Archive for the ‘Cool Tech’ category

I Want One (Well, Not Really, But Still…)

January 9, 2014

Via Twitter buddy @AstroKatie, I find this:

Now, I’m not actually going to pony up five Benjamins for a rumba dancing robot spider, but the idea that it exists does make me smile.

All hail our robot arachnid overlords!

October 18, 2012

Good work by the LA Times  yields ~2:40 of pure pleasure

watch?v=XIRfTAq21ek

You’re welcome.

Somewhere, Doc Is Smiling

December 13, 2011

To the annals of the unbelievably cool, add this:  a camera that can image one trillion frames per second.  That’s fast enough to make a movie of light in motion.

Let me say that again:  this apparatus is sufficiently precise and capable of such extreme slow motion photography that it can make a moving images of light in transit:

My favorite part of the movie itself (as opposed to the ridiculously cool tech and the gorgeous underlying science) is the choice of target, amidst all that ferociously exact equipment.  Yup.  Coke does rule our world.

From the MIT press release linked above, here’s a basic explanation of what’s going on:

The system relies on a recent technology called a streak camera, deployed in a totally unexpected way. The aperture of the streak camera is a narrow slit. Particles of light — photons — enter the camera through the slit and pass through an electric field that deflects them in a direction perpendicular to the slit. Because the electric field is changing very rapidly, it deflects late-arriving photons more than it does early-arriving ones.

The image produced by the camera is thus two-dimensional, but only one of the dimensions — the one corresponding to the direction of the slit — is spatial. The other dimension, corresponding to the degree of deflection, is time. The image thus represents the time of arrival of photons passing through a one-dimensional slice of space…

…But it’s a serious drawback in a video camera. To produce their super-slow-mo videos, Velten, Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar and Moungi Bawendi, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry, must perform the same experiment — such as passing a light pulse through a bottle — over and over, continually repositioning the streak camera to gradually build up a two-dimensional image. Synchronizing the camera and the laser that generates the pulse, so that the timing of every exposure is the same, requires a battery of sophisticated optical equipment and exquisite mechanical control. It takes only a nanosecond — a billionth of a second — for light to scatter through a bottle, but it takes about an hour to collect all the data necessary for the final video. For that reason, Raskar calls the new system “the world’s slowest fastest camera.”

Bonus  trillion fps eye-candy videos here.

And yup, somewhere, Doc Edgerton is one happy camper.

 

 

Department of Cool: Housing Division

September 15, 2011

Not to go all MIT on y’all, but this piece from the news office hit my desktop today.

The gist:  a design studio taught within the MIT Department of Architecture in 2009 posed the challenge of coming up with a house design that could be built for $1,000, with the idea that such housing could be used in the wake of natural disasters like the then fresh-in-memory Sichuan earthquake of 2008.

Masters student Ying chee Chui came up with a 500 square foot dwelling that has now been built in a town in Sichuan for $5,925.  Dubbed a “Pinwheel House,”…

It has a modular layout, with rectangular room units surrounding a central courtyard space. “The module can be duplicated and rotated, and then it becomes a house,” Chui says. “The construction is easy enough, because if you know how to build a single module, you can build the whole house.”

Part of the boost in cost from the design target came from enlarging the original plan to 800 sq. ft., and part reflects prototyping costs — but the point is being made:  there are alternative approaches to both design and construction methodology that can produce good housing for a much larger swath of the world’s people than now possess it.

Two postscripts:  first:  this year’s version of the same studio course is looking at $10K houses for Japan in the wake of the earthquake-tsunami disaster.

Second:  the linked article is sadly lacking in the heart of the cool — the tech within and the details of the layout and production methods for the Sichuan prototype as it now exists.  I’ll try to track those down and post later.

Image:  Meister der Weltenchronik, Construction of the Tower of Babel, c. 1380

Friday Eye Candy/Cool Toys

October 15, 2010

This, from Polish time lapse cinematographer Patryk Kizny:

http://player.vimeo.com/video/15368982

The mini dolly/crane being shown off here isn’t cheap as far as anyone’s personal pocket goes — about $2,000 for the longest track — but, boy does Kizny make the case that it is cheap in film-terms for the production values it produces.

Below the jump, find the link to another of Kizny’s works
(more…)

Eye/Brain Candy: Light Painting/Stop Motion animation with an iPad as the light source.

September 14, 2010

Really beautiful stuff. The first 1:38 of the video at the link give you a quick how-it-was-done account, and then the really lovely video unfolds.

I got this through a retweet of @GreatDismal’s twitter stream — and as Mr. Dismal resolves to William Gibson in meatspace, I suppose my reaction — that Hubertus Bigend is smiling somewhere — makes a kind of sense.

Making Future Magic: iPad light painting from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

My Favorite iPad Hater Nonsense so far

April 7, 2010

From commenter zyodei at Cory Doctorow’s blog at BoingBoing (h/t @jasonpontin’s twitter feed):

Of course, I will still never buy one, because as has been pointed out by its design I still see it as something that is designed primarily for consuming information, not creating it. And who needs that?

Uhhh…those of us who create not “information,” but works of communication, craft, art, whatever.

I mean, I don’t know about anyone else, but I hope that folks actually, you know, read what I write, not to mention see or hear the other works I create.  Consuming that stuff, again, not information but composed, intended works, is something for which the iPad, among other devices, is just a dandy platform.  More of this please.

Not to mention that there are lots of hours in the day when I — I, and not a seraph, not an avenging messenger of the Tech Lords — find myself consuming other folks’ good work, and don’t need or necessarily want to haul my lapbeast.

I’m not saying that there is any affirmative necessity that should send all tech-happy folks into Father Jobs’ arms.  There are lots of reasons not to buy another thing.  I haven’t got mine yet, and didn’t get swept up on a wave of gadget-lust when I briefly toyed with one in an Apple store yesterday.  And choosing to save one’s pennies because it doesn’t perform the functions you require, as it appears it doesn’t for zyodei,, is sane, perfectly reasonable.

It’s just the “who needs that” tag that harshed my mellow.  No writer that I’ve ever known lays down words for a game of solitaire. Even as we — or at least I — write, the words seem to me to be leaning toward a reader.  Who needs “consumers” — an ugly, misleading name?  I do; every last line I write does.

Image:  Antoine Wiertz, “The Reader of Novels,” 1853

iPad Whiff

April 3, 2010

So — even with gadget lust surging through my geekocampus, still, at the last minute, I cancelled my reservation for an iPad.  Decided to wait for 3G, based on my experience using my iPhone as guide to travelling around rural Ohio the week before last.  That GPS functionality that comes with cellular as well as WiFi connectivity was persuasive.

So:  dumb or not?

Image:  Jules Cheret, “Eulogy of Lust,” 1896-1900

New Frontiers in Computer Security

April 1, 2010

A British company takes a genuinely innovative view of network protection, combined with an ingenious use of crowd sourcing.

(h/t Andrew Whitacre, communications maven of the MIT C4CM project).

Words Matter: High Tech, “Feminine Products” division

January 27, 2010

Most of the way through the Greatest Apple Announcement Ever and the#ipad twitter series is deeply fixated on the awesomeness of the fail in giving the new device a name that is such a short leap from a product that has little to do with computing, and a great deal to do, as one of the Twitterers noted, with the desperate shortage of possessors of double x chromosomes in the tech biz.

Just saying….

Image:  Margaret Carpenter, “Ada Augusta Byron King (Ada Lovelace),” 1836


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,455 other followers