Luxo Jr, the adorable little lamp that appears in the Disney Pixar logo, illustrates how animators can breathe life into mundane inanimate objects. Now, robotics technology allows us to do the same thing in real life, as shown by a trio from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Using a combination of readily available robotics and automated manufacturing technology, mixed with open-source software, they were able to grace a desk lamp with a little personality.
Of all the ways to catastrophically break a Sega Rally Championship Arcade cabinet, Artica's hack at Portuguese hackathon Codebits earlier this month must surely go down as the most creative. With the addition of an Arduino board and an XBee RF module, the cabinet was made to race two camera-equipped radio-control trucks around the floor at Codebits VI.
Robofun, which bills itself as the largest open-source hardware store in Romania, has built a robotic bartender called The Social Drink Machine. It takes its inspiration from another recently created "botender," The Inebriator
, which the team at Robofun felt could be improved with a social media interface. They built their own robot from scratch in just 10 days and added Facebook and Twitter apps that let you order drinks from a mobile phone.
Moving around the stage while performing is a whole lot easier with instruments such as the Vortex
than with something like the mighty JUPITER-80
. Innovations like Onyx Ashanti's Beatjazz hands
or the Air Piano
from Omer Yosha go even further, by making movement a vital part of the music creation process. Such is the case with the Dodecaudion from Polish art and design group panGenerator. When a performer places a hand, foot, head or other part of the body in front of any of its 12 IR-sensor-packing faces, wirelessly-linked processing hardware generates pre-programmed audio or visuals.
If you're a fan of 1980s music, then there's a very good chance that you'll already be familiar with the electronic beats provided by what's widely regarded as the drum machine that started it all, Roland's TR-808
. It set the mood for Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing
, fired shots at David Byrne in the concert movie Stop Making Sense
and was the inspiration for the naming of the band 808 State. In his own homage to the iconic device, electronic music tinkerer Moritz Simon Geist has mechanically reproduced 11 of its key sounds using real instruments played by robots within the supersized, wall-filling frame of the stunning MR-808.
Every Halloween brings a new batch of creative takes on the traditional Jack-o-lantern, but very few of these actually try to give a pumpkin a technological enhancement. This year, one programmer decided to change that by hacking a pumpkin into a working version of Tetris by using a grid of LED lights and converting the stem into a functional joystick.
For all the Arduino microcomputer addicts who love tinkering around on really cool projects, here's something that will might help you bring those projects to the next level. It's the ArduinoLCD from EarthMake, and it offers an affordable way of integrating a touchscreen into your latest gizmo.
The popular open-source Arduino microcontroller has been implemented in countless projects worldwide, and this very success has led the hacker community to create several smaller and cheaper alternatives to the Arduino, such as the Digispark
. TinyDuino continues in this miniaturization trend but, crucially, does so while promising to retain all the flexibility of its illustrious forbear.
Spanish start-up Aisoy Robotics is marketing a new robot that, while it may look similar to the famous Furby, is actually a fully programmable research and development platform. The Aisoy1 II robot comes with a variety of sensors (touch, light, position, temperature, and camera), microphone and speaker, a 70 mini-LED matrix display (for animated lips) and includes a dialogue system for speech recognition and synthesis, as well as computer vision software for face and object recognition, all running on the Linux operating system.
British designer Dominic Wilcox has created a pair of prototype shoes which offer to guide the wearer home with built-in GPS navigation. The inspiration for the clever footwear derives from The Wizard of Oz
character Dorothy’s red shoes, which famously transported her home with a click of her heels. Naturally, the GPS system within Wilcox’s shoes is also activated by clicking the heels together.