Designing between Earth and Space

by paradoxig

Nonfiction Design turns science fiction into reality for a better future with the goal to innovate in multidisciplinary teams, use constantly novel technology. And the innovations are mostly related to Space. 

Space offers opportunities for all industries, and 50 years from now every industry will have a foot in space, and 100 years from now, humans will travel in space – for tourism for example. And as everything has to fit humans’ needs- not everybody will want to go through 10 years of training. But, also, because a lot of innovation for space, can be afterwards brought back to Earth.  

Nonfiction is an award-winning creative studio specializing in industrial design, branding, user experience design, space architecture, engineering and strategy.
Nonfiction turn science fiction into reality for a better future.

Phnam Bagley designs the future of everything, on and off planet Earth. She is a French industrial designer, futurist and aerospace architect creating cutting-edge hardware and experiences in Wearables, Healthcare and Wellness, Education, Robotics, Transportation, and Aerospace. She specializes in turning groundbreaking technologies into attainable, intuitive, and beautiful products and experiences that help humans become the best versions of themselves.
Her work is exclusively focused on projects that support the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and create a positive impact on humanity, the environment and innovation
Phnam works with a variety of companies, from startups to Fortune 500 and government agencies, covering 4 continents. Clients include NASA, Intel, Facebook, Atari, Philips, Alpine, Mistletoe, Halo Neuroscience, and more.

Mardis Bagley has designed award-winning products and experiences in the fields of Transformational Technology, Consumer Electronics, Wearables, Medical, Neuroscience, Lifestyle products, and many more.
He has designed for Nike, Facebook, Logitech, Dell, Intel, Chevron, Jiffy Lube, Corning, Symantec, and many smaller innovation-driven companies. Mardis has 15 patents to his name and has garnered hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and venture capital funding for his clients.
Mardis is a Co-Founder and Creative Director at Nonfiction, a San Francisco-based creative agency. Together with his partner and wife, Phnam Bagley, he engages clients that align with the studio’s vision; to turn science fiction into reality for a better future. This ethos aligns cutting-edge innovation with behavior change and manufacturing to produce products with impact.

They believe the best way to spread good design in the world is by sharing good practices, demystifying design and being upfront about what it takes to do it right. They founded Nonfiction with the vision of designing a better future in all industries, connecting their network and extensive knowledge of technology, science, manufacturing, sustainability and futurism for the benefit of 21st century global flourishing. We invite you to watch, learn, debate, comment with your own experiences and start an honest conversation about design and its evolution. We invite non-designers to the table and discuss with us what could be improved in their organization and inspire group creativity.

‍At SXSW 2023, Nonfiction Design presented some of their Product Innovations and how they relate to both Space and Earth. Some that we found most intriguing were:

Orbital University

The Orbital University was a project done with the ISS, US National Laboratory, and World Design Organization. And the idea was to create twin labs, in microgravity and on the surface of the earth. As universities have labs in biotech, robotics, and physics it would be great to know what happens when all of these same experiments happen in microgravity? 

What is the difference between the two? 

One of the things that we’ve discovered so far is that chemotherapy in mice is more effective in microgravity that is on the surface of the earth. So, we can start dreaming about Dream Space University

Health in Space: Swallowable Robots?

Astronauts’ health in space are constantly monitored: blood, urine samples, body temperature, heart rate, etc. This is because microgravity and isolation from space can be dangerous for the body. Monitoring all that is a lot of work, and if something goes really wrong, there is no emergency doctor, no surgery. 

So, the question is: how to give good health care to people who are not next to doctors? 

One answer is telemedicine. A robot in the shape of a pill, that can be easily swallowed, and can look inside the body and offer health information to a remote doctor. 

Currently the prototype has 12 millimeters in diameter, which makes it swallowable and has a video camera and  propellers  to orient around through the stomach and your gastrointestinal system to give live feedback about the body from anywhere in the world. And the cost has dropped drastically, so even rural communities, underserved communities can take advantage of this powerful tool. 

And in working with indie addicts, we created a video to tell the origin story and kind of where this idea came from. And we’d like to share that with you today.

Workout in Space: Learn 40% faster? 

Living in microgravity, in isolation, in a stressful environment exposed to radiation, astronauts tend to lose bone mass or experience muscle atrophy. On average, astronauts stay in space approximately 6 months, so there are a lot of changes happening in the body, and they have to do work-outs two hours each day. 

