Teaching Children to be Jewellers and Programmers Using Technology

(or, how to give your child a toy that is more powerful than the professional software you use in your day job.)

When I was a small child, parents would give their children LEGOs if their kids were interested in engineering or construction. They would give them a toy tool set if they wanted them interested in general contracting. Or they would give them a paint brush and palette if they never wanted them to leave home. (Only kidding.)

Silliness aside, making children’s tools to emulate what the adults do is as old a concept as toys themselves. I suppose it makes perfect sense, then, that once computers and user interfaces became sophisticated enough, developers would start introducing children’s toys that emulate professional design tools, to get them interested in similar careers when they grow up.

This new generation of computer games does just that, disguising some quite powerful design tools within a wrapper of fun.

Two particularly elegant examples are Microsoft FuseLab‘s Kodu, and Style Lab: Jewelry Design for Nintendo DS.

Style Lab Jewellery Design for Nintendo DS

Style Lab: Jewelry Design for Nintendo DS is a spin off from the rest of the Style Lab series, in which little girls are given a user interface to take a picture of themselves and apply virtual fashion designs and accessories.

What’s so interesting about Style Lab: Jewellery Design is that many aspects of the tools, basic interface, and component library are similar to what we see in a professional environment with software like Gemvision’s Countersketch Studio.

If that all sounds a bit far-fetched for a video game, perhaps it is. See for yourself:

(I’ll discuss Kodu after the break below…)

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How Virtual Product Design Will Affect Online Retail

I recently stumbled upon an article from Adobe’s Think Tank about the importance of virtual stock, and how it will affect both retail and manufacturing. Although it is an old posting, it’s worth repeating here:

image courtesy Adobe.com

Creative Gesture of Vapid Prototyping? The Importance of Fictional Products.

Contemporary Art Jewellers Who Work in CAD and 3D Printing

Rapid Prototyping (more recently known as 3D printing) has been available for industrial design for over 2 decades now, and it’s been in increasingly widespread use with jewellery for a little less than a decade. But even with that, there are only a handful of designers who use rapid prototyping as a creative medium in and of itself. Mostly designers seem to handle CAD/CAM according to the old cosmetics adage: “If it’s done well, you won’t be able to see it.”

There are at least two major universities which have worked hard to push the boundaries of what can be done with this medium (namely Tyler School of Art, and Jewellery Industry Innovation Center at BCU), but once designers leave these halls few continue on a track of innovation with this, even after all this time.

This explains why I find it rather exciting to run across designers like this:

3D printed nylon bangle by Joshua DeMonte

3 Ways Augmented Reality Is Already Being Used in Jewellery and Accessories Retail

In case you didn’t notice, the Microsoft X-Box Kinect has been launched today.

I’ve been following AR (Augmented Reality) technology for a while, even before it had been given the name Augmented Reality. It has roots going back to the Virtual Reality craze in the mid 90’s, and has been in development in its own right since the early noughties. Market-ready applications have only really started appearing last year, and adoption has started this year.

The following 3 examples not only show the potential for Augmented Reality, but also how companies are already using it for practical retail or entertainment uses.

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From the Other Side of the Pond – Good Business Lessons From American Jewellers To British Jewellery Businesses (Updated)

In the field of jewellery design and manufacturing, there are a few American transplants over here to Europe (Elizabeth Gage and Jack Rosenthal of JAR). While I wouldn’t be so audacious as to compare myself to their talents, I too am an American transplant to the Europe, the UK in particular. Given my experience with both the American and British jewellery markets, I reckon this gives me some perspective to allow me to talk about some key differences in the American and British jewellery industries.

Since this blog focuses on jewellery manufacturing technology (in particular, technologies related to CAD/CAM), and I would hardly claim any economic expertise, I’ll direct my focus primarily onto the business of jewellery design and manufacturing. It’s all too easy to say that there are differences in the tastes of the consumers in each country, but the really interesting question here is how are businesses affected by consumer tastes and the economic climates in which they operate?

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Sharing Between CAD Programs – The Trouble With Importing and Exporting Models

I wanted to take a moment to talk about sharing.


…No, I don’t mean “free love”. I’m talking about the ability of different software packages to pass models and files between each other, more commonly referred to importing and exporting files. The problem is, as all of you who have worked with multiple different CAD software packages before, it is not always that easy.

It really boils down to a question of: why does there need to be so many different proprietary file formats?

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Finger Painting Jewellery (or How to Design a Jewellery CAD Model on a Touch Screen)

While in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across this.

In case you’re wondering, the above software is Firestorm CAD, a new piece of jewellery design software based upon Spaceclaim‘s CAD architecture. Note that Firestorm was designed to work with a mouse and keyboard interface, so this multitouch interface could theoretically be used on any CAD software, with some adjustments.

My thoughts on the above after the break.

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