eWeek.com reports that a fully integrated, entirely Google-branded phone geared to challenge Apple's phenomenally successful iPhone is rumored to hit the market in 2010.

Despite numerous protests that a phone created and sold by Google with the help of a third-party manufacturer would upset wireless carriers, Times Online reported Nov. 22 that Google in 2010 will launch an advanced smartphone with a larger-than-usual touch screen and a speedy Qualcomm processor that trumps the one powering the iPhone 3GS.

Moreover, the gadget will likely run the as-yet-unseen "Flan" version of Google's Android operating system and support Google Voice, the phone management service Google offers free that lets users ring their home, work and mobile numbers through a special Google number.

Google Branded Phone Rumored in 2010

Analyst Says Google Phone with Google Voice Is Coming in 2010

Everyone hates having to wedge themselves into a cramped dressing room flooded with never flattering fluorescent lighting but you now have another option. Zugara’s has created an augmented reality dressing room app called Fashionista and is being used by online clothing retailers like tobi.com. You turn on your web cam and then move an AR marker forward and back in front of you to scale the clothes to fit your body. Once that is done you can use positional gestures to see other clothing options, approve or disapprove of your choices or take a photo of your favorite outfits. Your approved choices are moved into your basket and the photo can be uploaded to Facebook to get your friends opinions of your selections.

In the past we have seen augmented reality used in mildly useful ways like the United States Post Office box sizer where you can determine what box you need to ship you gift but this starts to take it to another level. You can clearly see the potential of what this could mean to online shopping as it takes the content off the flat page and makes it interactive and more importantly – makes it personally relevant. I find the opportunities for this type of augmented reality execution really exciting unlike previous executions that were more gimmick than concept.

Lance Briggs, the Chicago Bears linebacker, is a big comic book fan. So much so that the athlete would like to create his own comicbook super-hero. The Chicago Tribune reports that Briggs is actively seeking ideas for his comic book. For the past month or so, he has been using his online comic book site, Lance's Comic World, to solicit suggestions -- please, take a shot and design his most beloved creation, a superhero named Riot.

Contest notices are posted at Chicago comic book shops. Entries can be submitted through Lance's Comic World (lancescomicworld.com). The deadline is Dec. 15. The winning entry will receive a prominent spot on Lance's Comic World.

Here's your chance to design comic-book superhero

The final entry date to The Dieline Awards is coming up in less than 30 days! Take a moment to enter your work into the awards today, the process is simple, and will take only a few minutes of your time. Get your entries in before the holidays.

About The Dieline Awards:

• The Dieline Awards is a worldwide design competition recognizing best in package design, and will be awarded in partnership with the FUSE Conference 2010.

• The official awards ceremony will be held at the FUSE Conference on April 14th, 2010, at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

• 30 winners across 10 different categories will be awarded a prestegious Dieline Award at the FUSE Conference, and one Best of Show winner will be chosen as the grand winner.

• The awards will be judged by a highly esteemed panel of 10 industry experts, and awarded based on quality of design. Debbie Millman, President of the AIGA and President of Design at Sterling Brands, will be the chairman of the judges.

• The top 11 winners will recieve a prize package worth over $4500.

• A product showcase of all Dieline Award winning packaging designs will be opened at the show shortly after the winners are announced, and all winners will be featured in detail on The Dieline.

Enter Today.

Date/Time: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EST

Do consumers know the difference between national brands and store brands? Do they care? How do they describe private label compared to national brands? Does this differ across categories? How about across markets?

Private label and store brands are having an impact on many consumer purchases today, both in the US and Europe. And within these markets the definition of private label compared to national brands varies according to category and retailer.

When is a brand important? What makes a national brand different? Do consumers feel the same way about brands today as they did a year ago? Why or why not?

Showcasing BuzzBack’s unique portfolio of award-winning online research techniques, this webinar will highlight new consumer research conducted in the US and UK about purchasing behavior and attitudes associated with private label versus national consumer brands. The study will present ways to identify consumer behavior and attitudes about shopping via an online survey.

As you listen in, you will learn:
• What drives consumer purchases of private label brands and why
• Consumer perceptions and attitudes about private label compared to national brands
• Types of people who purchase private label compared to national brands

Featured Speaker
Brendan Light, SVP, Research and Development, BuzzBack Market Research

Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/781266785
Mention priority code MWS0020BLOG

Dexinger.com reports that ABSOLUT Vancouver, a new, limited-edition bottle designed to embody Vancouver and support the local arts community.

