Taiwan’s Got Talent – Series II

Next up on the Taiwan’s Got Talent Series, I interview talented Jing-Wen Jian of Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology, who along with fellow students Chong-Yue Chen and Nai-Wen Chang designed the U-Ride for their graduate project.

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Looking like something out of a sleek design magazine with claims to provide riders plenty of freedom in the way they move, the U-Ride is a revolutionary 2-in-1 electric bike and segway, designed to meet the increasing demand for efficient shared public transport in urban cities. Much like Taipei’s current YouBike system, but with a smart and minimalist design, the U-Ride has the potential to play a big role in reducing traffic congestion without compromising convenience, allowing commuters to travel more freely and at an affordable price. Its segway mode is aimed for travelling back and forth at an easy pace – making it attractive to the visitor in search of indulgent sightseeing.

Anything that helps people to slow down but still get around without fuss and is also environmentally-friendly deserves some ovation, so it is no wonder that the U-Ride project was awarded a Young Pin Design Award in the product design category this year at the Young Designers Exhibition (YODEX), as part of the local events for World Capital Taipei 2016!

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with Jing-Wen Jian – 22 Years Old

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What did you envision for the U-Ride?

The U-Ride is an electric vehicle that could be used in two modes: You can sit on it as you would with a scooter, or, by unlocking the handle you can use it like a segway. We designed this to allow people to move about more freely. The two Touring or Roaming modes take on the ‘Move Free. Move Relax.’ concept. In the Roaming mode you can slow yourself down as well, allowing you to relax. The U-Ride in this mode is no where near as fast as other segways, reaching only 10km an hour. Apart from allowing the rider to relax, it is also useful in multiple situations. You can ride alongside with your friends in a park, for example.

What issues of public transport does the U-Ride aim to address?

Addressing traffic is a major factor in coming up with the idea for the U-Ride. The U-Ride can be used as a form of shared public transportation but unlike popular forms of public transport, the U-Ride is more personal and portable, much like a scooter. Taiwan’s current environment however, is especially inundated with motorcycles. We believe that there’s no need to buy them to get around anymore. From the tourism point of view, visitors can rent one, allowing them to move between sights freely, and in a relaxing way.

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Is the U-Ride safe to be used in traffic?

I think we all have the experience of riding a segway or know how it works. Most of them don’t have handles. They’re fast, and can be dangerous. For most people, they’re like toys. We were thinking more from the perspective of transport for visitors – how would the U-Ride benefit them? The difference with our product design is that by including a handle, the feelings of safety is enhanced and it is easier to manoeuvre. And because we decreased the speed, it is rather slow, and therefore safer to ride.

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Why the likes of the U-Ride is so important to Social Design

Shared transport and facilities not only address major issues of limited space and traffic in growing urban areas, but also enhance the general wellbeing of a community, creating greater access for people to get around and enhancing community interaction and cohesion.

In increasingly populated cities like Taipei, the need to minimise waste, be environmentally-friendly, as well as to connect more people to facilities is vital for an efficient and sustainable system. It is also cost-effective to provide social and community infrastructure and integrated transport. The likes of a minimalist yet flexible vehicle that not only has multiple uses but can be publicly shared is a logical solution.

On the psychological perspective, it is also increasingly important to take it easy in a modern and bustling city. Tourists won’t be the only people who could enjoy a slow and relaxed change of pace. And I could imagine only benefits in which the U-Ride would bring to people who are physically incapacitated; who are unable to walk distances but will not remain limited by accessibility to complete the activities they wish to do. The U-Ride then addresses both recreational and commuting factors as well as environmental and social factors which makes it, what I deem to be, a genuinely smart design that deserves backing and further development.

I hope to see more designs that aim to address social and practical issues such as the U-Ride, and wish these bright graduates a promising future!

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Taiwan’s Got Talent – Series I

No. I’m not talking about the TV Show. What is even more enthralling and praiseworthy is the talent at this year’s Young Designer’s Exhibition recently held at Taipei’s World Trade Exhibition Centre.

YODEX. The world’s largest student-orientated design exhibition, is the only one of its kind. Graduates from universities across Taiwan and abroad crowd into one place in Taipei to show off their talent as well as compete for one of the most prestigious design awards given to emerging designers.

Held every year in May, the 4-day expo showcases some 4000 projects and attracts an audience of 95,000 strong. Anything and everything design-led is here under one roof. Product design, fashion, visual communication design, spatial design…It’s a buffet for the design-hungry. Not only that, it’s a stellar opportunity to get acquainted with some of the brightest young minds.

For the 9000 or so students who come from 64 universities and colleges around Taiwan, as well as the 13 design institutes across the globe, it is a platform to see the industry beyond graduation; an opportunity to stand out to potential employers and sponsors. Since 2015 year, the highlight for these fresh creatives is the Young Pin Design Award, which will be given to outstanding designs in each of the 7 categories determined by a panel  of judges, all of whom you can be assured hold impressive curricula vitae.

Winners or not, the level of ingenuity here practically pulsated through the Centre this year. I interviewed the fresh-faced designers who have worked on pieces of a particular interest of mine – social design. My next few posts will expand on some of my favourites and their stories.


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CHEER UP!

– with King-Hong (Anthony) Au Yeung – 30 years old

Nothing beats listening to the stories of young children to brighten your day. Based on the simple idea of marketing happy stories, just like your feel-good version of HONY, Cheer Up! serves as a reminder that happiness lies in the understated and often overlooked. Designed by Xin-Qi Lu, Hsueh-Chi Wang, Yung-Bing Wang, Bing-Cheng Wu, and King-Hong Au Yeung of Ming Chuan University, the project exhibits the stories of children from rural schools. Complete with bright, light-hearted posters, leaflets, a 3D book, and even an interactive happiness vending machine, Cheer Up! won a Young Pin Award in the visual communication design category.

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What was the motivation behind designing this project?

In today’s society more and more people are finding that there are many aspects in their lives that are becoming too convoluted and difficult. It can be hard for someone to feel happiness. We hope to encourage our audience to return to moments in their childhood that made them happy. To know that happiness is in fact a very simple thing. It’s also a reminder to them to always preserve that childlike mind. That by returning to thinking in a simplistic way, being happy is an easy thing to do.

Thinking more simplistically…in which way?

It can be as simple as drinking a glass of water on a hot day; eating till you’re full. Just like what these kids speak of.

What have you personally taken away from working on this project ? 

Having worked on this project I often ask myself, why is it that when we get older we complicate matters and lose sight of small accomplishments that makes happiness attainable. I now can go back to thinking more simply, just like when I was young: ‘I want to do something fun’, so I go out; ‘I want to eat well. I want to sleep’, so I do these things. We as adults make our lives more complicated than it really is. The project taught me to be more aware that it is the little things which makes us happy. I hope that our work can bring this same sentiment to our audiences.

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The wonderful idea behind the happiness vending machine is to exchange happy stories and to keep the cycle of happiness going. By adding your own story of happiness to the machine, you will then receive the booklets and pamphlets which detail the happy stories of school-children.

If you missed out on YODEX this year, don’t despair. Works from graduates that were on display at YODEX are also currently on exhibit at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. As part of the World Design Capital Taipei 2016, there are even more events coming up so check this events calendar to stay up to date!

Keep an eye out for Series II where I interview 22 year old Jian Jing-Wen from Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology on her collaborative project, the U-ride, a two-in-one electric bike and segway.