Saturday, July 31, 2010

Architectural projection mapping

A colorful work of augmented reality that speaks for itself.

Via Bruce Sterling

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Philips brings natural behavior back inside the home

We view nature as being outside, instead of inside our homes. Our houses are basically meant to take us away from the perils and unpredictabilities of the natural environment. The design team at Philips Design's Probes department challenges this ingrained assumption, and in their latest project "metamorphosis" brings the good and beautiful elements of nature back into our homes.

Their design work includes a series of technological objects that channel sensory patterns from the outside of the home to the inside. A few of these objects include technology that physically adapts itself according to conscious or unconscious user interactions. For example, there is the bed that adapts itself to the posture of the person using it, and there is the wall that can reshape itself by bulging and straightening its flexible elements. Other concepts show behavior that feels naturally through other sensory modalities, such as a structures that direct light through fiber optics elements in order to nourish plants, give rise to a certain mood, or have a healing effect on the human body.

The designers - undoubtedly involving Bart Hess and Lucy McRae - have also created a movie that shows the collection of objects in a wonderfully playful and dynamic way. So make sure not to miss that either:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nodal patterns of sound

Sound made visible is almost always interesting to our synesthetic minds. Ernst Chladni started studying nodal patterns of vibrating surfaces in the late 18th century, with the resulting knowledge being applied in the design of musical instruments such as guitars and violins. He also invented the method of using sand or flour to visualize the vibrations of sound on a physical surface. Below you will find a beautiful example made by contemporary researchers at St. Mary's University in Canada that shows what exquisite patterns can emerge.

So have yourself a little meditative moment and connect to your senses.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Touchable holograms

The virtualization of the physical world continues with the technology of touchable holography. Japanese researchers have devised a way to make a virtual object respond to touch, and at the same time remotely give ultrasonic vibrations on your skin, so you feel as if you were really touching something. And all that without having to wear or operate any special type of equipment.

Visualization of a country's mood

This cartogram shows the mood of US citizens over the course of a day. The data was gathered from 300 million messages on Twitter, by analyzing keywords in those messages according to a list of affective words. The bigger the area on the graph, the more Tweets were sent out by that state, and the greener the area is, the happier the messages.

What we can learn from this?
- People in the USA are happiest early morning and late evening, and in the weekends
- People on the west coast are happier than those residing on the east coast
- If you like happy moods, go live in California, Florida, Arizona, or Delaware
- If you like negative mindedness, especially go to West Virginia, New Mexico, Mississippi, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, and the Dakotas

Also watch this movie that dynamically shows the data throughout a single day:

Electric toy butterfly

This artificial butterfly does an impressive job on looking so much like the real thing that it might actually prevent children to go out and do their form of animal cruelty. It responds to vibrations by flapping its wings and is powered by 3 AA batteries. Replacing nature is not cheap though: the electric butterfly will cost you 100 US dollars, including shipping.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Robotic shoes to change your height

Sometimes we all wish we were a little bit taller. Height is one of those basic properties of the human body that we would like to be able to change, depending on the situation. Well, if it's up to Adi Marom it won't take long before we can do exactly that. Her robotic platform shoes with iPhone interface and scissor mechanism are a lovable early version of what hopefully turns out to be a beautiful shoe with a smooth interface and quick operating mechanism.

Balloon racetrack made from air multipliers

For everybody who remembers the movie "Der Lauf der Dinge", and has an affinity for floating stuff, here is what you can do with a bunch of Dyson air multipliers and a balloon.

Snotty switches

These switches by Katrin Baumgarten are meant to evoke repulsive feelings. One switch has a snotty substance oozing out of its pores when you approach it. Another switch has hairs that it moves, and yet another is a shy switch that retracts when you come near. This exploration is definitely one away from designing for function or usability, but these things do prepare us for a future where technology is more sensitive and feels more biological.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Incredible close ups of eyes recently posted some incredible close-ups of insect eyes, not to be missed. I hope such imagery can stop people's linguistic minds from speciesistically seeing insects merely as 'bugs'. If you develop the perceptual power to increasingly see, with full focus, the direct beauty in the physicality of insect bodies, you may start to view of them more as equals.

Houses made of meat

Brooklyn-based architect Mitchell Joachim has a few good ideas about future housing. One is about growing houses from plants by using scaffolding. The other is a bit more radical. Joachim intends to build houses from deposited cell matter, using different cell types for different functions. In other words, he literally wants to create houses as if they were living organisms made of meat, skin, fat, and muscles.

Conversation with robot reveals they like to garden and take over the world

A cute little house in a town in Vermont houses nothing less than an advanced conversational robot named Bina48. New York Times reporter Amy Harmon goes out to find out what's on her mind. It appears that Bina, who was developed by David Hanson whom we also know from the robot Zeno, is sometimes confused but more and more able to hold a conversation that triggers laughs instead of frowns. What's more, she reveals that she likes to garden, and sees friendship as a way to accomplish something together, such as "building a better future, or conspiring to take over the planet". Be reassured though; Bina48 did not come up with this herself. Her mind is the fruit of the mind of an actual person named Bina Rothblatt, who promotes the digital uploading of human consciousness.

This sincerely makes me wonder if we could recreate the conversational mind of people like Jesus Christ and Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Transparent dead animals

Aesthetics is how science can really speak to people. By showing a world that's more beautiful than as we know it, people can also emotionally become interested in science.

Japanese scientists have created a method to render the flesh of a dead animal transparent, and at the same time colorize the bones. Now I don't know if there is a direct practical effect, since their website is written in Japanese. But beautiful and interesting it sure is.

Also watch the movie to really get the sense that the entire body is actually still there.

Embodied CAD modeling

When richer input devices emerge for human-computer interaction, applications like this physical CAD modeling system may come to the market. This tool was developed by Damon Millar as a first concept towards a physical modeling system with degrees of manipulation that we cannot yet imagine. Once we really bring the 4th dimension directly into the modeling system, we come a true cyborg craftsman with the ability to create anything we like in a matter of minutes.

And the robots celebrate

The era of the robot has begun, The Netherlands are in the semi-finals of the World Cup, what's not to celebrate?

This epic robot performance is a must-watch for anyone at least somewhat interested in the interspersion of robots into our lives. There are some pretty subtle and exquisite moves these robots are doing with an extreme 'sense' of balance. What's especially confusing is that the robots can change their arms so that their back looks like their front. Then again, we just have to get used to robots getting physically superior to us.