Thursday, January 13, 2011

The BulletTrain Brand Inspiration...

The BulletTrain Brand Inspiration

Many people have been asking me lately how and why I came up with the name "BulletTrain" brand name?

When I was a small child, I used to play with old metal model train sets from the 1950s. As I grew older and became aware of the original Japanese bullet trains, I was in awe of their technological innovation and prowess. In particular, I was fascinated with how a bullet train differs from a standard locomotive.

Essentially a locomotive uses coal-burning for fuel and has metal wheels that run over two metal tracks that the wheels ride upon, and when you have metal constantly grinding against metal, you develop a great deal of friction which negatively impacts the speed at which a train can travel.

Shinkansen Zero from 1954 pictured on far left is the inspiration for the BulletTrain logo

Conversely, a bullet trains run on electricity and are much lighter in weight so they actually float more above the track so there is far less friction, which allows bullet trains, also known as high-speed railway lines, to travel up to 300 MPH!!!

The very first bullet train ever made was designed and manufactured in Japan in 1954 and it was named the "Shinkansen Zero." Shinkansen translated into English from Japanese literally means "New Trunk Line."

The name "Bullet Train" was translated from the Japanese term "Danagan Ressha," which was a nickname for the original concept that was originally contemplated in the art-deco era in the late 1920s though the 1930s. The name "BulletTrain" was adopted since the original Shinkansen Zero looked like a bullet traveling at high speed.

The most modern for of BulletTrains are named "Maglev" trains which is a conjunction of "Magnetic" and "Levitation." Maglev transport trains are super-cool since they literally float above the track using magnets (electromagnetic suspension systems) to levitate the train above the track so there is zero friction. This is how I came up with the BulletTrain slogan of "Friction-Free Computing" back in 2000.

Maglev Bullet Trains use a regenerative energy process which was the inspiration for created "Hybrid" automobiles. In other words, Maglev Bullet Trains take energy required to propel the train and regains the energy while the train slows down. This process is know as "regenerative braking."

Disneyland Monorail

As I mentioned, when I was a small child, I was fascinated with trains and I remember the first time I visited Disneyland's World Of Tomorrow and rode on the Disneyland Monorail, which also blew my mind. It is amazing how powerful Walt Disney's vision of the future was!!!

BulletTrain Design Language

So just how inspired are my BulletTrain designs, by actual bullet trains? Tremendously!!! When I designed and made the first prototypes of the Aluminum BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform for the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, I set out to make it look like like an actual Maglev BulletTrain which appears to be floating above the tracks.

When you look at a BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform sitting by itself on a desktop, it literally looks like it is hovering above the table, almost like a UFO, as you see in the photos below of one of my original prototypes.

This prototype had brushed aluminum, but the final product has an anodized finish designed so make the all three parts that make up the BulletTrain Express look like they are one single piece. I literally began designing the BulletTrain Express the day the Apple Magic Trackpad went on sale, and I had my first functioning prototype 4 days later.

Not one day has gone by since then where I have not looked at the BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform in awe of its beauty, but if you own one, you know it is not just another pretty face, and that it works even better than it looks, which is hard to imagine, but true, nonetheless.

Of course, when I designed the BulletTrain for MagicStand for iPad I had the same objective–to not only give the iPad a leg to stand on, but to also make it look like the iPad is just hovering on the table or surface it is standing on.

In the photo below of the iPad which has a BulletTrain Express attached to it, notice it not only looks like it is hovering in the air, but also notice the iPad is literally floating an inch out in front of the edge of the desk. Once again, inspired by a Bullet Train floating above its track.

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