Layer designs Ledger Stax hardware wallet for storing cryptocurrency

Design studio Layer has collaborated with tech brand Ledger and designer Tony Fadell to produce Ledger Stax, a screen-wrapped, credit card-sized device for storing cryptocurrency and NFTs.

Ledger Stax is a hardware wallet — a device that stores the digital keys needed to encrypt and decrypt crypto assets offline, where they’re considered to be most secure. Users can also view and send their cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) through the device.

Layer developed the product with French company Ledger, which has previously designed the Nano hardware wallets. The initial idea came from Fadell, who led iPod development at Apple and co-founded Nest Labs, now Google Nest.

Three small devices with greyscale e-ink screens standing on their ends
Ledger Stax is a hardware wallet with a wrap-around e-ink screen

Ledger Stax is built on the same architecture as the Nano series, but has a unique form that Layer says elevates the experience of interacting with cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Its distinctive feature is an e-ink screen that wraps around the front surface and spine of the device, allowing for intuitive touch interaction and, given the technology’s energy efficiency, a battery life of weeks or months.

Layer founder Benjamin Hubert considers the e-ink screen an “underused” technology that fits perfectly with the heavily text-based needs of Ledger Stax and allows it to have a different type of design language, free of the expectations set by phones.

Photos or NFTs can be displayed in greyscale on the lock screen, helping to personalise the device, which is around the same size as a credit card but a little thicker, with a six-millimetre-wide spine.

Three Ledger Stax devices at different angles, one showing a Bored Ape NFT in greyscale
The lock screen can display photos or NFTs in greyscale

The design also invites the stacking of multiple devices in the manner of physical currency or conventional ledgers. Adjacent devices will magnetically hold together, giving users the ability to organise their portfolios across separate devices while clearly identifying them from the labelling on the spine.

As well as allowing users to manage their crypto assets, Ledger Stax can be used to explore Web3 apps through the Ledger Live app, which also connects the device to a smartphone.

The device has an aluminium casing that Layer says gives it a reassuring weight in the hand and emphasises its secure nature. Its soft edges allow for easy grip.

In addition to the touchscreen, it has a single button providing the functionality to power the device on and off, and lock and unlock the screen.

Three Ledger Stax devices stacked upright like ledgers
Multiple devices hold together magnetically

Layer has been working on Ledger Stax for two years. Hubert believes that although the value of cryptocurrencies has plummeted in recent months, it has never been a better time to launch the product, as it provides people with an alternative to using centralised exchanges for storage.

“Crypto market ebb and flow aside, the need for people to understand how to and why they should take their assets into their own hands has grown in the wake of recent news,” Hubert told Dezeen. “A popular expression in the world of crypto is ‘not your keys, not your coins’, which refers to needing to own the private keys associated with your funds.”

“It has never been more appropriate with the struggles a number of centralised exchanges have been dealing with — most notably, the collapse of FTX — and the tragic fallout for the average person,” he continued.

“Ledger’s secure architecture will continue to lead the way in that regard, and Ledger Stax could not come at a better time.”

Close-up on spine of Ledger Stax device showing text reading "Tony's NFTs"
Electronic text on the spine can be used to label the devices

According to Hubert, its e-ink screen also makes Ledger Stax more sustainable than many other consumer devices as this technology draws less power and only when it refreshes, rather than constantly as O-LED screens tend to.

Sustainability is an area where cryptocurrency and NFTs have previously come under criticism, due to the amount of computer processing power that they require. However, Hubert says that more energy-efficient solutions are slowly being offered, pointing to Ethereum’s switch from using a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake model earlier this year as an example.

“As crypto continues to mature, there will likely be more of this – and there are already many other players in the space that offer sustainability as part of their ethos,” said Hubert.

Close-up on the back of the Ledger Stax device showing "L" branding
The device was created in collaboration with Ledger and Tony Fadell

The designer, who has what he describes as a “moderate investment” in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, says the project suited Layer’s interest in working with technologies that enable and complement cultural shifts.

