The Best, Weirdest, and Most Wonderful Gadget Designs of 2008

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Click to viewThe 2008 International Design Excellence Awards are in. These are like the Oscars of the industrial design world, taking the pulse of what's going on, highlighting tons of weird and wonderful gadgets. We have picked the best, the weirdest, and the most wonderful, from laser liners that look like Wall-E's Eve evil twin, microwave containers with lids, and wall-mounted home server enclosures straight out of Star Trek, to self-propelled sprayers (like me), NYC condom dispensers/wrappers (no connection there), a "vibrating massager" that looks like an aubergine, and even a precision timing detonation system.

The Gadget: Dyno Nobel Super EZ Connector - Precision Timing Detonation System

What it is: "Dyno Nobel's Super EZ Connectors form the attachments of a precision, non-electric, timed detonation system used in blasting. They link together shocktubes, a type of specialized fuse which burns at a rate of 7000 feet per second."

Why we like it: They look like Scalextric controls. They make things explode. What is not to like.


The Gadget: Jimmyjane FORM 6 Water-Resistant, Rechargeable Vibrating Massager

What it is: "Form 6 is the only rechargeable vibrating massager that is also water-resistant, making it suitable for use in the shower."

Why we like it: Water-resistant. Rechargeable. Vibrator. As if anyone needed any more reasons why.


The Gadget: Geode Microwave

What it is: "Geode is a high-efficiency microwave that is more intuitive, attractive, efficient and sustainable than standard models. It is composed of two parts: a base and a lid."

Why we like it: It looks amazingly good-as opposed to your usual fugly microwave oven-and it's incredibly useful. Too bad this one is just a concept for now.


The Gadget: Hitachi Laser Liner Series

What it is: "The Hitachi Laser Liner Series is ideal for the positioning of slope structures such as stairs, handrails, internal building structures, electric lighting facilities and the alignments of tile joints for outer walls or plastering."

Why we like it: It looks like an evil robot. Too bad the laser can be set from "line up" to "stun" to "DESTROY HUMANS."


The Gadget: Belkin TuneStudio

What it is: "TuneStudio is a compact four-channel mixer for the iPod."

Why we like it: Knobs. Pointy ones.


The Gadget: Lite2go Lamp

What it is: "The lite2go is a sustainably-designed household lamp that sheds the excess of packaging by eliminating it all together."

Why we like it: The lamp is the package is the lamp.


The Gadget: Parruda Self-Propelled Sprayer

What it is: "This (vehicle) is an upgrade from the self-propelled Parruda Sprayer launched in 2000, which incorporates technological, functional and style enhancements designed to meet the requirements of agricultural input consumers." It uses GPS, has new headlights, and increased field of vision.

Why we like it: A vehicle. To spray. The cockpit, the wheels, the handrails, all looks space-age weird and that's why we like it. That and the fact that I'm picturing myself driving it down the US1 from NYC to the Florida keys in one of these, spraying everyone with, humm, dunno, some kind of sprayable thing.


The Gadget: The Amphibian™ Dynamic Scuba Fin

What it is: "This design allows divers to walk and climb boat ladders without removing their fins."

Why we like it: So simple, and knowing the pain it is to do this, so effective. I want them. Also, it's called amphibian, like some of the ladies of the world.


The Gadget: The Mule

What it is: "The Mule is an all-in-one stacker, transporter and portable work bench, designed for ease of use and to help increase productivity and reduce workplace injuries. It has a tough, steel-framed platform that can handle up to 350 pounds of material."

Why we like it: Not to be confused by its Boston Dynamics' relative, this Mule useful in so many ways, sturdy, and lets you get out your manly DIY instincts to abandon them two hours later, when you wake up in the hospital without three of your fingers and a major head contusion.


The Gadget: frog Light Bulb

What it is: "The light bulb concept takes the form of the traditional light bulb, but one-ups it in efficiency by using a high-output LED as the light source. This prototype also uses half the power of a fluorescent while lasting ten times longer."

Why we like it: We like our friends at frog design. I like this light even more, because I love the shape of the classic bulb and I would hate to see it disappear in a fashion-disco-club nightmare of minimalist LED lights.


The Gadget: Speedglas™ SL (Super Light)

What it is: "Speedglas SL is a welding helmet with an auto-darkening filter to protect the eyes."

Why we like it: It's the world's lightest welding helmet and it looks like a helmet I would wear while trying to battle cyber-dragons in sci-fi Middle Earth. And one more thing: Flashdance.


The Gadget: SylvanSport GO - Mobile Adventure Gear

What it is: "This is a three-in-one towable vehicle that morphs from a compact, traveling profile to a rugged toy-hauler mode to a spacious and comfortable camping configuration."

Why we like it: TRANSFORMERS. And apparently you can go camping with it.


The Gadget: The RidgeRunner™

What it is: "The RidgeRunner is designed to increase safety and efficiency for construction workers as they install wooden roof trusses. Placement of a truss requires a worker at the peak to align and brace it."

Why we like it: Not that we are going to install wooden roof trusses anytime soon, but the heavy-duty industrial look of the RidgeRunner makes me want to start doing that now.


The Gadget: Touch Sight

What it is: "Touch Sight is a revolutionary digital camera designed for visually impaired people. Simple features make it easy to use, including a unique feature which records sound for three seconds after pressing the shutter button. The user can then use the sound as reference when reviewing and managing the photos. Touch Sight does not have an LCD but instead has a lightweight, flexible Braille display sheet which displays a 3D image by embossing the surface, allowing the user to touch their photo."

Why we like it: The design is simple and the idea is great, specially the Braille display sheet with embossed images. Too bad this one is just a concept too (designed by Samsung).


The Gadget: Armarac - 19' Wall Mounter Server Enclosure

What it is: "The Armarac represents the evolution of the traditional 19-inch computer rack. It is the world's first zero-footprint, compact, wall-mounted enclosure for computer and networking equipment."

Why we like it: I want to put a few servers when I move to my new NYC apartment and I don't want a horrible mini-rack. Neither I would have the space. This seems like the perfect solution, it's smart and it will look great (even if I install it in a closet.)


The Gadget: Artengo RollNet

What it is: "Rollnet makes it possible to play table tennis in apartments or outdoors, on big tables and small tables — wherever someone feels like striking up a game."

Why we like it: For those of your how play table tennis, being able to do it anywhere, without a full table, the RollNet is perfect. For the rest of us, we just like the concept and the looks.


The Gadget: Bloomberg Flexible Display

What it is: "This highly flexible and compact dual-head display allows subscribers to the Bloomberg Professional to easily adjust the screen's display height, angle, vertical and horizontal orientations for optimum use with different software tools."

Why we like it: One day, displays will look almost invisible from their sides, and be configurable in any way possible. The Bloomberg Flexible Display brings that day a lot closer. >This< close.


The Gadget: NYC Condom Dispenser/NYC Condom Wrapper

What it is: "The New York City Condom and Dispenser is an initiative of the NYC Department of Health, since the free distribution of condoms is an effective measure against HIV infections and unwanted pregnancies."

Why we like it: Because.

As you can see, it's refreshing to see that great design gets applied to every single aspect of our lives. [IDEA awards]