For those of us who were privy to the experiences of growing up sometime during the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s, we understood the aesthetic that is ‘chrome.’ We saw it used liberally on car bumpers, door handles, appliances and even on shoes. But a quick scan of today’s high-tech products will provide you with one bit of insight — that today’s style is all about matte black — and it is the moniker of what is cool and hip in modern society.
As a design engineer, I am an admitted addict of carbon fiber. This space-age material is basically a fabric-like material made of woven graphite fibers, which, when impregnated with epoxy resin, devoid of any air bubbles, and baked to high-tensile perfection, is as strong as steel yet as light as cardboard. It is the material that first saw use in aerospace rockets and fighter jets, but has since matured in use to the point where you can find carbon fiber used in racing bicycles, car bodies, sunglasses and even kites.
But aside from the obvious performance benefits, carbon fiber has had an interesting side effect on design — it possesses an ultra-cool, textured black finish that screams technology.
With its black colored fibers, the appearance of carbon fiber can vary, from a glossy piano-black, woven texture known as a “3K” finish, to a flat, matte, non-reflective finish known as uni-directional or “UD” finish. The gloss black carbon was first to make itself known in industry, but has slowly given way to the matte black appearance of UD carbon fiber. While the color of the material is actually the black color of the fibers themselves, showing through the near-optically clear epoxy resin which coats and fills the fiber weave, the finish and appearance of the material is undeniably high-tech.
Designers, having learned how to utilize carbon fiber in their products, have latched onto the appearance aspect of carbon fiber, giving legs to woven or matte black finishes. Aside from sports- related items like snowboards and bikes, the use of carbon fiber has even made its way into furniture, power tools, automotive dashboards and yes, even laptops and tablets. Go into a local hardware store and you now see cans of matte black spray paint sitting alongside the standard paint colors. “Ferrari Red” and “Navy Blue” are yielding to the influence of “chalkboard black.”
As the technology of materials evolves, we will see the colors and finishes of products change as well. The color and texture of a material becomes the moniker for how that material is used in the design, as witnessed by the lack of painted material on many products. One only has to look at the appearance of color and texture to understand the underlying performance aspects of the product.
It’s only a matter time before matte black finds its way into more everyday consumer items. What becomes cool and hip today is no longer limited to form and function — the statement of color has as much to do with what people want as it does with user needs, and designers are following suit.
Get ready to welcome matte black into your world.
The new Save to Google Drive extension recently released for Chrome is very useful for those using that browser. It’s been pointed out that the ability to save images to Google Drive could be a play by Google to go after Evernote. The Evernote cloud service is much more than a simple repository for captured images so I don’t think it has anything to worry about from Google with the new extension. I think Google is actually aiming the extension at new Chromebook owners looking to make the Chrome OS more like a desktop OS.
Just right-click on the image and save it to the cloud.
Google is in the midst of a big push to bring the Chromebook to those looking for a cheap but full-featured laptop. With decent Chromebooks now available at a bargain basement price ($199 – $249), Google is obviously trying to push its Chrome OS into the mainstream.
See related: 11 good Chrome web apps for the Chromebook
While Chromebooks are not for everyone, the ability to add any Chrome extension can make them meet a lot of consumers’ needs. These extensions, coupled with tight Google Drive integration out of the box, can make the Chromebook appealing to a greater audience.
Chrome OS has a decent file manager app that puts the user’s Google Drive cloud storage right on the desktop. It facilitates moving files back and forth between local and cloud storage with extra software. Chromebook owners can attest to how useful it is to have complete access to the Google Drive on the desktop.
The new extension from Google makes it simple to capture any image directly to the Google Drive. Just right-click on the image and save it to the cloud. This adds a lot of utility to the Chromebook due to the integration with Google Drive mentioned earlier.
There are other Chrome extensions that make this image saving very useful. The Aviary extension is a decent, free image editor that is especially useful on the Chromebook. It works with images stored on the Google Drive and handles a lot of image editing needs.
The new Save to Google Drive extension takes on particular importance when Aviary is used. Just right-click any image to save it to the Google Drive and then edit it to your heart’s delight in Aviary. The resultant image can then be saved back to the Google Drive or easily moved to local storage on the Chromebook.
This sounds like a trivial feature but it is extremely powerful in practice. It is really useful for those also using the Evernote extension in Chrome. That makes it easy to shoot that edited image straight to an Evernote notebook in the cloud. This extensibility makes Chrome OS and those shiny new Chromebooks incredibly useful. You could say Chrome OS is getting more desktop-like over time.
Tags: New Chrome
Tags: New Chrome