Saturday, May 28, 2005

Proximity sensors for cars

I saw someone backing her car into a parking spot yesterday. She managed to get the fender of her car onto the footpath. Luckily for her, the car cleared the footpath, so there was no damage done. The thing is that she didn't even know; a driver from another car had to tell her. I've had this problem sometimes when I've reversed a car too far. Figuring out your car's length (depth?) is not so easy and it does take some driving experience. So, it's surprising that cars don't have proximity sensors at the back to tell you when you're too close to something. I think that some "luxury" cars do, but isn't a proximity sensor something that could benefit everyone? Wouldn't it make reversing so much easier for drivers, inexperienced or otherwise? Why is there such a surprising lack of innovation or even attention to things that would help make a user's job easier?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ice trays and zen meditation

The fridges now-a-days, they're silent, they're efficient, they don't emanate CFCs--in short, they are technological marvels. How come the ice (cube) trays that the fridges come with are still as hard to use as they were before? I'm talking about pouring the water in the trays. I've never been someone who had a steady hand, but for me filling an ice tray with water is about as easy as getting Penelope Cruz to go out on a date. (Yeah, so I'm not Tom Cruise.) I spill about half the water outside the tray because if I fill one cube, the water doesn't go into the next one, it decides to spill out. If I don't spill the water, I end up having cubes the size of peanuts, only they're cubic in shape. Then, there's the small matter of transferring the ice tray into the freezer. My fridge has some snap-fit kind of mechanism, so I end up spilling some more water. I think that you can learn Zen meditation by filling up my fridge's ice trays. To be fair to the designers of my (LG) fridge, they made the process of removing ice cubes from the tray much easier. All you have to do is rotate the tray and the cubes fall into a receptacle below. Real simple. I'm just wondering why the same designer can't create a simple design, like a corrugation on the side or on the centre, that you can pour water into, so that the water just flows (note to designers--water flows) into the tray? Till someone does that, I'll be wasting half of Bangalore's water filling my ice tray. I think I'll have some ice water now.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Designing manhole covers

Kathy Sierra, a really smart lady (who Hugh MacLeod wants to marry), wrote a nice post about (well) manhole covers. Actually, it's about aesthetics and design and the differences between the Japanese and the US cultures. She writes:
Beauty and attention to design detail... everywhere I turned during my two week stay (Tokyo and Kyoto), I saw it. Every--and I mean every Japanese restaurant (including the fast-food sushi joints) had an architectural bent. A sense of style. An aesthetic sensibility you just don't see throughout the US!