Electrical engineer Gary Krysztopik has been driving his self-built, open-framed, three-wheeled electric "hotrod" on the roads and highways of San Antonio (TX) for over three years now, but folks still can't help staring as he zooms past. While also working on gas-to-electric conversions (including a VW Bug and a Porsche Carrera), he's been busy refining and tweaking the design for his "battery box on wheels" and is now preparing to release the EZ-EV car as open source plans, build-it-yourself kits and complete vehicles.
Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding site, has assembled a list of 2012's greatest hits which we've narrowed down to five of the more technology-related projects. Conspicuously absent from the company's official selection is the massively popular Form 1 3D printer
by Formlabs, which features game-changing technology that quickly sparked a patent suit
by 3D Systems.
Since being delivered into the eager hands of hackers, enthusiasts and dabblers, the credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi
personal computer has found itself an integral part of a growing list of novel devices and applications. For his addition to the list, founder and CEO of Parts-People, Nathan Morgan, has built a feature-packed portable PC that brings another Gizmag favorite to the table ... 3D printing.
Educational electronics kits like the one from Minty Geek
are a great introduction to the world of circuit building and electronic tinkering, but are perhaps a little too basic for more advanced hobbyists. Three MIT students are currently enjoying enormous success on the Kickstarter crowd-funding platform with a DIY Tesla coil kit called oneTesla that can make artificial lightning sing ... well, erm, play music from a MIDI source. Now where did I put that polyphonic version of This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us
Let's say you're interested in acquiring a large bipedal robot. Commercial options, like Kawada Industries' HRP-4 and KAIST's HUBO
cost upwards of US$300K and $400K respectively. Those could break the bank, and building one from scratch is an expensive and time-consuming process in itself. Now Korean robotics company RoboBuilder is offering a pre-built solution that's one-tenth the cost of those robots, and at approximately three feet tall is big enough to compete in RoboCup
soccer's "TeenSize" division.
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.
For the last few years, Puzzlebox has been publishing open source software and hacking guides that walk makers through the modification of RC helicopters so that they can be flown and controlled using just the power of the mind. Full systems have also been custom built to introduce youngsters to brain-computer interfaces and neuroscience. The group is about to take the project to the next stage by making a Puzzlebox Orbit brain-controlled helicopter available to the public, while encouraging user experimentation by making all the code, schematics, 3D models, build guides and other documentation freely available under an open-source license.
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.
Earlier this year, DARPA revealed it was embracing the crowdsourcing model to develop a new amphibious infantry vehicle known as the FANG
(Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle). Now designers and engineers with expertise in drivetrain and mobility systems who wouldn’t mind an extra US$1 million lining their pockets can express their interest with DARPA now opening registrations for the first of three planned challenges that will kick off in January 2013.
Developer Abelardo Gonzalez has created an open-source font designed to help people with dyslexia read more easily. Dubbed OpenDyslexic, the font is currently available as a free download, in the form of a Safari and Chrome extension, a bookmarklet, and a free iOS web-browsing app. OpenDyslexic has also been incorporated into several third-party apps, including popular read-it-later service Instapaper.