Category Archives: Tech

Digital Artist Creates Elaborate Arrays of 3D-Printed Stones

Back in 2009, Italian designer Giuseppe Randazzo of Novastructura released a series of generative digital “sculptures” that depicted carefully organized pebbles and rocks on a flat plane. Titled Stone Fields, the works were inspired in part by similar land art pieces by English sculptor Richard Long. As the images spread around the web (pre-dating this publication entirely) many people were somewhat disheartened to learn the images were created with software instead of tweezers, a testament to Randazzo’s C++ programming skills used to create a custom application that rendered 3D files based on a number of parameters.

Fast forward to 2014, and technology has finally caught up with Randazzo’s original vision. The designer recently teamed up with Shapeways to create physical prototypes of the Stone Fields project. He shares about the process:

Starting from 2009 project “Stone Fields”, some 3dmodels were produced from the original meshes. The conversion was rather difficult, the initial models weren’t created with 3dprinting in mind. The handling of millions of triangles and the check for errors required a complex process. Each model is 25cm x 25cm wide and was produced by Shapeways in polyamide (white strong & flexible). Subsequently they were painted with airbrush. [...] The minute details of the original meshes were by far too tiny to be printed, however despite the small scale, these prototypes give an idea of the complexity of the gradients of artificial stones.

The next generation of album art

Brian Eno and Karl Hyde aren’t strangers to the marriage between music and stunning visuals. For their recent collaborative album Someday World, they took that union one step further by teaming up with creative studio Toby and Pete, as well as technology and interactive guru Lukasz Karluk.

By bringing Someday World to life through an augmented reality app called Eno • Hyde, the duo have stumbled into the newest generation of album art.

After downloading the app to their smartphone, the user points the camera at the label in the center of the record. Through the phone screen an interactive universe appears, creating visuals in harmony with the physical physical world captured through the camera. The shiny polygons and colours rotating around the vinyl record respond to the user’s touch.

Someday World features appearances from members of Coldplay and Roxy Music. Check out the album on iTunes.

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Vibrating handlebars navigate bike lanes on its 3D printed frame

Just like when you’re driving a car, glancing down at your phone while biking the busy streets of your city can be quite dangerous. Thanks to a Portland-based design firm, there’s a bike that allows you to keep your eyes on the road while getting those much-needed directions. The folks at Industry teamed up with local builders Ti Cycles for Solid: a Bluetooth-enabled two-wheeler that connects to a smartphone app monitoring bike maintenance and offers vibrating handlebars for head’s up GPS navigation. A companion app, My Bike, keeps an eye on burned out lights and other potential upkeep headaches. My City, a second bit of software, serves as guide for blazing the bike lanes of your chosen locale.

In order to keep your eyes on the road, haptic grips will buzz when you’re approaching a turn and they’ll both vibrate when you’ve missed one. All of Solid’s on-board electronics are pedal powered with its components tucked inside a 3D-printed titanium frame that unscrews for easy access. Oh yeah, the gears are sorted electronically as well — at the push of a button — and those safety lights turn off thanks to built-in sensors. The silver-clad unit is the group’s entry into The Bike Design Project that’s matched designers in five cities against each other for a public vote on who’s made the best foot-powered option.

Meet JIBO, the world’s first family robot

Cynthia Breazeal, an MIT professor and one of the pioneers of social robotics, has unveiled “the world’s first family robot.” Called Jibo, the all-white desktop-sitting robot has more than a passing resemblance to a certain robot from a recent animated Pixar movie. The robot, which will cost around $500 when it’s released, will have a range of abilities that will hopefully make it the perfect companion to have around the house — such as telling stories to kids, automatically taking photos when you pose, easy messaging and video calling, providing reminders for calendar entries, and companionship through emotional interaction.

Jibo is about 11 inches (28cm) tall, with a 6-inch base. He (yes, it’s a he) weighs around six pounds (2.7kg) and is mostly made of aluminium and white plastic. Jibo’s face mainly consists of a 5.7-inch 1980×1080 touchscreen, but there’s a couple of stereo cameras, stereo speakers, and stereo microphones hidden away in there too. Jibo’s body is separated into three regions, all of which can be motor-driven through 360 degrees — and it’s all fully touch sensitive, too, so you can interact by patting him on the head, poking his belly, etc.

Novartis-Google team on lens for diabetes, farsightedness

Google is teaming up with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to develop a “smart” contact lens intended to replace reading glasses for people who are farsighted and glucose monitors for those with diabetes.

For the farsighted, the device would work like the autofocus of a camera, allowing them to focus on close-up things like the words in a book. It will be designed to work as a contact lens that is changed out regularly, or as an intra-ocular lens, permanently inserted into the eye during cataract surgery.

