Can design change the world? Or at least let’s try to change healthcare. Or shall we start with our education system? There are plenty to change and no shortage of ideas. Do we need more new and cool products? Or we just need products that last? Or products that are cheap to repair and not throwaways that are costing our environment?
We will still be dealing with the problems caused by the last 50 years of accelerated industrialization and electronics are the worst.
For me, I really wish I could redesign air travel experiences. It is so bad today. They are like flying prisons except they don’t give you the orange uniform (I like the old black and white ones than the orange one, not sure why they change it). Cost savings measures are making the experience ridiculous. Here is one good example. Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (below photo of myself flying All Nippon) has started asking passengers to make use of the toilet prior to boarding in a bid to reduce aircraft weight.
The airline has announced that “toilet monitors” would be located by the boarding gates in departure lounges to ask waiting passengers to relieve themselves before boarding the aircraft. The airline is under the belief that empty bladders will equate to lighter passengers, which will ultimately mean lighter aircraft and fuel savings. They started the policy this month (as an experiment) and hope to achieve a reduction of five-tons in carbon emissions over one month. The question for passengers is what if you don’t? I guess they can charge you for the weight you drop or if you are a Start Alliance gold, you will get an allowance for that. This is so crazy.
The best-loved engineering design projects of the century must be the Concord (1976-2003) and that’s a rare example of successful international collaboration. Its Anglo-French designers produced the world’s first supersonic commercial passenger aircraft which at its fastest flew from NY to London in less than 3 hours. How I wish if that was popularized and we can fly from New York to Shanghai in 6 hours.
Concord, exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. Routinely flying faster than twice the speed of sound with a take-off speed of 250 mph (400 kmph) and a cruising speed of 1,350 mph (2,160 kmph) at an altitude of up to 60,000 feet, twice the height of Mount Everest. At its fastest on 7 Feb 1996, Concorde flew from New York to London in just 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. It takes me longer than that to get from mid-town to LaGuardia.
I travel almost every week and I just hate the idea of being cramped in an airplane. The design of airplane assumes people are cargo. Well actually they are designed like a bus, that’s why some are called Airbus. When most frequent travelers are for business, air-craft manufacturers and airlines need to rethink to make cabins double as mobile offices and provide email and Internet access. Since the 70s, Boeing's 747 (seating capacity of 524) has dominated the aircraft market. They are more comfortable than previous design. In the 90s Airbus began the development of the double-decker A380, designed to give 50% more floor space than the next largest airliner (capacity increases to 800 passengers). So how do we redesign the aircraft experience? To start with, we need to think office, theater or even casinos or pub.