Speaking of good design, this device called the Aimulet LA recently won the 2006 Good Design Award for Ecology Design, and, by the looks of it, certainly deserved it. It's a batteryless, light-activated handheld audio communication device with an outer shell made from molded bamboo, designed by the Information Technology Research Institute at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). The device itself is designed to be held to your ear, like a cell phone. When you stand over special LED emitters in the ground, Aimulet LA receives the light signals via an array of spherical micro solar cells set into the bottom of the handset. It translates the signals into audio messages that are transmitted through a tiny speaker in the device.The name "Aimulet" is derived from the word "amulet" in combination with the letter "i", denoting "intelligent," "interactive" and "infrared" as well as "ai", which means "love" in Japanese. The initials "LA" stand for Laurie Anderson, whose Walk Project installation for the 2005 World Expo featured the Aimulet LA. In Laurie Anderson's installation, visitors used Aimulet LA to listen to poems in four different languages as they strolled through a Japanese-style garden; according to AIST, the technology at work in Aimulet LA can be put to use in public spaces such as outdoor exhibits and events, amusement facilities, train stations and parks, where it can be used in interactive media or entertainment. In addition, the low cost of the device means it could also double as an entrance ticket, annual pass or ID card.
The Good Design Award judges gave high marks to Aimulet LA's design concept for its ingenious blend of new technology and natural materials. The device also earned points for its lack of external power source, a factor that contributes to the creation of a battery-free environment. Being light-activated also makes it highly versatile, and its use of bamboo makes it easily recyclable and environmentally friendly. More information on the device is available from the AIST [pdf]. ::Good Design Award via ::Pink Tentacle