“Like any market, Ethereum has its ups and downs but I think it has a promising future,” said Hubert. “It’s exciting to be part of an emerging financial market, and working with Ledger has only cemented my belief in the potential of crypto.”

Ledger Stax is Layer’s second crypto product following Trove, a system incorporating a watch-like wearable device. The studio regularly works in the tech space, and has also recently designed smart glasses for Viture and a meditation headset for Resonate.

Rebecca Weiss designs ultrasound-powered male contraceptive device

German design graduate Rebecca Weiss has won a James Dyson Award for a male contraceptive device called Coso, which uses ultrasound waves to temporarily halt sperm regeneration.

Weiss’s Coso device is designed to be a reversible contraceptive solution. To use it, a person would fill the device with water up to the indicated mark, turn it on so it heats to operating temperature, and sit for a few minutes with their testicles dipped into it.

Hand holding the Coso male contraceptive device
Coso is a male contraceptive device that applies ultrasound waves to the testicles

The ultrasound waves temporarily halt sperm regeneration, with contraceptive effectiveness beginning two weeks after the first application.

The effect is reversible, with fertility expected to return no later than six months after the last application.

Weiss began designing the male contraceptive device after being diagnosed with a cervical cancer precursor that meant she could no longer take the pill.

When she and her partner looked for alternative methods and found there were no male-centred options beyond the condom or a permanent vasectomy, she started exploring the topic as part of her master’s thesis in industrial design at the Technical University in Munich.

Coso contraceptive device rendered in shades of dark blue-grey, bright coral and white
The designer imagines making it in different colours

“The problem is not unique to me personally,” she said. “It affects many others as well. This is also evident in the current growing public discussion about the lack of contraceptive alternatives.”

Her design for Coso is based on research that found ultrasound contraception has been successful on animals, but has so far been untested on humans. She hopes her design promotes further testing.

Coso is a small bowl-like device, with a smooth coloured exterior that looks similar to premium domestic gadgets.

Appearance and ease-of-use were key to the design brief Weiss set herself, to encourage uptake where no invention has previously succeeded.

Diagram of the technical structure of Coso, showing a microcontroller, battery, ultrasound module and LED strip in the base
The top section is like a small bowl, while the base contains the ultrasound module

Attempts to make a male contraceptive pill were abandoned after they caused side effects, even though they were arguably no worse than those caused by the female contraceptive pill. Others failed due to a lack of user-friendliness, according to Weiss.

“Coso, in contrast, offers a user-friendly contraceptive approach that is easy to use without any kind of physical intervention, pain or previously known side effects,” said Weiss.

“New technologies only work if they are accepted by users and society.”

To address this problem, Weiss involved her target demographic closely in the design of the product, surveying 422 participants and conducting co-design workshops with 25 of them.

Workshop participants contributed their thoughts on the requirements for the device and were also asked to draw their own ideas for an ultrasound device.

Weiss evaluated the ideas together with experts from urology, andrology, sexual therapy and psychotherapy and then began making and testing cardboard prototypes.

Infographic showing the Coso design process, going from user sketches to three concepts, key-sketch, paper prototypes, ergonomic testing, expert evaluation and handling testing
Weiss’s design process focused on making Coso extremely user-friendly

The final design is a detailed CAD model, with defined colours and materials that have been evaluated with users.

Its features include auto-shutoff after treatment and an accompanying app to monitor progress.

The device has a battery, microcontroller, ultrasound module and LED strip in its base, with a status display and water level mark in the well providing a user interface.

The water level mark would need to be set by a doctor to suit the user’s specific testicle size.

The idea for ultrasound contraception comes from a 2012 study by the Parsemus Foundation, which tested on animals, so its application to humans is hypothetical at this point.

There would need to be financial support for clinical trials before the product can launch.

“Without valid data, the project cannot be realised,” said Weiss. “I am therefore looking for contacts with research institutions and industry partners who are willing to fund clinical trials.”