The product Halo Sport by Halo neuroscience helps to learn new athletic skills 40% faster

The ingredient is that it applies a very small amount of electricity to the motor cortex and that allows it to put the brain in a state of flow where it can actually learn new behavior faster. 

The neuro stimulators were positioned into a band that goes over the head, so when people put it on,  it aligns perfectly with the motor cortex and as such the brain is stimulated in a very gentle, but powerful way to improve performance.

Food in Space: Barbeque anyone? 

Food in space is quite limited – ready-to-eat food, freeze, dehydrated, rehydrated. 

But, when the Canadian Space Agency along with NASA and the Methuselah Foundation, put on a challenge to the world: how could you reimagine food for deep space travel?,  Nonfiction Design had some ideas. 

They  created a concept for a culinary kitchen, where they redesign food in space with low water usage to grow fresh greens. 

The first thing astronauts asked for when they get off the often the long term space travel is they asked for a salad. Algae would be highly nutritious if science can grow it in space, and they started creating an algae bio-reactor we created a prototype and we created algae balls. 

Anyone up to a barbeque in Space? Even if NASA does not like fire in space, there can be laser-grilled meat or even vegetables. 

Sleep in Space: Silk band that teaches your brain to sleep

Sleeping in space can be challenging, astronauts don’t have the comfort of gravity that pushes people in the comfortable bed, but they attach themselves to a sleeping bag, arms float around, there’s not much privacy. 

And as the International Space Station rotates around the Earth every 90 minutes, that means that there are 16 sunrises and sunsets a day, every day. This is why many astronauts experience a lot of sleep problems. 

Together with a company called Stem Science, a branch that came out of Berkeley University, they try to solve the problem. 

Neuroscientists and psychologists discovered a way to teach your brain how to fall asleep. There’s a very specific pattern of brain waves that appear just before sleep and specific patterns can be taught to your brain by using your gentle electrical stimulation on the forehead. It needs to be worn for only 15 minutes, and after that the brain knows what to do for the rest of the night. 

Visibility in Space with AR? 

One thing that is going to be important in deep space is visibility: how we are going to make sure that astronauts see and hurt themselves. As such Nonfiction helped develop a technology for that, that can be used also on Earth, specifically for firefighters workers. 

Together with Quake tech, a device was developed that fits inside of an oxygen mask of a first responder that has a camera built into it that does thermal mapping,  edge detection and it displays all this information on a AR screen that the firefighter looks through. 

Moreover, the information is sent back to the team waiting at the side of the firetruck, and there can be a view that they’ve got a whole view of what the building might look like, and then disseminate to other first-responders.

Human headphones: Technology as an extension of the human body?

The idea came after noticing the astronauts helmet and telecommunication devices, which look like they were not updated for 40-50. 

Astronaut Anne McClain wears a leather cap for astronauts with telecommunication devices.  And then the question came: What if we redefine the future of how we design things that touch the body, wearables, communication systems? 

What if all of these products were a natural extension of the human body? As such, the team came up with a much better device: human headphones without a band. They have a new way of attaching them to the ear and the whole interaction with the sound system is very natural – turning up the volume, you just slide your finger on the surface outside using capacitive touch technology. If you want the next song you just go forward. In addition, it translates into 11 languages. 

The geometry that fits each person was difficult to be done, the team worked on about 700 prototypes. Moreover, different disciplines had to be aligned such as: mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, acoustic engineers, etc in order to create this superior product that has never been seen before. But, now, even with the astronaut helmet, people can have access to beautiful sound.

Nonfiction’s creative directors Phnam Bagley and Mardis Bagley are educators and practicing designers. They are on a mission to show the world the value of design as something that goes way beyond aesthetics.

Phnam and Mardis hosts , a video series that demystifies design and the future of everything named Future Future

”’The voice we use for the Future Future video series is spoken in layman’s terms, because we believe designers can’t build a better world by themselves. Transparent communication, open-mindedness, and a collaborative spirit are essential to advance our field and nourish our imagination.”

”We want to inspire young people, students and dreamers to join the design community with their ideas of a better future. We encourage both the development of crazy ideas and the discipline that comes with turning these ideas into reality. Design is an incredibly unique and fun career”.

All photos are copyrighted by SXSW 2023 and Nonfiction Design and may be used by the press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage

You may also like