3 Concepts Rethinking Material Choices in Technology

Can you guess what the device above is used for? Both the material used and the shape offer almost no apparent clues of its purpose (until you turn it around to inspect the ports). This is one of several recent concept designs offering an interesting glimpse of a future where home technologies move beyond the plasticky sheen of current options and integrate materials and designs that are more harmonious with the rest of our home.

UK design student, Tom Sudlow, ditched the usual staid choice of materials and standard form and turned to African Wenge hardwood and sandblasted aluminum for his concept Wenge Wi-Fi Router, designed with the specific instruction of "don't design a hideaway product".
I aimed this product at small businesses who don’t need the expensive costs of an integrated networked system. The main unit consists of the router and its plug. The connections for LAN and the ADSL are situated on the plug, as shown below. There is also a USB port for connecting printers and hard drives. This then allows the people connected to the Wi-Fi to all print and store their data from one location.

There is also a booster unit available for extending the reach of the router to the hard to reach areas of the business. It works using existing technology, by amplifying the signal from the router. It also has an extra LAN connection to link to a computer for a better connection.

Wood and aluminum are already divergent from the typical off-the-shelf tech options out there, but how about concrete? O'Dea Design's Raw Induction Series merges wireless induction charging pads for wireless mobile devices (Qi charging technology) with cork-topped shaped concrete or bent wood bases, offering charging stations designed to be proudly displayed as works of decor or art (similar to Victor Johansson's beautiful ceramic and wood Qi charging vessel).

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Recycled molded paper pulp was converted into credit-card-sized USB storage flash drives to be torn off when needed. GIGS.2.GO was made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, avoiding the use of plastic, an exploratory concept for truly "greener" recyclable technology.

(Images:Tom Sudlow; O'Dea Design;  BOLTgroup)