(screenshot from YouKu video)
this grouped of Chinese decided to take up a challenge: to convert a 9 meter square container into an intelligent home controllable by a mobile phone – in this case, its a Nokia N8. it took them three months to complete the project at a cost of RMB120,000 (approximately US$18,000). it was a great effort and showcased the potential of the Nokia N8.
though the whole project went on smoothly and everything seems to be in order, the reality still haunts us: what happen if your N8 or any other mobile that mastermind the intelligent home, conked out? wouldn’t that be a huge disaster? if this intelligent home were to become a reality, i am certain some form of fail-safe will be in place to prevent such failure. yes? no?
how many people can claim to have a Star Trek-style door in their home? while automatic glass sliding doors are common in malls, you don’t get to see a manually activated sliding in common household very often, not to mention one that’s air-actuated and comes complete with the ‘swoosh’ sound.
well, this was what electrical engineer, Marc DeVidts, did. he built an air-powered sliding door in his own home which opens with a press of a button and automatically closes after about 5 seconds (yes, we timed it!). we reckoned that would be ample time for a couple of people to enter. i guess if you have more people, then you’d be ready to go in batches or make a run for it. a sensor will be a nice touch to determine if there are people still getting in and out.
there’s a key (just under the open button) to hold the door close or open, an air vent to vent the air out after the door closes and a concealed control panel to disable the door and shut off the air supply. we were not that excited about the sliding door initially, until we heard the ‘swoosh’ sound when it opens. simply awesome. may we suggest some upgrades, such as silver colored door without any pattern or relief, and a matching door frame? perhaps, a trapezoid shape door?
it seems like Kinect has more potential than just for gaming, which i supposed Microsoft should be proud of. this particular quadcopter, dubbed the Pelican UAV, is rigged with the Kinect, which serves as its ‘eyes’ by sending visual data to a Linux box onboard. this flying machine is thus capable of flying autonomously following the predefined waypoints, maintaining its own altitude and avoiding obstacles along the way.
this Kinect-rigged quadcopter is part of the STARMAC project of UC Berkeley’s Hybrid Systems Laboratory which is a multi vehicle testbed used to demonstrate new concepts in multi-agent control on real-world platform. this is really awesome and besides, using Kinect on this flying machine sure beat the hell out of trying to look silly in front of your TV.
remember the movie AVATAR (Twentieth Century Fox, 2009)? those commercial alien-mineral diggers were viewing a holographic map of the Na’vi tribe’s dwelling area? well, this innovation from Zebra Imaging works something like of sort. the best part is, you have wear those ugly 3D glasses to see them in real 3D – with depth. not that those guys over at Pandora are wearing any though.
i don’t really think holographic imaging is suitable for TV (i can’t imagine the headache i will get with so many layers of activity going on at the same time) but more for mapping, just like what they did on the Pandora. perhaps an excellent idea for landscape planning, rescue mission planning, battle field planning et cetera. just don’t use it for illicit activities such as snatching other being’s resources. check out the videos below. it really look awesome.
we are accustomed to robotic arms assembling cars, but what you don’t see often or even at all, is a robotic arm that debone pork. this specialized robotic arm, known as the HAMDAS-R, has a sharp knife on its end, instead of a grapple or robotic fingers.
it is designed specifically for deboning of pork which is a task that, to date, only human can manage due to the variations in form of pork. the HAMDAS-R has the ability to determine the variations and debone swiftly and accurately. kinda cool, except that if this robots are employed, i am sure there will be placards touting workers amassing in the streets in protest.
just don’t add any more Artificial Intelligence than necessary to it, and please excludes any form of legs or wheels as well. we hate to see this thing chasing after us just because we made some silly comment about it.
a group of radio controlled model airplane enthusiasts in China hand-built this huge radio controlled model which took them half a year from design to its maiden test flight. the airplane was based on the retired China Air Force “Yi Er” (or Ilyushin) IL-18 Chairman Mao’s exclusive aircraft. this 3.8 meters radio controlled airplane has a wingspan of 4 meters and weighs in at 25 kg.
i say it is looking good and cannot help but to marvel at the work put into it. if you don’t know, the real IL-18 was a Soviet Union built passenger aircraft powdered by four Ivchenko AI-20M engines. introduced in 1959, it was thought to be the most elegant airliner ever built by the former Soviet Union.
check the video of this huge radio controlled airplane maiden test flight below.
i have a penchant for beautiful and sci-fi stuff. even i have not played the game Portal, i was totally captured by the Portal Gun replica by graphic designer and replica props hobbyist, Harrison Krix. i spend many hours admiring this work of art and wishing that i could be at the Child’s Play charity auction to have my bid on it. alas, it was just a dream which could not be realized.
the Portal Gun, if you’re not aware, is a gun which you use to port from Orange to Blue Portal and vice versa. well, porting is still not a reality yet and hence, the replica Portal Gun won’t allow you to be ported to anywhere but as a consolation, it can “fire” both Blue and Orange lights (portal’s existence is via your own imagination). this is as close as you can get to a Portal Gun.
it will be auction off in the coming Child’s Play Annual Charity Dinner Auction, to be held in Seattle on December 7th. if you’re looking at chance of getting this, i say – tough luck as the tickets for the fundraising dinner has already been sold out. now that’s not such a good news isn’t it?
check out more pics of this awesome replica below and a video of the Portal Gun replica in action.
