Apple’s Ex-CEO Designed a Smartphone for the Developing World

John Sculley, the former Apple CEO famous for firing Steve Jobs in the '80s, believes he’s created a smartphone that strikes the elusive balance between quality and affordability. Last week, his company Obi Worldphone announced the release of two new handsets, the SF1 and SJ1.5. The phones will go for $199 and $129, respectively, and will be targeted at buyers in the developing world.

According to WIRED, over the next few years, one billion people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are expected to buy a smartphone for the first time. Tech companies, including Sculley’s own year-old Obi Worldphone, are scrambling to infiltrate these emerging markets. Their new phones offer a cheaper alternative to the premium brands currently dominating markets like Brazil, while providing higher quality than the knock-offs that are sold on the streets.

The phones are high-quality in appearance as well, thanks to Beats by Dr. Dre designer Robert Brunner. To set the Android-powered phones apart from their competition, he designed them to have a square top, round bottom, and seamless, rolled edges for a sleek silhouette. The screen on the SF1 is also elevated slightly above the body of the phone, which further protects the glass from breaking and brings the interface closer to the user. 

In just the first quarter of the year, local brands and Chinese manufacturers saw an average growth of 73 percent in smartphone sales. Obi Worldphone hopes their new products are appealing enough to steal sales away from their cheaper competition in developing countries. To start they plan to target the untapped markets in Nigeria, South Africa, Vietnam, Turkey, and Pakistan. For many customers, the SF1 and SJ1.5 won't just be their first smartphone—it will be their first computer as well.

[h/t: Wired]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The Force Field Cloak
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.


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