Archive for the 'Technology' Category

AxiDraw V3

AxiDraw V3: I want one.

I’m not quite sure what I’d use it for, but I want one.  Even just to watch it create seamlessly shaded letters and shapes over and over again would be incredibly satisfying.

It’s probably getting a bit late to add to my Christmas list, but here’s to perhaps treating myself in the new year…

Full product details of the pen plotter (or “drawing machine”) and its capability on Evil Mad Scientist, and be sure to check out their other Art Robots here.

The Big Life Fix

I sketch, scribble, and make written notes almost every day.  Whether it’s as part of my job as a lighting designer or a subconscious doodle waiting for a train, doing something with a pen in my hand is something that I take for granted.  And most of us do too I’m sure.

Emma is a graphic designer with Parkinson’s disease which causes uncontrollable tremors, meaning that she can’t write or draw.

Designer and Technologist Haiyan Zhang and the team at Microsoft Research set about trying to solve this problem and the result is just incredible.

Emma’s story is just one of many that is addressed in the first episode of The Big Life Fix on BBC Two.  Watch it here.

Rubik’s Cube Machine World Record

Infineon Technologies have updated their Rubik’s Cube-solving machine and taken a quarter of a second off their previous time to set a new world record!

I know a quarter of a second doesn’t sound like much, but given that the previous best time was 0.887s, the new time of 0.637s is a 28% improvement.  Wow!

It’s not until the video slows it down to x12 slow motion that you can even begin to see just what the machine is doing.

The machine, known as Sub1 Reloaded, contains an ultra-powerful AURIX micro controller which Infineon, no doubt amongst other things, are looking to use in their efforts of self-driving cars.  When you apply that time saving to the complex decision making scenarios that autonomous vehicles are in, a quarter of a second is invaluable.

Meanwhile the human record for solving a Rubik’s Cube stands at a substantially higher, but still impressive, 4.74 seconds!

Bioluminescent Forest

I’ve seen projection mapping on lots of physical objects and defined surfaces before, but this is the first instance I’ve seen it interacting with nature and the result is really rather beautiful.

moss_dots

Photographer Tarek Mawad and animator Friedrich van Schoor spent six weeks on location to create the Bioluminescent Forest.  Immersed in nature it gives a glimpse into their imaginations if all elements of the forest had the ability to emit bioluminescent light.

As ever, worth hitting full screen on this one.

The drops of liquid light falling on the toadstools at around 2:15 is one of my favourite effects.

The final video is magical and ethereal mix, a “wonderland of blinking and twinkling organisms” that bring life to the more static areas of the forest.

Burning_Leaves

It must have taken high levels of patience to deal with the accuracy required, but the result is impressively worthwhile.

Ufo_Mushroom

They personified the forest to accentuate the natural beauty by creating luring luminescent plants and glowing magical mushrooms that speaks volumes to any visitor that enters the minds of the artists through viewing “bioluminescent forest”

Round_Mushrooms

Using pretty much just a laptop, a projector and a digital SLR camera “everything you see was created live, without any effects added in post-production”.

Toad

Behind the scenes footage can be seen here.

Futurama In 3D

Happy new year!

One week into the new year and so I’m probably overdue for my first post.  We leave 2014 behind and welcome 2015 with open arms, not least because it promises to blur the already slightly fuzzy line between science fiction and reality even further.  We are living in an age of incredible technology and innovation, with glimpses of much more on the horizon.  But beyond this year, what lies in the distant future, in, say, the year 3000?

Those familiar with Futurama (can you believe it has been going for nearly 15 years!) will know that the year 3000 plays host to New New York and Alexy Zakharov has taken the 2D cartoon landscape that we know so well and spectacularly transformed it into 3D.

Incredible detail has been put into the entire cityscape, not to mention the complex design of the Planet Express ship.  Very impressive to say the least!

Using 3ds max, Nuke, Photoshop, and After Effects (plus I’m sure a few other clever bits), Alexy has brought the future a step closer by showing us what we can optimistically expect in 985 years or so.

And why not, after all Back to the Future correctly predicted the likes of self-tying Powerlaces and hoverboards, didn’t it!

marty_mcfly

hoverboard

2015 could be quite the year!

Miito

We all need to start making a conscious effort to save energy and on the whole looking after our planet.  I try not to waste energy, but I know I could probably do better.

As an example, kettles consume as much energy to boil a litre of water as it takes to run your fridge for about 7 hours.  Us Brits are notorious tea and coffee drinkers, using a kettle on average over four times a day.  Given this vast energy consumption it would make sense to be as efficient as possible, wouldn’t it?

So, why don’t we measure the water out and only boil the amount we need each time.  Makes sense, but easier said than done.

Typically you  base the amount of water on those markings along the side for how many “cups” you are making.  However, most people don’t drink a “cup”, they have a mug.  Or in our office they tend to use jumbo mugs.

Our kettle at work goes a step further and has a RGB LED indicator that stays red if the water is still hot enough so people aren’t unnecessarily (re)boiling already hot water each time, but, despite best efforts, you still always overfill it.  This results in you waiting longer for it to boil and it uses more energy.  Bad for you, bad for the environment.

Wouldn’t it be handy (and better for the environment) if you could boil the exact amount of water you needed.  Not almost the right amount, not close to the right amount, but exactly the right amount every time.

Introducing Miito.

Miito is the product of designer duo Nils Chudy and Jasmina Grase, and, simply put, is a rod and a base.  The induction base heats the rod, which then heats the liquid surrounding it.  Perfect.

Miito1

Once the liquid has boiled, the rod signals the base to go on standby. When the rod is fully placed on the base without being immersed in anything, the device shuts off.

Miito2

It can heat a pot of tea for when you have guests, warm the milk for your coffee, or heat your soup to less scalding temperature than your microwave manages.

Lovely stuff.  More information on the website here.

Sparked

Lately it seems that drones are encroaching on everyday life more and more.  From security and warfare, to sight-seeing, Amazon deliveries, and, of course, good ol’ fashioned fun.

The word “drone” often seems to have a somewhat negative connotation to it, though this video definitely proves otherwise.  It falls into the latter category I mentioned, albeit with a touch more finesse and coordination than your average RC helicopter user crashing into trees at the park.

any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

Sparked was performed live with perfectly synchronised human and drone quadcopter interactions to conjure up the magic of lampshades flying into life around an electrician who is working late into the night.

No CGI.  No post-production.  100% live and awesome.

The production was a collaboration between the incredibly famous Cirque du Soleil (if you ever get the chance to go to a show then you must), ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios.

For more information on the technology they used, and how they came to use lighting integrated into lamp shades see the video below.

Great work all round.


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