To Milan, with communicative car windows and earthquake-proof tables

To Milan, with communicative car windows and earthquake-proof tables

Bezalel Academy's design-technology innovations go on show at major exhibit next week

The Earthquake Proof Table in action (Photo credit: Courtesy)
The Earthquake Proof Table in action (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Students at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem will be showing off projects that meld design and technology at the prestigious Milan Design Week in mid-April.

Milan Design Week, or the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, is the largest trade fair of its kind in the world, and showcases the latest in furniture and design. Each year’s show has a unique theme, and this year the theme is “Design and Technology.”

Of the 2,500 exhibitors, a limited number of design academies were chosen to present advanced technology projects, and Bezalel, as one of the chosen academies, will be presenting designs that incorporate new technologies to solve various problems, as well as old technologies revamped for the modern era, the school said.

Among the projects to be presented will be the Bezalel-designed Windows of Opportunity, a host of applications using computers, touch technology, and interactive components that let passengers and drivers use their car windows to create, design, and communicate with other vehicles on the road. One app, called Spindows, is an an “in-window app” that lets users view the world from car windows. Another app, Otto, features an animated character projected over passing scenery that responds to real-time car performance, weather and landscape. The images appear on the car’s windows, with the animated character pointing out information as drivers pass sites.

The apps were created by Bezalel students at the school’s Future Lab, which is sponsored by General Motors. The innovations are to be rolled out by GM in several of its car models over the coming years.

Another Bezalel-created project that will be presented in Milan will be an Earthquake-Proof Table, providing a comprehensive solution by creating both covering protection and a passageway for rescue team accessibility, its inventors, Arthur Brutter and Ido Bruno, said. The table, designed using algorithms, has proven resistant to collapse in rigorous stress tests. When not in use as an earthquake or disaster shelter, it can be used by students for… well, studying, the pair said.

Other projects include a modular system to rescue a person trapped under a collapsed structure. The system gets its inspiration from a medical balloon catheter used to expand arteries. It is designed as a capsule, which is put into the opening of the ruins and is opened by inflating an air bag and locked at the size that enables a person to crawl through. After opening the first segment, it is possible to send through additional units, and by doing so, to create a safe corridor for rescue.

Prof. Ezri Tarazi, head of the Bezalel Master of Design (M.Des) program, and Haim Parnas, head of the Bachelor of Design program, are the curators of the Israeli exhibition, dubbed “Design Bonanza” by participating students. “The balance in the design world is shifting from beauty-only products to designs that are more practical and problem-solving in nature. The shift is towards experimental design that pushes us forward into producing products that have real, practical uses,” Parnas said.

“The hidden dreams in ‘Design Bonanza’ try to illustrate the urge, discovery and future products of young designers in Israel,” said Tarazi. “Bezalel is a cutting-edge laboratory of design in which students explore and experiment with the unconventional and unordinary in design today, and Milan is the best place to expose the incredible work that Bezalel’s young designers consistently produce.”

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