from USA

Strong Enough For a Man, But Made For a Woman

What do women want . . . The same as men, but in prettier colors?

Nike is moving in a different design direction, at least for women. As market research indicates males and females view sports and branding differently, the swoosh people are trying to inject more fashion, and less branding, into their women's products.

"Especially in this season and going into fall, they're trying to make some of their products fashionable," said Faye Landes, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein who gave Nike a middle-of-the-road rating. "Some of it is working; some of it is not flying off the shelves."

A sure sign revealing Nike's increased focus on women: on the Beaverton campus, the footwear design department has recently been moved from the Michael Jordan building to the Mia Hamm building. Let's hope Ms. Hamm's brand has more staying power than, say, Susan B. Anthony's.

Eighty-Sixed G4 on 53rd, Manhattan

Apple's short-lived G4 Cube, cancelled due to poor sales, has just been inducted into the Museum of Modern Art. At least someone "Thinks Different."

"[The G4 Cube] was not a failure of design," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "It was a failure of concept. We targeted the Cube at a professional audience. We thought they would rather have something small on the desk than expandability and we were wrong. It was a wrong concept "fabulously implemented."

Jobs' new nickname: MoMA's Boy.


Not your father's Harley

For the first time in almost 50 years, Harley-Davidson has just released a radically redesigned motorcycle, the V-Rod.

While the bike features some mechanical innovations (innovations for Harley, anyway), it's the design that makes the strongest statement: the engine and gas tank are drastically less prominent than previous models, giving the bike a slick, streamlined look.

Here's to hoping target consumers appreciate the design. With any luck, maybe someday we'll see Hell's Angels having fistfights over "Starck vs. Newson."

GT's newly designed Idrive line of bicycles features a revolutionary rear suspension that eliminates the mushy sensation you get while pedaling a "dualie" bike. I'd go into the engineering details here, but most of us are designers and no one gives a good goddamn how they did it. Vectors, geometric forces and blah blah blah. The point is, the bike looks cool as hell.

If It's Good Enough For Judge Dredd, It's Good Enough For You

Coming soon? The Pontiac "Piranha:" a wigged-out body grafted to a Sunfire chassis/engine

While designers often labor for years over concept cars, no normal consumer ever gets to drive the damn things. That may be about to change.

GM is reportedly toying with the idea of grafting concept-car bodies onto existing chassis/engine packages. (Stallone fans may remember GM doing this for the piece of cinematic genius known as "Demolition Man.") The resultant fully-functional automobiles, tentatively called "Toys," would be sold to consumers as the ultimate option. And hopefully, this would be one vehicle that Sylvester Stallone is incapable of driving into the ground.

RoboCup2001: You Call That a Soccer Brawl?

RoboCup, or The Robot World Cup Initiative, an annual contest of unassisted robot teams vying for world recognition of technological supremacy on the mini-soccer fields ended August 10 after a week of grueling competition in Seattle, Washington.

Awards for scientific and engineering achievement went to teams from Japan and Iran, while league competition winners ranged from China, Australia, Singapore, Germany, and Japan.

Other than two second places and a third place ( thanks Carnegie-Mellon, U-Penn, and Cornell ), in the Sony-legged and the small-size leagues, America neglected to show here on her home turf.

Maybe next year we'll just focus on a battling 'bot model and start a good ol' soccer brawl in the little mini-stands. Then we'll show 'em some robot rules!

Robotics American Style

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