Newsletter | November 9, 2016

 

This week we happily circumvent political dialogue and talk marathon running, mapping, hands-free piano playing, and good ol’ Ben Franklin instead.

* * * 

Fun fact: The Rubik’s cube is the best-selling product of all time. The iPhone is second.

...though, it depends on your definition of "product" ;)

 * * * 

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

This past Sunday, over 50,000 runners traversed the 5 boroughs of New York City to cross the finish line in Central Park. So in the spirit of the marathon, we thought we’d share this article that discusses what marathon training can teach you about entrepreneurship.

 

 

DESIGN

Ever heard of the g-mark japan GOOD DESIGN Award? It’s the most prestigious design award in Japan, and each year it is given to only 1 entry chosen for its contemporary relevance, concept, aesthetics and symbolism. 

Last year the winner was a personal mobility chair and the year before was a robotic arm. This year the grand prize went to a world map by Hajime Narukawa.

So, what’s so special about a world map

For starters, the current one has a lot of issues - it dramatically distorts land and sea sizes. Creating a proportional map is no easy feat as the world is sphere and the map is flat. That's why Designer Narukawa built a map projection method called AuthaGraph to fix this problem.

His solution? Triangles.

He divided the globe into 96 triangles and projected them onto a tetrahedron, maintaining the proportions of water and land. He then unfolded the tetrahedron into a rectangle, such that the 96 sections created a map resembling the surface of the original globe, but a flat one.

 

What’s really cool is that the map is also sold as a paper craft assembly kit. Users can transform a flat map into a three-dimensional globe without losing its accuracy by folding it into various shapes. This process is supposed to mirror the one that Narukawa and his team went through in order to arrive at their model.

 

(If you want to try your own hand at mapping, we recommend reaching out to our friends over at Carto who have created one of the coolest mapping tools ever.)

 

VIRTUAL REALITY 

No hands? No problem.

 

The University of Tsukuba’s Special Needs Education School and eye tracking technology FOVE partnered in a collaborative project called “Eye Play the Piano” which allows students without hands or arms to play the piano by using an eye tracking device. Take a look.

How does it work? The head mount is able to recognize the user’s eye movement. A user blinks on one of the many panels within the interface in order to trigger a preferred note, which is then conveyed to the piano.

Tilting the head down signals the software to hold the node, while selecting single notes or chords requires only a pointed gaze and blink of the eye.

Sound cool? There are tons of inventions that use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to overcome physical deficiencies.

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Want to (actually) learn how to write?

In the age where content is king, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is develop techniques for improving our communication and writing fluency. We found this post written by Charles Chu to be surprisingly helpful. Chu gives us actionable advice on how to become a better writer based on advice that Ben Franklin wrote in his autobiography almost 200 years ago - so go ahead and give it a try.

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