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MIT researchers are working on AI-based knitting design software that will let anyone, even novices, make their own clothes

The growing popularity of 3D printing machines and companies like Thingiverse and Shapeways have given previously unimaginable powers to makers, enabling them to create everything from cosplay accessories to replacement parts. But even though 3D printing has created a new world of customized objects, most of us are still buying clothes off the rack. Now researchers at MIT are working on software that will allow anyone to customize or design their own knitwear, even if they have never picked up a ball of yarn.

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), led by computer scientist Alexandre Kaspar, released two new papers describing the software today. One is about a system called InverseKnit that automatically creates patterns from photos of knitted items. The other one introduces new design software, called CADKnit, that allows people with no knitting or design experience to quickly customize templates, adjusting the size, final shape and decorative details (like the gloves shown below).

The final patterns can be used with a knitting machine, which have been available to home knitters for years, but still require a fair amount of technical knowledge in order to design patterns for.

MIT knitting gloves2

Gloves made using CADknit

Both CADKnit and InverseKnit want to make designing and making machine-knitted garments as accessible as 3D printing is now. Once the software is commercialized, Kaspar envisions “knitting as a service” for consumers who want to order customized garments. It can also enable clothing designers to spend less time learning how to write knitwear patterns for machines and reduce waste in the prototyping and manufacturing process. Another target audience for the software are hand-knitters who want to try a new way of working with yarn.

“If you think about it like 3D printing, a lot of people have been using 3D printers or hacking 3D printers, so they are great potential users for our system, because they can do that with knitting,” says Kaspar.

One potential partner for CADKnit and InverseKnit is Kniterate, a company that makes a digital knitting machine for hobbyists, makerspaces and small businesses. Kaspar says he has been talking to Kniterate’s team about making knitwear customization more accessible.

To develop InverseKnit, researchers first created a dataset of knitting patterns with matching images that were used to train a deep neural network to generate machine knitting patterns. The team says that during InverseKnit’s testing, the system produced accurate instructions 94% of the time. There is still some work to do before InverseKnit can be commercialized. For example, the machine was tested using one specific type of acrylic yarn, so it needs to be trained to work with other fibers.

CADKnit, on the other hand, combines 2D images with CAD and photo-editing software to create customizable templates. It was tested with knitting newbies, who despite having little machine knitting experience were still able to create relatively complex garments like gloves and effects, including lace motifs and color patterns.

“3D printing took a while before people were comfortable enough to think they could do something with it,” says Kaspar. “It will be the same thing with what we do.”

It’s Jony Ive’s world now. We just live in it.

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Sometimes, nice guys finish first — even in the corridors of the world’s wealthiest company. 

Apple’s design guru Sir Jony Ive is departing the company he helped shoot into the stratosphere on the best possible terms. He gets to found his own company, called LoveFrom, and design for other clients; Apple maintains its longstanding link by being first among those clients. The world gets more streamlined Ive designs in its daily life. It’s a rare win-win-win. 

Whatever he builds next, Ive will take over the world in the same behind-the-scenes manner that got him here. How behind-the-scenes? Here’s a telling tale of the first time I interviewed him in 2001, long before he added the “Sir.” His groundbreaking iPod had just hit the market. He was soft-spoken, careful, serious. A lot of what he said was the usual overly evocative design language — even then, his speech was peppered with the oft-parodied Jony Ive-ismsRead more…

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Reddit rolls out its first redesign in more than a decade

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Reddit’s design has stayed mostly the same since it launched more than a decade ago, and that’s the way many of its users like it.

But starting from Monday, the news aggregator will slowly roll out a redesign to a small percentage of users, Reddit’s administrators announced in a post.

The refresh will apply to the desktop version of the site, and in coming weeks users will be able to opt-in to the new version of Reddit. 

Reddit's new card view.

Reddit’s new card view.

Image: reddit

As WIRED notes, the redesign has been in the works for the past year-and-a-half. Reddit’s co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman noted in an “Ask Me Anything” last year that the site’s information-dense setup was often confronting to new users, hence the need for a redesign. Read more…

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Made from metal and driven by the wind, these sculptures resemble pulsing alien creatures

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Anthony Howe is a sculptor who doesn’t like static works of art. For the last 30 years, his material of choice has been metal, and his purpose: to make it come to life.

Howe has built hundreds of kinetic sculptures that he says were plucked straight from his imagination. Today, some are scattered across the world, while others are blending in with nature in his studio on Orcas Island, Washington. Read more…

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BMW and LEGO collaborated to create the concept hoverbike of our dreams

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LEGO and BMW teamed up to create a model set for one of the automaker’s most popular motorcycles – BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. 

Lego Technic engineers used the same 603 pieces from the model to construct a concept hoverbike. Then, their colleagues at BMW, impressed by the design, built a life-sized replica of the futuristic bike. Read more…

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Outdoor ad firm buys Swiss dating app Blinq to power beacon push

Blinq The dating game sure is tough to maintain. Zurich-based dating app Blinq has been acquired by a Swiss outdoor advertising firm, APG|SGA, with the latter coveting the team’s experience in rolling out beacon networks for a new division that will be developing interactive ads. Read More

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Salesforce acquires Sequence to build out its UX design services

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-01-31-39 Salesforce has made another acquisition that underscores how the CRM and cloud software giant is looking to sell more services to its customers that complement the software they are already buying. It has acquired Sequence, a user experience design agency based out of San Francisco and New York that works with brands like Best Buy, Peets, Apple, Google and many more. The news was announced… Read More

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Boeing's new spacesuit is far out

Boeing revealed its new sleek and chic spacesuit designed for astronauts aboard the Boeing/Bigelow CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Launched on Atlas V rockets the Starliner capsule will shuttle commercial crew members to and from the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit locales. From Boeing:

The Starliner spacesuit provides greater pressurized mobility and is about 40 percent lighter than previous suits. Its innovative layers will keep astronauts cooler as well. The touchscreen-friendly gloves allow astronauts to interact with the capsule’s tablets while the boots are breathable and slip resistant. Zippers in the torso area will make it easier for astronauts to comfortably transition from sitting to standing. In addition to protecting astronauts during launch and the return to Earth, the suit also helps connect astronauts to ground and space crews through the communications headset within the helmet. The suit’s hood-like soft helmet sports a wide polycarbonate visor to give Starliner passengers better peripheral vision throughout their ride to and from space.

Video from Boeing:

Photo from Boeing:

Photo from NASA/Cory Huston:

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Mozilla rebrands

Mozilla announced its new BRAND IDENTITY today. There it is above. Reception has not been kind. But is it ever? Its nerdliness (:// indeed!) is being held responsible for the inelegance of the logotype, but it’s the best thing about it.

I know it’s easy to toss off “how I woulda done it” logo designs, but I think a little subtlety could have worked wonders. Something like the following, perhaps? Making the :// live within the flow of the type…

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