Of Non.Object And Gizmos


Consider this a kind of follow-up to my previous post linking the One Laptop Per Child project with Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age “primer” concept. MoCO Loco posted an entry a couple of days ago titled “non·object” (Link) that included an iPod/book-ish looking picture. The image had that primer-grey, CG-rendered look I’m accustomed to seeing and which admittedly gets my attention; I suspected the object in it was modeled in 3D Studio Max but rendered with Brazil or VRay. Curious, I stopped back in this morning to learn more.

As it turns out, the object is indeed a work of fiction and apparently nothing more than a CG model. This particular image depicts the “non.object CUin5 mobile phone”, a concept which is to be included in what is called the “non.object book” (Link).

From the project website:

The non·object book is the first of its kind – the first of a new genre we call Design Fictionâ„¢. In the same way that sci-fi movies and fictional tales stretch your imagination, our hope is to take you on a journey into the future of design and inspiration. We will share stories and concepts that offer a new point of view, a new way of thinking, a new way forward. Of course, as with all fiction, some of our ideas may seem improbable – even impossible. Don’t worry, we bought the tickets. All you have to do is enjoy the ride.

Last week I purchased the DVD for “Minority Report“. Not because I think it’s a great movie or even for the movie. I wanted the “extras” on the DVD that go into the design thinking behind the concepts shown in the movie; the Design Fictionâ„¢. Consequently, I find this project interesting. It’s stand-alone extras.

My concern, however, is that it won’t live up to the standard of the “Minority Report” material or of other DVD’s, though I expect it to cost significantly more. Nor is it likely to push the envelope further than that movie; out toward the realm of spimes and kirkyans and Stephenson’s primer. If it doesn’t, I’ll be disappointed, because while it’s fine to show CG-generated turntable animations of product concepts, there are two things I would expect: 1) capital-“D” design thinking that goes beyond what Bruce Sterling calls “gizmos“, and 2) film-like scenes showing people actually using the device in its proper context. The short clip they have available doesn’t suggest this will be the case.

So I’ll be watching for this in coming months. It’d be great to have expectations exceeded and as mine are, at this point, not all that high, there’s room for a nice surprise. Fingers crossed.

{Note: Some discussion over on Gizmodo – Link; and some commentary on the Wired Gadget Lab blog – Link.}

{Image Copyright (c) 2006 nonobject Inc}