Up to $120,000 from the bottle's proceeds will go towards a new Vancouver arts project.

As part of its tribute to Vancouver arts, ABSOLUT commissioned local illustrator and graphic artist Douglas Fraser to design the limited-edition bottle to reflect the uniqueness of the city.

For more information on the positive product design of ABSOLUT, please click here.

Absolut Vancouver Limited-edition Bottle to Support Local Arts Project

How green is your packaging? With the increasing concern over the need for sustainable and recyclable materials, many package designers are thinking green when launching a new product. Dave Douglas of GreenBiz.com, offers two points that package designers must consider when going green.

First, packaging is often almost pure waste. As engineers, we need to stop asking ourselves how to make packaging more efficient and start asking how to get away with less of it. The good side of this is that, just as we have seen in other areas, there is the potential for some significant savings if we can figure out how to package products more effectively and efficiently.

Second, the "product" and the "packaging" have their own separate lifecycles and supply chains, and engineers who are designing for optimal environmental effectiveness need to consider both of them. Why? Regulations covering design and take-back of packaging materials are mushrooming throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, and compliance with these environmental packaging laws requires creative engineering.

What do you make of Douglas' points? Are there any other means for green design that should be mentioned? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

Thinking Outside the Box on Packaging Design
Here's another design for an eco-friendly car, this one is by Spanish designer Edu Povarchik on this post on the design blog. The "citrus" is powered through hybrid motors that run on fuel cells and lithium ion batteries. The exterior is finished with polyurethane, recylced plastics, ecological leather, and aluminum. Parts of the car can also be removed and used as a multimedia center. For example, the seats inside can be re-arranged to create a trolley that holds and carries important business documents. There is also room to carry one bicycle inside and two outside. What do you think of the design?
According to Earth Times, today Coca Cola revealed that they're introducing new package design for it's juice boxes across brands and throughout the world. They're looking to create consistency while also cutting costs.

Guy Wollaert, General Manager, Global Juice Center, The Coca-Cola Company, stated,
“The scale and magnitude of this worldwide rebranding effort is significant for our juice business. “Our new, uniform packaging design system unites key brands in our juice portfolio, including Minute Maid, Del Valle, Andina and Cappy, under a single, iconic brand identity.”

Read the full article here.

How much does appropriate use of typeface matter to you? Are you one of the few that can spot a font disaster in a glance? Do you find yourself mulling over the ubiquitous misuse of Helvetica? Thankfully, you're not alone. In Sunday's New York Times, writer Alice Rawsthorn discusses the problems that font lovers face as they encounter everything from in-store marketing at the Gap to AMC's Mad Men. She writes,it’s always a pleasure to discover a formally gorgeous, subtly expressive typeface while walking along a street or leafing through a magazine. (Among my current favorites are the very elegant letters in the new identity of the Paris fashion house, Céline, and the jolly jumble of multi-colored fonts on the back of the Rossi Ice Cream vans purring around London.) But that joy is swiftly obliterated by the sight of a typographic howler. It’s like having a heightened sense of smell. You spend much more of your time wincing at noxious stinks, than reveling in delightful aromas.

So what about you? Are you burdened by bad design or can you simply let it slide and focus on making your work extraordinary?

Mistakes in Typography Grate the Purists
Business Week recently posted images of its annual Architectural Record award winners for 2009. There are some beautiful architectural designs from all over the world, take a couple of minutes to view these magnificent works of art.

Best Buildings of 2009

I’m the senior web designer & developer at IIR, a worldwide conference producer, and I thought I'd give guest blogging a shot. From time to time I will appear on NBD and share some of the design and development experiences of our in-house design department.

Visit the WebsiteNot so long ago on a computer very nearby, I launched a website for the 4th year of the Front End of Innovation Europe (FEI Europe) conference. It is a conference that focuses on the front end or discovery portion of innovation. It’s a sizable event so there was a lot of info to organize and communicate clearly. Even though it is heavy on the production side, it was a great event to work on this year because I had more creative involvement than I normally do. A quick rundown on our process at IIR: the Marketing Managers (MM) and Conference Producers (CP) go either to the in-house print department or an outside designer for the logo and color foundation and then the piece comes to the web department to make it, as my Creative Director likes to say, web-tastic.

