The past future

The lectures for the master course “Create the Future” have been quite enlightening: it mixes engineering with societal and political factors in order to develop products that display a great long term viability and resilience. There are a lot of structural approaches to forecasting, for example technology roadmaps or Delphi studies. With a bit of googling one can come across some quite scintillating trend maps.

History is riddled with examples of great ideas that were not suitable for their time, or were met with substantial resistance before being embraced and wholly incorporated. Adoption of technology is something we tend to take for granted, especially in a time when technological advancement seems to progress at an exponential rate, however in a lot of cases it is and was really not as straightforward as we think.

The car is a perfect example thereof: in the beginning gas-powered cars were considered noisy, uncomfortable, and difficult to drive. They were also considered dangerous: in the UK the Locomotion Act of 1865 stipulated that speed was limited to 3 km/h in towns and 6 km/h in the country, and someone would have to walk 55 metres in front of the car waving a red flag – an idea so foreign to us it’s almost ridiculous. At the time however, people deemed it a necessity.

As unlikely as it may sound to us now, electric cars were the preferred option at the time. An unlikeliness that has its roots in the way we view cars now and what requirements we think it needs to fulfil. But how often do we stop to think about how inefficient it is to (mainly) transport a 75 kg human with a 1500 kg product? Or if we ever really use our cars to travel vast distances? They are consumerist needs we have grown accustomed to and accepted as the norm, but are not true requirements.

Same goes for the new clean energy options for cars as presented to us by the big corporations. Hydrogen is put forward as the ideal candidate for storing energy for our electric cars, rather than batteries. One needs to realise the reasoning behind this, from the perspective of the corporations: the car industry has a lot of branches reaching into various aspects of our everyday life. Think of gas stations to fill up your tank, garages for car repair, spare parts production, refinement installations, etc. If one moves to an option that does not use as many moving parts and allows the user to recharge their vehicle at home, the majority of branches will be redundant. Simple reasoning however tells us that the efficiency of using batteries is substantially higher than that of using hydrogen, keeping into account return losses on transforming and transporting energy.

Anywho, I’m rambling. The goal of “Create the Future” is to envision (electric) mobility for the year 2030 with aid of the aforementioned tools. It is great fun to delve into the past, extrapolate this for the future, and think outside the box to create promising future product concepts.

Submission for the Liander battle

Concept 1 - The future of your energy use

I have finished my work on the Liander battle; both the report for uni and the submission for the competition are ready. The report for university details the design process, while the submission for the competition is a succinct 10 sheet presentation of the final result.

In total I have created three distinctively different concept directions, as to offer Liander an impression of the entire palette of options they have: from tangible product to web service and advertisement campaign. I hope they’ll appreciate it.


There are some moments in your life when you become quite aware how much your way of thinking and how you view the world around you has changed. For example this morning while I was trimming trees and bushes in my parents’ garden a neighbour asked me how I always managed to get them to be so round and symmetrical. The first thought going through my mind was: “simply make cuts at an even distance perpendicular from the chosen centre of the bush, creating a polygon that basically approximates a sphere.” >_>

It’s just one more thing to add to the list: looking at a four-legged chair and thinking “statically overdetermined”, seeing vectors while playing pool, looking at a tall building and calculating how much force the wind exerts on the windows, trying to estimate the natural frequency (resonance) of materials of objects surrounding me when listening to music, creating bad math puns, etcetera, etcetera..

I’m a nerd. 🙂

Participation in Battle of Concepts

The University of Twente offers a master course that allows you to participate in a design competition for study credit. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? There are quite a few design competitions available, some are organised by the companies themselves (such as the BraunPrize mentioned in a previous blog entry), others are organised by an intermediary (such as ‘Battle of Concepts‘). I have decided to participate in a design competition offered on the latter intermediary, wish me good luck!

Battle of Concepts - Liander design competition

..and here we go

Finally my new portfolio site is up and running. There are still some gaps that need to be filled in and info that needs to be added, especially on the Dutch version, but I’m well chuffed with the result so far.

It is quite nice the info can now be indexed by search engines and that I can directly link to specific content. Even at this early stage the site already seems easier to maintain and expand.

A fresh start

Obsolete flash based portfolio

My old portfolio site (see above) was horribly outdated and it did not live up to my requirements anymore, so.. here’s to starting work on a new portfolio site. This time made in HTML rather than flash in order to be able to better present my work.

BraunPrize postponed till 2012

Aw I was really looking forward to participate in the BraunPrize competition this year. The kickoff was supposed to be in March/April of this year, but after contacting them it seems that the BraunPrize is undergoing some changes. It says “the competition will move from its two year rotation to the former three year rhythm” and thus won’t return until 2012. Still looks well worth the wait though, so I’ll definitely aim to participate.

Developing at Philips Design, Drachten

Philips humidifier redesign concept directions

At the moment I’m working on a redesign of Philips’ evaporative humidifier at Philips Design in Drachten. The task is to target the segmented and individualised market, using current emotion economy. By exploring the relation between the appearance of products and its interpretation by different consumers regarding expectation, emotion and product form, one can accurately target their needs and wishes.

The single restriction imposed on the redesign is to use the current components, or a volumetric equivalent. In case of Philips’ evaporative humidifier, this means the product will be rather large: an undesired characteristic amongst the chosen target group of women in the age category of 20-40. So I have decided to take the TRIZ approach in order to exploit this apparent contradiction, supported by target group research with an emphasis on brand qualities.

This afternoon I will present my findings to the team, as the assignment is almost coming to an end. It has been a very valuable experience to work alongside professional product designers and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Power LED prototype finalisation

Tom Hilgerink and I have just finished processing the data from the tests with our prototype. It has been quite fun to test the functionality, to actually see the product in action and to be able to test (and subsequently confirm) our calculations and predictions. Of course there are some recommendations for changes as well, but they are not groundbreaking. Click on the image in this entry to flick through some of our tests/results.

Selected for Functional Prototyping

Design for the circuit board of the 'illuminating gloves' power LED concept

The ‘illuminating gloves’ power LED concept that Tom Hilgerink and I developed during the master course Sources of Innovation was chosen to be prototyped for the course Functional Prototyping; we received the invite today. Pretty awesome to finally have the opportunity to turn a concept into a fully functional prototype and test the design aspects we envisioned when we developed the concept.

We will have to keep track of our budget, design the electronics, program the ICs using C++, assemble the product, set up functionality tests, and finally evaluate the results. It is not often we get to prototype our products, so this will be a great learning experience.

The lectures will start next Monday, we will then begin preparing detailed workshop and realisation plans.


My blog describes events from my life related to design and engineering. Hopefully it will give you more insight into my work processes and personal interests.

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