Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

September 2008

You are browsing the archive for September 2008.

Chevy Volt Hybrid Design

September 26, 2008

A lot of the latest buzz in green technology has been about the announcement of the Chevy Volt production design.

If you've been living under a rock, here's a brief overview:  The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid compact car targeted for release in 2010 that features a revolutionary electric propulsion system that goes beyond just battery power.  The lithium-ion battery itself will have an estimated range of 40 miles, but there will be a variety of range-extending on-board power sources to recharge the battery once you pass its range.  These power sources will include gas and in some cases e85 ethanol(3). The engine is maintained by the small combustion engine instead of assisted by one.

Functionally, this sounds great.  The average daily commute for about 78 million Americans is 40 miles or less.

Big is Small with On2 VP8

September 16, 2008

On2 Technologies, a leading provider in video compression solutions, has just introduced it's latest generation proprietary video compression format, VP8.

VP8 has been designed with 40 new innovations to the well established technologies used in previous generations. It provides the functionality to lower the cost of encoding by enabling greater throughput through its computational efficiency.  VP8 encodes in realtime on low end machines, and takes fewer cycles to decode than other leading algorithms.

Using VP8 as your web-video compression codec, you can potentially experience huge savings in bandwidth and storage costs without jeapordizing video quality. VP8 can deliver the same video-quality in 1/2 the bandwidth of existing implementations of H.264 advanced video compression.

Read more about the release of VP8 here.

Is Flash really the best option for web advertising?

September 11, 2008

 Flash technology provides a much richer experience than an animated .gif or static image for the user when utilized in web advertising.  It contains in it the technology to enable multiple functionalities, which can bring the experience of an entire website to the user with just one impression.  Forms, games, product features, etc. can all be experienced without leaving the current website.

The trouble with new technology design

September 10, 2008

Marcelo da Luz , a Canadian solar pioneer, is the project catalyst, design concept, mechanic and driver of the Xof1 (power of one) solar-powered car.  The goal of the project is to develop and build a solar car to set a word distance record, and promote the use of clean and sustainable energy.  All in all a grand and noble idea, but his design has recently been getting him into a little trouble with the law.

Upon entering Alaska earlier this week, a concerned citizen mistook the Xof1 for a UFO and called the local police.  The police chased Marcelo down, interrogated him, and upon realizing he was not a martian doing reconnaissance in preparation of a mass invasion, they promptly let him go.

Apparently this isn't the first time the Xof1 has gotten Marcelo into trouble either (newlaunches.com).

New Nano Impression

September 9, 2008

Today the new iPod Nano was introduced to the world by Mr. Steve Jobs and I'm mildly impressed.  It's smaller, somewhat thinner, and comes in every color of the rainbow (actually it only comes in 9, but that's good enough for me).

It has that curved surface, tapered edge, slick-aluminum look that Apple seems to be taking their latest designs in the direction of.  It's actually as thick as the old model of the Nano at its thickest point, but it tapers off greatly and accompanied with its length, it gives an overall "thinner" feel.

It also features an accelerometer like the iPhone and iTouch, so a user can turn their Nano and view in landscape.

So far the only criticism I have is this whole "shake-to-shuffle" feature.  Neat idea, but I sense a flaw.

frogLight - Green design in a standard form

September 3, 2008

To go environmentally friendly with your lighting solutions, you need to basically stick to CFLs or LEDs right now.  The CFLs on the market are non-dimmable , manufactured using very toxic materials (mercury), and cast that cold tint that feels like the juices are being sucked from your eyeballs.  You also have to question how "green" they are when most consumers throw fluorescents out with the trash, even though they are technically toxic waste.


The high-powered LED alternative uses significantly less power than a CFL, can be tuned to give a much more pleasant color output, and contain no mercury.  The only drawback is the heat generated that can affect the life of the LED.


Frog Design did not only want to create an environmentally friendly bulb, but also design it around the psychology of light quality and the impact that has on the acceptance of current offerings on the market.  The genius behind their design of the frogLight is that they deliver the technology in an already widely accepted form... the shape of a standard light bulb.  The consumer does not have to change their form of power, or the light socket, or replace that old dusty lamp shade that attaches right to the bulb.