Sunday, July 27, 2008

Some Fun Entries in the Create the Future Design Contest

Now that the Create the Future Design Contest is open and collecting entries, it's time to point out some of the reasons I love this contest. Before I do, I should say that although I help with the site design and administration, I have nothing whatever to do with judging, which is done by a panel of engineering and research experts recruited by NASA Tech Briefs. And my opinions won't mean anything to them!

One thing that makes this contest fun are the wacky ideas - the napkin sketches, the weird diagrams, the mad scientist schemes. Some of them just sound funny at first, but are actually quite earnest. Take, for example, the "Thumbtack Remover." Or the "Personal Transport Pod" (I especially like the solar panels). (Be sure to check out the scheme for the "Personal Safety Belt" by the same inventor, which slightly resembles a super hero's costume.) And then there's the eSpider, a recyclables pre-sorter with a hand that looks like a spider.

Some of the entries have terrific images, rendered with high-end tools like Rhino and SolidWorks. Here's a student entry using Rhino to illustrate a convertible boat. Another student entry uses Rhino to diagram a medical self-diagnosis unit, called Sintomatico. And there's a student design for a vertical bike rack, using SolidWorks, which makes any design look very professional. Here's a part of a SolidWorks entry for an electromagnetic rail motor:

Some have surprising descriptions - this one for a breast exam device features a quote from a famous columnist that I didn't expect, but supports the case! This one is for handling hair-oil storage, which makes me flash back on Clooney's hair treatments in "O Brother." In another odd hair-related device, you've got to check out the Bowman, which I find hilarious. He submitted pdfs, so be sure to open them up! Bowman entry on Some also have funny names, like the A.T.E.A.M, for the "ANTI-TERRORIST ECM-AUDIO MECHANISM."

A few words about the site and contest: While we are showing page view counts, there is no prize for page views this year. It was too much trouble to police last year. I will probably review and reset them any case, to keep them more or less believable. Please check out the entries with fewer page views right now, they are very deserving of eyeballs. There will be some form of public rating mechanism in October for another popular vote prize - development resources willing. Finally, if you like the home page, the flash banner of the Wright Brothers' plane with jet engines was done by an intern at SolidWorks, game design student from WPI Alex Schwartz. Awesome addition to the site.

If you have a blog and you post about the contest, I'll put your post link up on the site's press page.

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