This particular job was outsourced for branding and then brought in-house for production. There usually isn’t a vast difference between the web and print pieces design or content wise. This website, though, was going to have extra stuff! That wasn’t in the brochure! The event is based around these 7 critical factors needed for innovation to occur and the CP decided she wanted each factor to have its own page with a large photo to illustrate the accompanying text. The images were not already chosen by the outside team either; I got to choose them. This may not sound like WOW! but as I said our websites are usually created straight from the brochure. What really made it ‘wow’, though, was that I had time to work on the project. The team had come in almost two months in advance so there would be no hot, impatient breath on my neck wondering what was taking so long.

I started with the 3 factors that the CP had finished writing. In my initial search of Shutterstock, I was coming across a lot of images in cool gray and white tones that had a nice modern feel.

partnerships thumb commodity thumb

I thought that might be a good way to pull all the factors together, using a consistent color scheme. The CP chose the alternate color photo versions I provided which proved to be a good thing down the road. The factors Organic Growth and Customer Demands would have proved difficult to illustrate. Trees don’t feel very organic when in a generic white forms with cool gray shadows. And Customer Demands didn’t need any help in the difficult category. Most of the photos on Shutterstock were of customer service people with their headsets on looking really slick or surveys with checkmarks. The survey image would work but it just wasn’t interesting enough. I was so frustrated at one point that I made my own version!

customer demands outtake

I reread the copy several times and decided to stop focusing on ‘customer demands’ since that was a dead end and instead focus on the word ‘strategy’ since this was part of the factor; the strategy of balancing what the customer wants with what the business needs. This proved much more fruitful and the final version using chess pieces came together.

All and all the project was successful. The CP had such a great reaction to the pages when she saw them: an open mouth smile from ear to ear. That kind of reaction always works for me.

CNet.com reports that Adobe's has introduced a Photoshop app for the Google Android. According to CNet.com, the version for Android shares the same, simple editing UI as the iPhone/iPod version, both of which let users make edits by sliding their fingers across the screen and undo any changes made. It also features some very basic photo editing tools like crop, rotate, and image flip, as well as controls for adjusting exposure and tweaking color tint and saturation. Android users even get one new tool that iPhone/iPod users don't even have yet, which lets them straighten a shot against a grid.

As a designer, will you be utilizing the Photoshop app on your smart phone?

Petz Scholtus of Treehugger.com recently covered the Bits 'n Pieces--launched Material Connexion in New York, a dialogue between the analog and the digital technologies within design in a post-digital era. A sophisticated machine transformed the movements of a few bugs into beautiful patterns and logos and printed them out as fast as the insects performed. Scholtus writes, A path and obstacles that have been put in the insects' way influence the their behaviour, and gives them their design brief so to speak. The machine translates the movement of the bugs into graphics, which are then printed out as posters; a beautiful result of a collaboration between the designers and the insects and an engaging way to let nature do its thing.

What do you think? As designers, what inspiration do you get from nature and even from insects?

Lauren Hartman of Converting Magazine discusses a few fantastic package design launches set for this month. One particularly fascinating story comes from the Coca-Cola Company's relaunch of their Cappy juice. Hartman writes, Coca-Cola says it's counting on the packaging, introduced in June, to meet the rising consumer demand for new product offerings. The Elopak Slim® carton was selected following extensive consumer research that highlighted the new package as the best fit for Coca-Cola's premium, contemporary juice brand and met the consumer's desire for original beverage-packaging ideas. The tall, svelte carton design distinguishes the juices and nectars from the rest of the market. The stylish package is slimmer than a conventional gable-top carton, with harmonious curves and a large cap for easy pouring.

For more coverage on this design and other, please visit Hartman's article.

In Sunday's New York Times, writer Allison Arieff introduced us to Stella, a giraffe bath toy that looks old fashioned but contains some very modern elements. The product, which contains Renuva (a soy-based alternative to polyurethane) is a step forward in creating items that are more sustainable and healthful. Arieff writes, while Stella is one of a kind, designed for W.W.F.’s auction, it also functions as a compelling example for designers and manufacturers of Renuva’s potential uses. In this way, product design becomes a way to highlight a new material and bring it to market.

To learn more about Stella and Renuva, please visit Arieff's original article here.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently wrote about the new design improvements that the park is making. Each improvement is especially designed to fit in with natural surrounding, while keeping the focus on the scenery. For instance, there are new granite boulders that separate the parking lot and the park that simply look as if they're part of the scenery. They focus on what the buildings have to look like in order to fit in, focusing on their architecture and the building materials used. Read the full article here.

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