The James Dyson Awards recognise excellence in student design and engineering from around the world.

Having won the German heat, Coso will now be considered in the international stage of the award. The shortlist will be announced on 13 October.

Another of this year’s national award-winning designs was a knife-wound-healing device named REACT, designed by the UK’s Joseph Bentley.

An introduction to Jetpack Compose for quick Android UI designs

At Android Dev Summit 2019, Google announced that Jetpack Compose  would be making its way into the Canary release of Android Studio 4.0.

Jetpack Compose could change the way we design Android UIs.

Jetpack Compose is a new tool for designing Android app UIs, which could change the way that we handle layouts across devices. The aim is to speed up development, reduce the amount of code, and ultimately create more elegant and intuitive user interfaces. We’re down for all that!

Also read: Android Studio tutorial for beginners

But is Jetpack Compose really useful? Or is it just another confusing layer on top of countless workflows and methods that are already part of Android development? Let’s dig a little deeper into what it can do, and how to use it.

What is Jetpack Compose?

Jetpack Compose is a declarative reactive UI system. It does away with the need for XML layouts entirely, which is potentially a big get for new developers trying to wrap their heads around new Android projects.

Instead, developers will call Jetpack Compose functions to define elements, and the compiler will do the rest.

What that means, is that you’ll actually be using a series of functions (called composable functions) in order to programmatically describe the UI. To do this, you annotate functions with the @Composable tag. What that tag is actually doing is telling the compiler to create all the boilerplate code for you, which saves time while also keeping our code clean and readable.

The functions won’t be placed anywhere within the flow of your code however (which would have been nice). Instead, you will create a Compose Activity template. Here, you can start adding your elements.

Hello world and beyond with Jetpack Compose

If you want to give Jetpack Compose for Android a go right now, then you can grab it via the Canary build of Android Studio, here. Keep in mind that this is preview software, so it may change with time. Now either start a new Jetpack Compose project, or add Compose support to an existing one.

New Jetpack Compose Project

A cool feature of Compose is the ability to preview your app changes live. That means there’s no need to build your APK and install it on a device/emulator. Just add a second tag @Preview to any functions that take parameters, and you’ll see what you’ve built appear on the right.

When you create your new activity, it will show sample code that displays text to the screen. This looks like so:

setContent {
                Text(“Hello world!”)


In this example, the setContent block is setting up the layout of the activity and in there, we have a simple block of text.

The example then goes on to show how you use a composable function with the @Composable annotation. This looks like so:

fun Greeting(name: String) {
                Text (text = “Hello $name!”)


You can now call this function (only from within the scope of other composable functions) in order to change the name on the label.

Jetpack Compose Example

Getting pretty

This isn’t exactly a UI though – it’s just a piece of text.

If we want to take this further and turn it into something a little more attractive, then we’re going to need some additional functions. Fortunately, there are a good number to pick from.

One example is the Column() function, which will place separate elements in a column layout. As you might  expect, you can also use rows in order to start creating more elaborate layouts of buttons and text.

To add a button, you will do something like this:

Button (
                text = “Button1”,
                onClick = { //place the click listener here }
                style = ContainedButtonStyle()


The ContainedButtonStyle() will give you something resembling Material Design.

Graphics are added simply by using DrawImage(). A HeightSpacer will allow you to separate your elements with a little gap. And there are various tools for padding and aligning your various elements.

This is not intended to be a full tutorial by any means. For a more in-depth guide, check out Google’s own documentation. As you can see though, Compose makes it relatively simple to start putting together a basic UI and applying straightforward logic.

Closing thoughts

So that is Compose in a nutshell. What do we make of it?

JetPack Compose is designed to be backwards compatible and to work with your existing apps with minimal changes. That means it will work with existing views, and you can pick and choose elements to use from it.

This is great in theory, but unfortunately there’s still some work to be done if that’s going to be entirely true. For one, compose is Kotlin-only, which will be a pain for those not familiar with it (just one more reason to make the switch, if you haven’t already!). It also means that you won’t always be able to integrate it that quickly into your existing projects.

Learn C# for Android

It’s also worth noting that Compose does not create views, but rather draws directly onto a canvas using drawRec() for things like buttons. So it could get a little bit muddled!

And this is where things could get confusing for newcomers. Imagine that you are trying to learn Android for the first time by reverse engineering an app. Now you not only need to figure out what is Kotlin, XML, and the Android SDK, but you also need to understand where Compose fits into it all. With so many different tools and approaches, Android development can certainly risk becoming overly fragmented and daunting.

But with that said, I certainly see the appeal of being able to quickly whip up a UI to try out a bit of code I’ve written – and Compose definitely makes that a little quicker and easier. Devs who enjoy tinkering might find this an appealing proposition.

Android development risks becoming overly fragmented and daunting.

Let us know in the comments what you make of Jetpack Compose and whether you’d like to see a full tutorial in future. Likewise, be sure to shout out if you want a full tutorial. We’ll be sure to update you once this finds its way to stable.

Apple’s best designs by Jony Ive, according to the AppleInsider staff

On Thursday, Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive announced his intent to leave the company after nearly 30 years on the job, many of which were spent at the side of tech visionary Steve Jobs. In wake of that bombshell, AppleInsider takes a look back at our favorite Ive designs.

Mikey Cambell – iPhone X

iPhone X

iPhone X

In development for more than two years, iPhone X is perhaps the purest expression of Apple’s — and Ive’s — vision of how a smartphone should look and feel.

A glass and metal slab reminiscent of the black monolith in Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (albeit with gently sloping corners), X blurred the line between utility device and art object more than any iPhone that came before. A sleek rectangular chassis closely follows the form of its dormant OLED panel, which remains inky black thanks to the deletion of all screen-bound manual controls. Without close inspection of the mirrored Apple logo and “iPhone” lettering set under its glass back, X’s orientation can only be divined by its camera bump.

Nothing seems wasted on iPhone X. Inside, vital components are neatly laid out on a — dare I say beautiful — logic board, battery cells are custom-fit and the level of fit and finish is peerless. Outside, the screen stretches from corner to rounded corner with a relatively thin bezel and the steel chassis feels almost sumptuous in the hand. The TrueDepth notch is, of course, a niggle, but an acceptable trade off for Face ID.

2018 Apple Pencil

Ridiculous Lightning connector swapped for inductive charging. A flat edge for mating with iPad Pro that also serves as a nice ergonomic grip (and stop Pencil from rolling off the table). Tap gestures. Velvety low-slip matte finish. This is what the first Apple Pencil should have been.

Amber Neely – The current MacBook Air

I still remember the original MacBook Air commercial from the original launch event, where it slid out of a manila envelope with a button-and-string enclosure. As an owner of an incredibly thick PC laptop, I was immediately enamored. The concept of even an entry-level notebook being that thin was wild to me.

Fast-forward to today. The MacBook Air has so far eluded me, but I do appreciate the quality and thought behind the design. In fact, I probably appreciate it more these days. It’s the one Apple product that gets my head turning every single time I see one.

Apple's gold MacBook Air

Apple’s gold MacBook Air

Just look the current generation MacBook Air. It’s thin, it’s light, and aesthetically, it’s got a gorgeous design. The gentle taper from the front to the back gives it a luxe profile, an effect that is only increased when you realize that Apple had the foresight to start offering the Air in gold. I’ve owned computers with some decent looking cases, but I’ve definitely never owned something that looked as good as a gold MacBook Air.

Aesthetically, it’s hard to imagine how Apple could improve upon the Air. To this day, I still find myself swooning over every gold Air I see in the wild.

William Gallagher – The door on the Power Mac 9600 and iOS 7

Design is not about how something looks, it’s about how it does what it does —and how people can use it to do what they need. And that’s only rarely as visually striking as, for instance, a gorgeous iPhone. So my favorite Jony Ive design is what he did with door panels.