For diabetics, the lenses would replace regular finger sticks designed to read out a person’s blood glucose level. Instead, the lens will “read” glucose levels in tears, sending information wirelessly to a handheld device that will warn patients when they need to eat or lower their glucose levels.

“These are issues that have been unmet medical needs for quite some time,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez.

Novartis’ eye-care division Alcon, based in Texas, will lead the development work, along with Google X, an innovation lab at the information company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

Jimenez, who said he reached out to Google[x] to broker the deal, hopes the contact will be the first of many technologies the two develop together.

“It was very clear that there could be a very nice synergistic value between bringing high tech together with biology to solve some of the biggest health care issues that we’re facing,” Jimenez said.

The work is still preliminary, he said, with first testing in people expected to begin next year. It will be a few years at least before the lens can be considered for regulatory approval and reach customers.

He said a price had not been decided for the lenses, and would not disclose how much the two companies will be investing in the project other than to say that it will be “commensurate with the business opportunity.”

More than 1.7 billion people worldwide have presbyopia, the medical term for farsightedness, and more than 380 million have diabetes, he said.

MakerBot 3D printers now available in Home Depot stores

The Home Depot’s core business revolves around helping you craft things, so it stands to reason that you’d eventually find 3D printers there, doesn’t it? Sure enough, that’s what’s happening today. You can now buy MakerBot’s Replicator line at both the retailer’s online store as well as a dozen brick-and-mortar locations spread across California, the greater Chicago area and New York City. In addition to hosting elaborate kiosks like the one you see here, shops will have staff on hand to both demonstrate 3D printing and give you keepsakes in hopes of clinching a sale down the road. It’s tough to know if the Home Depot’s gamble will pay off — at last check, most people don’t expect to find printers sitting alongside doorknobs and drill sets. If nothing else, it shows that the technology has a market outside of office supply stores and other places you might associate with run-of-the-mill 2D printing.

Sharp’s ‘Free-Form Displays’ with Ultra-Thin Bezels Make New Display Shapes Possible

Sharp today announced its upcoming “Free-Form Display” technology that will allow the company to nearly eliminate the traditional bezel that surrounds LCD displays. As a result, Sharp will be able to build LCD panels in nearly any shape to conform to the display area of the intended product. 

 

Conventional displays are rectangular because they require a minimal width for the bezel in order to accommodate the drive circuit, called the gate driver, around the perimeter of the screen’s display area. With the Free-Form Display, the gate driver’s function is dispersed throughout the pixels on the display area. This allows the bezel to be shrunk considerably, and it gives the freedom to design the LCD to match whatever shape the display area of the screen needs to be.

As an example, Sharp demonstrates a prototype display for a vehicle dashboard, with the display conforming to the shape of the main instrument panel, but the company also address the possibility of using the technology for “wearable devices with elliptical displays”. 

The concept of non-rectangular LCD displays naturally ties in to Apple’s rumored iWatch, which at least one analyst believes will include a round display, although most recent rumors have suggested the device will use an OLED display. Still, advancements in LCD technology that would allow for non-traditional display shapes open the door to many different possibilities for future devices, particularly as wearables appear set to become an increasingly significant focus for mobile device companies. 

Reducing bezel thickness on traditionally shaped devices such as the iPhone and iPad has also been a goal for Apple, seeking to maximize display size relative to the overall device size. Sharp’s technology could serve to push this effort even further, and issues with devices registering unintended touches from simply holding the device should be minimized as Apple has already developed software solutions for recognizing those touches as part of the development of the iPad mini and iPad Air. 

Sharp has not announced when its Free-Form Display technology will be ready for use, noting only that will enter mass production “at the earliest possible date.”

Award-Winning GIFs by Micaël Reynaud

We’ve been looking at these a lot – like on and off all day. Take a look at these crazy cool gifs below…and you’ll see why we were hooked. There’s also some pretty cool info out there about creating stuff like this. Enjoy!

Freelance designer and stop-motion animator Micaël Reynaud (previously) creates animated GIFs unlike any we’ve seen. His process involves the use of video techniques like slit-scanning, time-lapse, and various forms of masking to create what he refers to as “hypnotic very short films.” Indeed many of these animations are pulled from fully realized videos which you can watch over on his Vimeo channel. Reynaud’s work has not gone unnoticed in the art world, the pigeon GIF above was a finalist in the first Saatchi Gallery Motion Photographycompetition, and he recently won the 2014 Giphoscope International Art GIF contest. You can scroll through dozens of his creations over on Google+.