Photography meets philanthropy with In Common Images, a photobank with a purpose. Part of the broader Milestones Project, the Littleton, Colorado-based initiative allows photographers to "donate" images that businesses and organizations can license for their own non-commercial use. A portion of the licensing fee (currently $300 per photo) then goes to a nonprofit designated by the photographer. The concept of "uncommon photos for the common good" is catching on fast, with more than 70,000 images uploaded to the site so far.
Prepare to get lost in Found, a curated collection of photography from the National Geographic archives. The mesmerizing Tumblr was launched last year to celebrate the organization’s 125th anniversary and is still going strong with an inspirational mix of world culture and nostalgia. “Some of these photos have never been published before, others were in the magazine years ago but since then have rarely been seen by the public,” note the editors of Found. “Their beauty has been lost to the outside world.” Visit frequently and scroll slowly.
The mark-up on designer clothes is no secret: try eight times what they cost to make. Everlane offers an alternative. The peppy, transparency-obsessed e-tailer aims to challenge the system with its own line of "designer-quality essentials" for men and women—think well-cut tees, sweaters, and a killer weekender bag—at half the typical price. A new collection launches online every month.
Just when you thought you had squeezed every last morsel of enhanced, shared, and tagged pleasure out of your digital photos comes Tunepics, a sharp-looking app (free to download from Apple's app store) that makes it possible to give each of your images its own soundtrack. The creators, on a mission to unite music and images, are playing up the emotional dimension with colorful mood charts (feeling blue or just Rhapsody in Blue?) and image filters, so you can match the music to the photo or vice-versa.
What began as Ethan Lipsitz's college hobby of tweaking his friends' hoodie sweatshirts is now a burgeoning fashion company with a DIY twist. Los Angeles-based Apliiq ("It rhymes with unique and freak," advise Lipsitz and his team) collects rare, deadstock and recognizable textiles and applies them to everyday garments (think crying-out-for-customization American Apparel tees). The website offers an ever-changing assortment of limited-edition products and a fabric library that makes for a dizzying array of possible color and texture combinations.
The 3D-printing revolution is coming for you. Succumb painlessly with MakerBot PrintShop, a new (and free) app that allows you to harness the mind-boggling power of one of the company's newest desktop 3D printers with little more than an iPad and a dream. Ideally, that dream would be of a sign, letter, nameplate, piece of jewelry, or other customizable object that is not bigger than a breadbox—unless you favor petite loaves. Notes MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis of the new app, "We have removed the obstacle of not knowing 3D design to be able to 3D print."
Alarm clocks don't have to be alarming. Start your day a calmer way, with simple, minimalist design (think lowercase, ultra-lightweight Helvetica Neue deployed in a gentle gray-and-orange color scheme) and unique sounds designed for a gentle awakening. "The first thing you feel should be calm," says Rob Bridgett, the serene creator of Calm Clock. The new app, designed for the iPhone and iPad, will rouse or alert you with your choice of seven ambient sounds such as "rain," "droplet" and "temple," and a clean white slate of an interface.
Oops. You forgot your business cards. Again. Break the cycle by upgrading to sturdy morsels of lovingly printed cardstock you'll be proud to hand to strangers. In other words, get thee to Moo. The web-based print shop has earned a strong following of perfectionist creative types, in part by tapping top designers for its Luxe Project initiative. The latest guest creator is Jessica Hische, who has drawn upon her Daily Drop Cap project to create an elegant stationery set that includes customizable business cards, notecards and letterheads. Need another reason to snap up the latest Luxe set (available for a limited time)? All of the proceeds go to cat-loving Hische's charity of choice: the ASPCA.
Toting around a thick field guide is for the birds. Identify flying creatures the modern way with Birdsnap, a new iPhone app that covers 500 common North American bird species. The free app was developed by researchers at Columbia University (the people that brought you Leafsnap!) and the University of Maryland using computer vision and machine learning techniques. Visual recognition technology can help to identify birds in photos you upload, and with a tap or two, you can automatically see visually similar species and learn how to distinguish them—or have the app generate a guide to local birds based on your location and the time of year.
A new online platform is bringing the functionality and ease of Pinterest or Tumblr to the world of art. Launched last month, Curiator is a digital, collaborative art collection: a place to keep track of your favorite art and discover an ever-expanding virtual collection of works. Founders Moenen Erbuer and Tobias Boonstoppel, veterans of AKQA and Google, respectively, created Curiator in part to gain a broader understanding of the artistic tastes of people they knew or admired in order to start their own art collections. "It’s about what you like, not about what we like," they say, "and definitely not just about what’s for sale."