Glass cars, sentient spoons, and an inventor who's challenging our idea of normal.
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The CW

What is normal?

Many designers create products that are normal but better — or "super normal," as a Japanese design philosophy calls it.

Dominic Wilcox, a designer and inventor from northeast England, has turned this philosophy on its head by using normal items and twisting them into something whimsical. By using everyday items, he takes things we understand and twists them into something "surprising and inventive."


The results are often playful and humorous, like a tummy-rumbling amplification device:

GIF via Dominic Wilcox/YouTube.

Wilcox explained why playfulness opens up the creative process in an interview for design publication Cool Hunting:

"Sometimes there’s a temptation to think, 'What does it do? How do we sell that?' That closes the idea down. I try to keep it open and push it as far as possible. It’s about playfulness, open-mindedness and taking risks, the freedom to make mistakes, whatever they are."

Many of his playful inventions are actually kind of useful.

It's not all tummy-rumbling amplification devices; many of Wilcox's inventions are designed to solve minor inconveniences with whimsical solutions.

Like a nose stylus for hands-free scrolling:

All images via Dominic Wilcox, used with permission.

Shoes that light up to point you in the right direction using built-in GPS navigation:

Stickers to make your shiny car or bicycle look like junk to would-be thieves:

A spoon that "wakes up" as you eat with it, then "loses energy" and goes to sleep after four hours to let you know it's time for a snack:

A teacup with its own mini cooling fan (sadly, this one's only a prototype):

For Wilcox, it's about playing with our idea of "normal."

At last year's London Design Festival, Wilcox showcased his invention for the future — a future where our roads will be so safe that cars could be made of glass. He created a driverless car prototype with colorful stained glass that includes a comfy bed nestled inside:

Passengers would simply relax or take a snooze in their beautiful car while they're safely whisked to their destination.

It completely reimagines what a "normal" driving experience could be. Wilcox mused to Cool Hunting:

"[In my imagination] the future is super safe, so why not have a glass car? Some people might think it’s ridiculous, but why not?"

Wilcox is even twisting what it means to be an inventor.

Stephen Colbert invited Wilcox to appear on "The Late Show," where he tested a number of Wilcox's inventions, including a cereal-serving head crane device:

GIF via "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

When Colbert asked Wilcox, "Are you a sculptor or are you an inventor? Because these things seem like conceptual art at the same time as being inventions," Wilcox replied:

"I just like being imaginative and creative. It doesn't matter how I express it. ... I've tried [to invent a word] many times. I did my business cards ... and underneath my name I [put] 'inventurer' — half adventurer, half inventor — but then I scrapped that one."

Here's to the "inventurer" in us all.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon