The only thing uber-designer Yves Behar hasn't turned his hand to yet is Apple computers.
The Swiss-born 47-year-old has crafted popular products like the Jambox, the Ouya gaming micro-console, and the XO Laptop, just to name a few. He's been lauded by Time, CNN, and FastCompany and his work, like Jony Ive's, has been featured in many museums, including those in San Francisco and Behar's hometown of Lausanne, Switzerland.
When I brought home a fizzy-water-making SodaStream Source a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see, emblazoned on the front of the box I picked up at the local Target (not fancy-pants Habitat), "Designed by Yves Behar."
This weird insertion of industrial design into the most basic of retail spaces got me thinking: what else has Behar designed, and how do they fit into our everyday lives? Click through the images above for the 10 best answers to that very question.
August Smart Lock
As Apple gets into the smart home market, they'll need to take a look at August Smart Lock, which Behar designed to be safe, secure, and social. You can program it on the flay and remotely from your iOS device, letting people in with a one-time pass or on a timed basis. It may not have shipped yet, but boy is it gorgeous and functional.
Yet another market category definitively cornered by Behar and his team - the portable Bluetooth speaker. The Jambox was the first device in this segment with a decent sound and rugged yet stylish design, making all other newcomers to the space take heed. It came out in 2010, but only took a year to become the top-selling digital speaker in the US.
If you've ever seen anyone use a Bluetooth headset (the original Glasshole), you're seeing a product category that Jawbone helped define. Behar is the chief creative officer of the company that brought beautiful design and fashion cache to an essentially commodity product, likes Beats has done for music headphones.
Ok, let's be adults here: most folks masturbate. Behar's team came up with a simple, waterproof, rechargeable and ingeniously designed set of vibrators that -- my women friends assure me -- are the best in class. The series is called "Pleasure to the People," and it's a collaboration between JimmyJane's Ethan Imboden and Yves Behar, leading to the Form 2, 3, and 4, as well as numerous design awards. Design matters, people.
Mint Robot Floor Cleaner
The Roomba took the world by storm, offering a vacuuming robot that would clean your entire house without any input from you. Behar's team at Fuseproject created the Mint, a square lozenge of a hard floor cleaning robot that uses your own wet cloths (like the ones from Swiffer) to do the same thing for your hardwood, tile, or linoleum. iRobot liked it so much, the acquired the company Behar created the Mint for, Evolution Robotics, in 2012.
The Slingbox was a breakthrough device: a box that could capture and then "sling" any media it could connect with to your computer, long before the Apple TV or Roku presence in the media landscape. The current version can stream to any laptop, smartphone or tablet via the internet. The overall design looks like it's made for a Braille-reader, but the logo (which still remains today) perfectly captures the idea of media streaming in one small bit of type.
Ouya Micro Console
The little micro console that could is based on an Android operating system, and costs all of $99. The Ouya took the gaming world by storm when it first arrived on Kickstarter, offering a mobile gaming ecosystem that you could play on your big-screen TV. While indie gamers' ardor may have cooled in the last year or so as the Ouya company struggles to remain relevant, all the hip kids have one of these stylish devices in their homes.
Here's a redesign that only seems obvious after the fact. The frustration of opening a medicine bottle is a common theme, especially for those who suffer from arthritis and other joint and muscle issues. This new Tylenol bottle can be opened with a palm, but still meets child safety requirements in this country. You can even see through the back to know how many you have left without having to shake the bottle when you pick it up.
If you're gonna wear a fitness tracker on your wrist, you want it to look and feel good to wear. Behar's Jawbone created the Up and Up24 to do just that back before "wearables" was even a thing. The Up is designed to track your sleep habits along with your food and calorie usage, and is made to be worn all the time. It's got a rechargable battery that lasts for ten days, so you've always got it with you. It connects with your iPhone and various fitness and productivity apps, making it one of the most robust fitness band ecosystems out there.
Here's the world's first charity laptop, running on Linux and able to be charged with a crank. This makes the XO Laptop perfect for children in developing countries where electricity and computing devices are unheard of and exhorbitantly expensive. During the Give One, Get One campaign in 2006 and 2007, you could buy a laptop for yourself and donate a second one to a developing country for $199. The XO has gone through four iterations as well as a tablet version, and is a triumph of industrial design.
Your Ouya just got a little creepier thanks to the developer of creepy platforming game, Whispering Willows. The trailer (below) shows protagonist Elena as she searches for her missing father through innovative environmental puzzles and supernatural obstacles.
“[Elena] must harness the powers of her heritage,” writes developer David Logan on the Kickstarter page, “utilizing astral projection and other ethereal abilities to find her father before he, too becomes lost to the hopeless morass of the Willows estate.”
If that (and the trailer below) doesn’t have you dusting off your tiny Android-powered gaming cube, we don’t know what will.
It’s been more than 700 days since we’ve seen an Apple TV hardware update, but Apple’s not the only company hurrying out the finishing touches on TV set-top box.
Amazon is planning to launch its answer to the Apple TV this March, according to a report from Re/code. The Amazon TV box will take aim at the Apple TV and Roku, utilizing Amazon’s growing video catalog.
The first thing you notice about OUYA is that, unlike everything else stacked under your TV, it’s not a massive box that just sits there collecting dust. Rather, the Yves Behar-designed OUYA is a small and elegant piece of hardware that deserves to be on display.
Don’t let OUYA’s small size fool you, though – it was built using technology similar to what powers our smartphones and tablets, (with a bit of tweaking to the quad-core 1.7ghz processor) and is driven by Google’s open-source Android 4.1 Jellybean operating system. And Cult of Mac Deals has the OUYA for 32% off the regular price – only $85.
Android-powered video game consoles like the Ouya haven’t exactly been a huge success, but Chinese electronics maker Huawei is hoping to change that with Tron, a device that looks remarkably similar to Apple’s new Mac Pro — albeit a lot smaller. It’s powered by a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor and 2GB of RAM, and it’s expected to cost less than $150.
Although it was a great idea, this notion of a cheap Android game console, the Ouya left a lot to be desired at launch. The hardware had some obvious deficiencies, like controller dead spots, but more importantly, the game library at launch was practically non-existent.
Right now, it looks like the Ouya is a dud: a great idea that just didn’t have a chance because it couldn’t get a push. But you know who might be able to take that same idea and get developers to treat it more seriously? Amazon. And they’re working to do just that.
Two-man Detour Games wants to give the casual crowd a hardcore game, with RAW, a game currently in development. It will hopefully get funded as a Kickstarter project, too.
RAW will be a 2D action platformer/runner on rails for Android, OUYA, and desktop computers, and hopefully on iOS as well, if the project meets its stretch goals. In it, a cyborg juggernaut named RAW must keep running to stay charged up.