Need to Know
25 : 05 : 18

25.05.2018 Technology : Fashion : Food

Xbox caters for the physically impaired, Helmut Lang facilitates online dating, Iceland pledges to plastic-free packaging.

1. Xbox caters for disabled users

Xbox controller, Microsoft Xbox controller, Microsoft
Xbox controller, Microsoft Xbox controller, Microsoft

Global – Xbox manufacturer Microsoft is launching a new adaptive controller for its console that will enable users who are physically impaired to play.

The new controller will meet the mobility needs of disabled customers with features such as larger buttons, which can be operated using hands, elbows or feet, as well as a row of 19 ports for users to add more devices such as touch-sensitive pads.

‘The traditional Xbox controller makes a lot of assumptions. It assumes I have two hands to hold it, two thumbs to hit the analogue sticks, and the fine motor control to get at all the buttons. That’s a barrier,’ says Bryce Johnson, senior inclusive designer at Microsoft. ‘Throughout the design process of this device, we spoke to charities like the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, AbleGamers andSpecialEffectand to countless gamers with disabilities. We’ve designed a device that we think will empower them.’

For more on the shifting aesthetic of accessibility products, see our design direction Implicit Inclusivity.

2. Helmut Lang connects daters in new project

Helmut Lang, Photography by Alex Lee, New York Helmut Lang, Photography by Alex Lee, New York
Helmut Lang, Photography by Alex Lee, New York Helmut Lang, Photography by Alex Lee, New York
Helmut Lang, Photography by Alex Lee, New York Helmut Lang, Photography by Alex Lee, New York

New York – Fashion brand Helmut Lang is celebrating is pre-autumn 2018 collection on Instagram with a new project that shines the light on real New York singletons.

In the form of traditional dating profiles, the spot stars 12 individuals of all ages, alongside their dating preferences and interests. In the hope of linking the singles to potential suitors, the brand provides a real contact email to connect those who are interested.

Nostalgic in its references, the visual direction takes cues from an early generation of web design by embracing lo-fi images and a bold shadow typeface. Brands such as Nike are also experimenting with incorporating elements of this aesthetic trend into graphic design.

3. Iceland commits to a plastic-free planet

UK – The British supermarket chain, which has already made various pledges of social good this year, has announced it will adopt a new plastic-free trust mark on its products to enable consumers to make more sustainable choices.

The label, designed by environmental campaigner A Plastic Planet, will sit on the front of products which are packaged without plastic. Initially, the mark will appear on a selection of Iceland’s own-brand products including eggs and vegetable burgers. The retailer has announced plans to be entirely plastic-free by 2023.

‘Our Trust Mark cuts through the confusion of symbols and labels and tells you just one thing – this packaging is plastic-free and therefore guilt-free,’ says Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet. ‘Finally, shoppers can be part of the solution not the problem.’

Iceland, UK Iceland, UK

4. A trainer that cleans the streets of Amsterdam

Gumshoe by I Amsterdam, Explicit and Gum-Etc, Amsterdam
Gumshoe by I Amsterdam, Explicit and Gum-Etc, Amsterdam Gumshoe by I Amsterdam, Explicit and Gum-Etc, Amsterdam
Gumshoe by I Amsterdam, Explicit and Gum-Etc, Amsterdam Gumshoe by I Amsterdam, Explicit and Gum-Etc, Amsterdam

Amsterdam – The city's marketing arm, Iamsterdam, has joined forces with clothing brand Explicit and Gum-Tec manufacturer Gum Drop to produce a trainer made from recycled chewing gum, in the hope of reducing the city’s sticky litter problem.

Gum Drop used collected gum from around the city to create a sustainable rubber compound, known as Gum-Tec, which was then moulded into the sole of the shoe. ‘We discovered gum is made from a synthetic rubber. And by breaking down these properties, we were able to create a new type of rubber,’ says Anna Bullus, designer at Gum-Tec. The initiative provides an opportunity to clean the streets of The Netherlands as well as re-use a material that would take 20–25 years to biodegrade.

For more new material innovations that could shape the future of mass-consumer goods, see our debrief from Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018.

5. Human dependency on technology is increasing

The results, from a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, shows that people are becoming increasingly reliant on technology, so much so that they will often hold a smartphone in their hand even if it is not in use. The research comes out of a new paper, The Phone Walkers, which cites plausible reasons why pedestrians hold their phones when they aren’t actively using them.

Positing four theories, the authors suggest that one reason could be that people feel they need immediate access to their phones because their social lives exist there. This might suggest why figures were lower (18%) when the observed participants weren’t walking alone.

As we live in a state of constant multitasking and multiscreening, the researchers also believe that psychological dependency could explain this phenomenon. They suggest that it is likely people will experience anxiety or tension when the device is out of reach.

6. Thought-starter: Is this grain the next superfood craze?

Yolélé Foods is a start-up aiming to build a supply chain for fonio, an ancient supergrain that is grown in West Africa. We spoke to chief marketing officer Noah Levine about its appeal and bringing it to new markets.

Fonio is West Africa’s oldest grain, which has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. It’s gluten-free, cooks in about five minutes, and it has three times the amount of protein, iron and fibre as rice. Because it is difficult to process into food, however, it’s generally only consumed in local farming communities. But Yolélé Foods is working on opening a mill in Senegal to bring it to scale. ‘Our goal at Yolélé Foods is to bring fonio into new markets. At present, we’re focusing on the US as a way to help transform local communities in West Africa, where we source the grain,’ explains Noah Levine, chief marketing officer at Lolélé Foods.

When discussing the difference in Western and African markets, Levine explains: ‘In the US we are focusing on fonio’s nutritional benefits, but also on the purpose-driven ethos of the company, which is really about working alongside smallholder farmers. But as we look to expand in the African market, our message might be slightly different. We emphasise the deep history around fonio because many different cultures have a relationship with the grain.’

Read the full interview here.

Fonio grain, Yolélé Foods Fonio grain, Yolélé Foods