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Kai Rump graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the School of Art and Design at the University of Wuppertal. He has been working as an industrial designer since 2019. In his work he focuses on fields that make use of high-end technologies, such as consumer electronics and high-tech telescopes. For his accomplishments, Rump was selected as one of five finalists for the “German Design Awards Newcomer 2020” title, which comes with prize money. We sat down with Rump to learn more about his project IO, an astrophotography system which is especially easy to operate.

Mr Rump, your astrophotography system IO brings together design and sophisticated technology. Could you give us a brief description of the project?

People are fascinated by astronomical events. The spectacular photos we see of such events in the media make us want to experience these things for ourselves. But using a telescope requires a level of familiarity with physics that most people don’t have.

IO is a system for observing and documenting extraterrestrial objects. It features fully-automated tracking and GoTo controls, allowing the user to immerse themselves entirely in the activity of observing objects directly through the eyepiece, without digital intervention, or of taking digital photographs. IO also supports interchangeable optical tubes, allowing the user to switch between a higher level of magnification and a larger field of view. The system has an altazimuth mount with an integrated wedge, which enables steady photography despite the Earth’s rotation.

And both the mount and the colour CMOS camera are controlled by an integrated app which also helps the user with digital post-processing, further enhancing the quality of the images through a process called stacking.

IO astrophotography system © Kai Rump

What fascinates you about the possibilities offered by new technologies? What role do you think they will play for design in the future?

New technologies often allow us to look at familiar ideas from entirely new perspectives. A good example of this are drones. Since drones are unmanned and are able to perform extremely precise movements in the air, they are suitable for a very wide range of applications. Recreational use is by far the most popular of these. Particularly in the area of recreational aviation, drones seem to have caused an explosion in interest. In terms of design, this is leading to the creation of entirely new product categories as the result of a new technological development.

New technologies often allow us to look at familiar ideas from entirely new perspectives

What makes the IO project special? How innovative and useful would you say it is?

The special thing about this project is that it makes astronomy and astrophotography more accessible in practice. Interest in this field is universal, but potential users are focused primarily on its visual aspects. Which is why IO is designed to function as an astrophotography system, and not merely as a telescope.

In particular, the use of different magnification systems in the form of interchangeable optical tubes (as with cameras) provides a wider range of potential extraterrestrial objects to observe and shoot. This enables the use of a single basic system for each type of observation and results in an overall product which provides more value all round.

Kai Rump was born on 4 April 1990 in Wuppertal. During his studies Kai Rump completed a semester abroad at the University of Cincinnati (DAAP) in Ohio and a subsequent internship at SONOS Inc. in California. In 2019 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal in the Faculty of Design and Art.

His focus is on consumer electronics, ranging from audio/video and UX to high-tech telescopes that can be operated by astronomical non-experts. Since 2019 Kai Rump has been working as an industrial designer at Studio F.A. Porsche in Zell am See, Austria.


German Design Award Newcomer Finalist 2020

Article picture: © Martin Diepold/Grand Visions

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