We know that the forthcoming Mac Pro features extremely easy access to its insides and we remember that the famous Mac Pro, the first cheese grater, had that panel that could open up very simply. What’s less known is that this was because of Ive.

He thought of it and he fought for it. Ive had to convince Apple hardware engineers that it was worth doing and that it could be cost-effective.

PowerMac 9600

PowerMac 9600

And he won. The 1997 Power Mac 9600 was the first Apple tower computer where you could easily open the side to add or remove components. The same basic design was used for the beige PowerMac G3 tower, and the design lineage carried through the Blue and White G3 and G4 towers was clear.

But, iOS 7 is just as great. When Scott Forstall was forced out of Apple and Jony Ive took over the running of software as well as hardware, the result was iOS 7.

Actually, the result was iOS 7 and then whatever the next version of Android was. The result was that smartphones changed overnight and you can see iOS 7’s flattened aesthetic in graphic design used across the world.

2013's iOS 7 looks familiar today, but so different to iOS 6 and earlier

2013’s iOS 7 looks familiar today, but so different to iOS 6 and earlier

What Ive did with software was what he always did with hardware. It’s easy to say that he made things simpler, but he also came at it from the focus of how people would use it.

The previous skeuomorphic approach was meant to help people grasp how to use, say, a calendar on their phone. Now we knew, now we were more familiar with the phone version than we were with actual calendars. Ive could step away from this hand-holding tutorial kind of interface, and make a tool that worked better for us all.

We’ve now had the Ive-inspired flat design of iOS for six years, which is as long as the original lasted. But there’s no sign of it changing again because there is no need for it to.

Malcolm Owen – Mac mini

As someone with a background in PC gaming and a habit of spending way too much time on PCPartpicker than should be deemed healthy, I have an interest in how a computer is assembled. This is particularly true for machines that are put together to take up as little space as possible, as aside from being a design headache to create and keep them usable, they also must be serviceable.

Given my disassembly of my own personal Mac mini earlier this year to replace the hard drive, I have to attest that the design of that pint-sized computing powerhouse is phenomenal. A rigid metal casing with so much crammed in there, including cooling, that somehow takes up less physical space than most non-Apple notebooks, is mind-boggling to begin with.

A partially disassembled 2014 Mac mini.

A partially disassembled 2014 Mac mini.

Then there’s the disassembly, which is surprisingly straightforward despite the seemingly daunting task of extracting so much stuff from inside that tiny frame, with so many genius design choices to make it relatively painless. Even the use of the power socket as a form of “lock” to hold the rest of the power supply in place is an inspired piece of design.

As much as it still amazes that Apple has put a powerful computer into a slimline and barely noticeable case barely bigger than a few DVD boxes, seeing what Apple did to fit everything in and the process of disassembly and reassembly is probably more breathtaking.

Andrew O’Hara – Leica camera and iPod mini

As a photographer and videographer, it isn’t much surprise that one of my favorite Ive designs isn’t Apple’s. It is the wonderful Leica Digital Rangefinder that was co-designed by Marc Newson, sold at the (RED) Auction back in 2013. The camera itself had a full-format CMOS sensor and shot through a Leica APO-Summicron -M 50mm f/2 lens.

Leica designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson

Leica designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson

Needless to say, the camera is primarily formed of Ive’s material-of-choice —anodized aluminum. It is covered in 21,000 circular perforations that make up the grip around the body and took more than 85 days to manufacture as well as over 550 prototypes. I love how minimalist and functional the camera is, how the design doesn’t get in the way of the camera itself. It stays true to Leica but adds a bit of Apple finesse.

If Apple were to release a camera, this could easily be it. The attention to detail is simply unmatched and makes this one of the most lustworthy of Ive’s designs that can’t even be purchased.

