Enlightened Signature Elements

The Cadillac ELRdesign has been getting a lot of attention at the bivouac lately. In addition to the striking design and progressive technologies both inside and out, various small details stand out in a good way as well. Cadillac logo placement within both headlamp and tail light elements is well executed. Each adds an elegant and refreshingly understated, yet dynamic signature touch. That's a tough middle ground to hit. Here's hoping such attention to detail lights the way to forward to continued impressive designs coming out of the Cadillac studio in 2013 and beyond.

Star Wars Figures Bring in a Large Figure on the Auction Block

Whether a fan of George Luca's Star Wars saga or not, one can only take in the image of this extra large Star Wars collection with awe. It is it laid out in a creative fashion, strangely evoking the impression of some sort of modern Bayeux Tapestry. And someone also laid out an impressive figure for the collection as it recently sold for over $11,000. That's an impressive amount for an equally impressive collection. Looking it over, it appears to be made up of the latest round of action figures, not the originals that launched in 1977. The tooling and detail on this latest generation of figures is superior the original series to be sure, but I am so thankful to have had some of the originals to lift the horizons of my imagination through countless hours of creative play. I can't help but think that those hours spent re-enacting Luca's masterpiece also taught me a thing or two about filming and storytelling. Thanks again for that and so much more George!

Cadillac ELR Officially Charges Up the Bivouac

With the release of the production version of the Cadillac ELR at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past week, General Motors proved yet again that energy behind the resurgence of the American automotive industry remains high. Any time a vehicle manufacturer comes out with such a stunning concept car, as they did in 2009 with their Converj concept, and manages to stay so faithful to the original concept vision, that company certainly deserves high praise. Audi came close to this sort of effort when they introduced the production version of the TT in terms of staying true to a concept. However, with respect to the ELR, this may be one of those rare occasions where the actual shipping car looks better than the concept embodiment.

Can you spot the concept vehicle?

GM also deserves credit for moving into the luxury Extended Range Electric Vehicle luxury niche before other large-scale luxury vehicle manufacturers. They are also introducing some new driving affordances unique to this type of vehicle, such as steering wheel-mounted paddles that allow drivers to induce regenerative braking on demand. While we will have to wait and see how the ELR actually performs, on paper things look promising. And if you are a fan of Cadillac's "Art and Science" aesthetics, on the show room floor they are looking great.

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They Say the Eyes are the Window to the Soul

There have been some amazing things happening lately in the world of LED lighting for vehicles. More efficient and robust than traditional lighting solutions, they seem to adorn every new car model these days. Given their dynamic and robust qualities and the ability to light up even the darkest corners of the Serengeti, it seems appropriate to see them now on the 2013 R1200GS. The units look fantastic both in day and night running configurations providing an even more aggressive and determined look for the GS. Now that enlightenment at its best.

The Future of Phones

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of contributing some thoughts that informed Alexis Madrigal's Atlantic article "iPhone 5? Yawn. What Will the 'Phone' of 2022 Look Like?"

While so many are understandably appreciating the latest offering from Apple in the "phone-on-glass'" category, the article does a nice job of encouraging us to think beyond today's prevailing interaction paradigms and from factors toward a future with a greater variety of form factors as well as richer, more seamless interactions. Who knows, while displays are getting bigger this week, in 2022 the next big thing might be pretty small.

"Comfort Zone" image from work done as part of a future technology forecasting project I contributed to in 2000 at IDEO.

New York Times Budget Puzzle

Sometimes I find myself noting something as interesting but it takes a while to really appreciate it to its fullest. That was the case with the New York Times Budget Puzzle which came out last November.

NYT Budget Puzzle

While in an information visualization brainstorm today, this came back to me as a great example of how to empower users to relate to a very abstract concept...our federal budget deficit. Its minimalistic approach and small details like representing 1 billion dollars with small blue squares that tally up in real time depending upon decisions users make is a nice touch. 

An Empathy Exercise for Those That Really Build Things

For those that could swear that their car had to have been built late on a Friday afternoon or clearly bought a pure lemon, try building an 8070 in a weekend. The latest super car from Lego Group's Technic division includes a free floating differential, a visible 8 cylinder engine with working pistons tied in to the transmission, double wishbone suspension components and various power goodies.

Putting one of these together sans a bunch of spare parts lying around once the job is done is a nice accomplishment. It's also a great empathy exercise to help us realize, even if on a much smaller scale, some of what a day is like for those putting together the things that move us every day. A special thanks goes out to you, the builders of the world.

Lego Sports Car.jpg

Quality Time in Seacrest County

Lately, my nephews and I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time in Seacrest County, the fictional land featured in Need For Speed Hot Pursuit.  Thankfully, designers of this racing game have foregone obsessing over telemetry and torque curves generated on the world's most famous race tracks. Leaving that to those crafting Grand Turismo 5, NFS creators instead made the solid decision to offer up a dynamic new twist on a childhood favorite: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.

Adrenaline levels run high as convincing near photo-realism is placed in just the right places. It starts with the diverse and beautifully rendered vistas of Seacrest County, which span coastal roads, open desert highways and snowcapped alpine routes. These stand out as heros of the title alongside the fastest police response units. Creators of the game follow through with a great range of the world's most exciting vehicles. I for one was most happy to see the BMW Z4 sdrive3.5is and the Lamborghini Reventon among the list of beautiful cars one can try their had at. 

The game delivers on a few well-honed gaming principles:

1. Support immersion- Convincing visual details in the landscape and vehicle modeling are convincing and invite drivers into the world of Seacrest County.

2. Cause and Effect Loops- Dramatic and sufficiently detailed damage simulation reinforces just enough cause and effect consequences to keep things interesting.

3. Collectibility- An impressive range of vehicles each with their own overview provided by an ecosystem of manufacturers keeps one engaged and moving forward in the game as does the addition of technological enhancements.

While there are surely a number of alternative driving games out there with more realism that would be far better to use as training platforms for your next trip to the Nurburgring, few can match the levels of sheer joy that come along with busting bad guys or racing at high speeds across the deserts of Seacrest county. Thanks goes out those who put quality time into creating the vistas of Seacrest County and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit.