In Pictures: PC Design Contest Winners
See our slideshow of the winning designs here.
There’s also a cute video here.
The competition was open to Windows-based PC designs, although Microsoft didn’t specify what version of Windows, a Microsoft spokeswoman explains. She also points out that the winners are merely prototypes at this point. "These computers are futuristic hardware designs; they are not in market and aren’t going to be in the near future."
Gates announced the five winners of Microsoft’s Next-Gen PC Design Competition Monday at the 2007 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Los Angeles. The winners of this year’s contest stretch the keyboard-monitor-tower paradigm in ways you may not have imagined possible.
The 349 designs in this year’s competition were judged for their innovation, user experience and interaction, aesthetics, use of new technologies and eco-friendliness.
A panel of 10 jurors, all internationally renowned industrial designers, chose the three Judges Awards winners from 34 finalists. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and his advisors selected the Chairman’s Award. The Public Choice Award was chosen online by visitors to the competition Web site.
Microsoft developed the contest in 2005 as a way of connecting with the design community and to encourage it to think about more innovative PC designs. The competition is held in collaboration with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID).
Winner, Chairman’s Award: MADE in China
MADE in China involves MADE (Massively Administered Digital Entities) infrastructure, which means the PC itself contains no CPU, hard drive, graphics card or sound card. All that stuff is stored up in a 3G wireless service provider’s network. The data from the components is then wirelessly transmitted to the user’s PC when needed. MADE in China’s memorable touch-screen interface is based on an Asian-style dining platter. Special chopsticks-like stylus are used to enter commands. The PC was designed by John Leung from AARIVE Design of Melbourne, Australia.
blok is a kindergarten classroom PC with a design inspired by classic toy building blocks. The product consists of two computer units that interlock to form a cube. Kids can manipulate items on the screen with their hands. They can also use peripheral devices which include two ‘keyboard’ mats, a set of digital markers, and a set of interactive shapes. blok was designed by Christianne LeBlanc, Jessica Livingston and Maarianne Goldberg from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
BulbPC, which fits neatly into a desk grommet hole, is a simple and efficient computer designed for underserved markets in developed and developing worlds. The BulbPC comes as a kit, so some assembly required, and monitor not included. The PC was designed by independent designers Allen Wong and Matt Conway of Los Angeles.
The Zeed+ was inspired by "Ikebana," the Japanese traditional art of formal flower arrangement. Each of the stem-shaped hardware units has its own function: one stem controls media, another houses the operating system, another manages networking and so on. The stems are interchangeable so that the PC can be outfitted for different user types. Commands are entered by touching the vase, or base of the PC, which acts as the monitor. The Zeed+ was designed by Kenneth W. K. Wu, an independent designer from Toronto, Canada.
Light Up Your Life features a mobile terminal in the form of a glowing cylindrical orb called the Light. The Light can serve as flashlight, portable multimedia player, mobile phone, or as an interface to wireless networks that enable data transmission between the mobile terminal and a remote server. The Light mobile terminal has both a traditional graphical user interface and natural-speech-interaction interface, and requires a monitor. The PC was designed by Zhu Fei, a freelance designer in Jiangxi, China.
Pussy Cat is a mobile PC, an A.I. robot and an air refresher. Pussy Cat comes when you call, and can recognize your face and others’. It does almost anything a desktop PC does including video and music playback: CDs and DVDs play in its mouth and video shows on its face plate. Pussy Cat was designed by Barry Lai Yin Lock.
School Supply puts PC functionality into a common pen and notepad (and vase) motif. The stylus memory stick is used to write and click on the notepad input device. When placed inside the vase, the pen transfers data into the main memory of the PC. A high-speed Bluetooth transfer system connects the components together. School Supply was designed by Jung Sung Han.
Roundbox is specifically designed to teach, entertain and inspire children. It packages a computer, TV, DVD player, game console, camera and pen-enabled drawing screen in a kid-friendly rugged package. It was designed by Shawn Whetstone and Erik Turocy.
Slice offers a new way to manage files. When files are downloaded or created, the user stores them in the appropriate "slice." The segments connect wirelessly to other devices in the home to transfer various data and media files. Slice uses a variety of output devices, including monitors, TVs, projectors and stereos to display or play back files. Slice was designed by Tim MacKay, David Taylor and Mark Pylypczak.
The Horizon is designed to enable rural crafts makers to photograph and display their products for sale on the Internet. The PC uses a Tefzel laminated ePaper touch screen, a voice recorder, a speaker, and two molded-in buttons (On/Off and "OK") to interact with the user. The Horizon rests in the pouch of a Photovoltaic Cloth, which acts as it’s energy source. It was designed by Nate Ribbens.
Yummy is a wall-mounted computer designed specially for the kitchen. It is intended to assist in kitchen tasks including cooking, food shopping and supply management. It suggests recipes from blogs and other sources based on the supplies it knows you have (it reads the bar-codes on your groceries). It also has a media center interface for playing music, radio or TV news in the kitchen during cooking time. Yummy was designed by Antoine Visonneau and Sofia Kocergin.
Chocolate Box is an entertainment management system. Each cube in the box contains content loaded from the home computer via the internet. When a cube is placed into the port inside the box, a blue LED on top of the cube glows, as does the LED on the touch-screen remote, the appropriate menu appears on the remote screen, and playback begins. One cube can be placed on top of another in the port to run multiple media (say, video and gaming) simultaneously. Chocolate Box was designed by Jim Stepancic.