Intel Labs Seattle has been toying with a series of techniques and Kinect-style depth cameras. among them is something called Object Aware Situated Interaction System or OASIS. what it does is combining depth cameras with micro-projectors to enable recognition, tracking of objects and gestures. two videos were showcased using this development and the LEGO playing scenario definitely catches my eye.
the system recognizes objects that are place on a table and introduce special effects relating to it via the micro-projectors. in this particular example, when a LEGO dragon is placed on the table, the system recognized it and relates fire throwing and breathing with the beast, and projects an animated image of fire spitting out from the dragon. put a LEGO house on the table, the system projects a road in front of the house, add the dragon facing the house, the system generates the same fire spitting animation and sets the house on fire. time to put out the fire before it burns the house down. rope in a LEGO fire engine, again, the system recognizes it and projects animated water onto the LEGO house, thus putting out the fire. clever.
the OASIS has thus, makes imagination a think of the past when playing with LEGO. however, i thought this system would be great for puppetry-like story telling for children where the system plays out the additional animated visuals to aid the story telling when toys are used. on a second thought, would this predetermine scenario hampers a child’s imagination? or maybe adding a mind-reading/control device which translates the child’s thought into animated sequences? scary thoughts but it should at least encourage imagination in a child.
admittedly, i was totally captivated by OASIS (the LEGO scenario, to be specific) and can’t stop thinking about its potential. if only if the projections are in holographic 3D….
check out the video below. trust me, you won’t want to miss this.
while automobiles of the yesteryear are making a come back with modern technologies, toys are not missing out the resurrection party either. now get ready for BigTrak Junior – a compact (almost) palm-size brother of the original BigTrak from the 80s. yes, there are more to 80s than just shoulder pads. when personal computer was just at its infancy (in the 80s), a toy with the ability to be programed was a big thing and i bet it still stands true today. take it as a budget alternative to LEGO Mindstorms.
the BigTrak Jr has inherited the programming ability of the senior BigTrak plus some functions from the 21st century thrown in for good measures. to operate, simply punched in the desired commands, hit ‘GO’ and witness the BigTrak executes the sequence autonomously. this six-wheeler space rover can travel forwards, backwards, turn left and right. you can even program it to fire its ‘photo’ cannon while its executing its tour of duty.
(image credit: FireBox)
there are a couple of 21st century technologies thrown in such as the memory save function which allows you to write and save the program for future use. there is also an unique ‘active’ accessory port allowing it to utilize a number of add-on accessories (coming soon in 2011) to carry out its mission. some of the planned accessories include webcam and foam rocket launcher. sounds like quite a load of fun. soon BigTrak can do more than just patrolling round the supplied ‘moon crater’ obstacles but ‘transform’ into either a reconnaissance vehicle or an mobile artillery unit.
i would love to see a BigTrak as Radio Control vehicle plus the webcam and foam rocket launching ability. how about a gyroscope built-in to enable firing on the move? nah… i am just kidding but it will be good to have, isn’t it?
GoBagger One Man Sandbag System | US$59.95 | www.gobagger.com (photo credit: gobagger.com)
sometime, the simplest things should also deserve some form of innovation. hence, even the simplest chores should deserve an update in the way it has always been done. this is what GoBagger aims to do: change the way how we bag our sands. traditionally, filling of sandbag requires at least two person – one person holds the empty sandbag, and the other shovels the sand into the bag. sounds simple enough but what if we could speed up the process by, say, five times?
GoBagger does exactly that and all it takes is one man to do the job that quickly. the concept is simple: a scoop-like device with a handle upfront, a mouth (entrance), a back handle and an exit. the user use one hand to hold the front handle, while the other hand holds the back handle with the sandbag tucked in place. with a scooping down action, the mouth of the device receives the sands and the upward swing action, throws the sands back through the exit and into the sandbag. simple and quick action.
depending the size of the sandbag, and the user’s scooping action, one scoop with the GoBagger could be enough to fill a single bag. well, why we didn’t think of that? constructed out of low-density polyethylene, the GoBagger weighs in at just 1.9 kg which makes it easy to transport around. on top of that, the nature of its design enables several of the GoBagger to be “stacked” together for easy storage and transportation.
according to GoBagger, the traditional way of sandbag-filling can produced 85-90 bags an hour, but with the GoBagger, the same two person can churn out 480 bags in an hour. this is THE model for efficiency. we simply love innovation.