Following the camera is the iPod mini. I absolutely love this device and still have a working model sitting atop my desk, full of my favorite music. The green is bright and fun without being overly loud. The aluminum design still holds up all these years later. The screen is small but with the simple UI controlled by the magical clickwheel, it doesn’t feel like it.

iPod mini in green

iPod mini in green

Apple had a pile of accessories to go with the iPod mini, which is a time I very much miss. The quirky iPod Socks, the headphone remote, the simple plastic clip that made it easy to clip onto the side of a backpack, and eventually even the Hi-Fi. All were in my arsenal. I spent a lot of time using the Mini and even though the switch to flash storage caused the device to become usurped by the iPod nano, the Mini still holds a special place in my heart —and my desk.

Victor Marks – Newton MessagePad and the last of the iMac G3 models

The Newton MessagePad is one of Jony Ive’s best products, from a time when he had yet to meet Steve Jobs, and was questioning whether or not he even belonged at Apple.

The Newton MessagePad and stylus

The Newton MessagePad and stylus

Design takes depth, focus, and caring, Ive used to say. People are frustrated with their environment, and products that surround us should show that they’ve considered the user in their design. They should show caring on behalf of their makers.

With the MessagePad, the first version shipped without a cover for the display and a wide, flat stylus that felt like a carpenter’s pencil, and was uncomfortable to use.

To change the user’s relationship with the product, Ive made two notable changes: one, a cover for the screen, and the other, a metal and plastic weighted stylus, with the look and feel of a luxury pen. The cover created the feel of a stenographer’s notebook, instantly making the design of the object communicate how you interact with it. The stylus showed care for the user by making the thing they touch and interact with feel like a luxury item.

Newton wasn’t long for the world, and was discontinued when Steve Jobs returned to lead Apple, but the humble Newton would influence the Mac and iOS later, with Ink in early Mac OS X, and the obvious Apple Pencil comparisons. The Newton showed that everything is designed, and even the humblest objects should show the care and thoughtfulness behind them.

The iMac G3 Flower Power and iMac G3 Blue Dalmation

The iMac G3 Flower Power and iMac G3 Blue Dalmation

Feb. 22, 2001 marked the introduction of the Flower Power and Blue Dalmation iMac G3. Why did these machines exist for so short a period of time?

I suspect the reason was that the process for decorating the inside of the iMac proved that the process would work for the iPod that was going to be released months later, and allowed Apple to test on an existing product at production scale.

This model was short-lived, replaced by the Snow White, Graphite, and Indigo iMac G3, with only Snow surviving before being replaced by the iMac G4 LCD sunflower model.

Flower Power recalled the 1960s hippies, and Blue Dalmation dogs never existed. We’re pretty sure it wasn’t a popular color. We’re even pretty sure it wasn’t one of Ive’s favorites. But it shows that design isn’t always easy.

Motorola wasn’t supplying faster G3 CPUs, and Apple had begun to source them from IBM. iMac G4 was almost a year away. There was pressure to release a new model. It allowed Apple to learn how to make a machine where no two would be the same, and make them reliably. It was looked down on by the press then and now.

But, it definitely broke the bright fruit color pattern that everyone else from kitchen accessories to DIY tools were copying. It paved the way for the iPod, and was the most distinctive computer that showed the industry followed Apple, not the other way around.

Mike Wuerthele – Original iPad

This one took me some thought. There are a load of big-time Ive-led inventions, and picking a favorite took forever. For sheer impact in this house alone, the iPad takes the cake.

For myriad reasons, the vast majority of documents that I had to read and assess through the ’00s were provided on PDF. I purchased a heavy and thick Windows tablet with a stylus to do so more conveniently. It was heavier than any single book I had to read, but more compact than all of them combined.

When the iPad was announced in 2010, the game was changed. It wasn’t just changed for me, but it gave the internet back to most of the senior citizens across my family.

Furthermore, in 2015, my wife had a stroke. All of a sudden, she went from being on her MacBook Air all the time, to being completely unable to use the keyboard on the machine. The iPad became a crucial part of her recovery and relaxation.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here. The iPad is, finally, Apple’s computer for the rest of us. And, Apple’s design for it made the entire concept possible, usable, and beautiful.