Pseudo 3D chat


[Chris Harrison] and [Scott E. Hudson] have built a novel system for faking a 3D video chat session. Their implementation separates the image of the chat participant from the background. They then dynamically reposition the video based on the movement of the viewers head. Their using the OpenCV library to do facial recognition (just like the Laughing Man demo). The 3D effect is very similar to what you see in [Johnny Lee]‘s Wiimote headtracking. A video of the pseudo 3D chat is embedded below.

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Boxee and Apple TV


We’ve been following Boxee (not Boxxy) since its public alpha debut last Summer. We were captivated by it. Who expected a project built off of code originally intended for hacked Xboxes would be shown on NBC’s Today Show? We’ve been promised internet connected set top boxes for years, but it seems like Boxee is here to stay for two solid reasons: 1. It’s free. 2. Major content providers have finally figured out how to publish online and Boxee supports them. You can replace your network television with on demand content from Hulu, ABC, and the like.

One of the most affordable platforms currently supported by Boxee is the Apple TV. Lifehacker has a guide for installing Boxee on an Apple TV. You prepare a USB flash drive that is then used to patch the stock firmware. Once installed you can take advantage fun features like downloading torrents directly to the box.

UHF power harvesting


[Alanson Sample] and [Joshua R. Smith] have been experimenting with wireless power transfer for their sensing platform. Their microcontroller of choice is the MSP430, which we used on our e-paper clock. They chose it specifically for its ability to work with low voltages and they discus its specific behavior at different voltages. The first portion of their paper uses a UHF RFID reader to transmit to the sensor’s four stage charge pump. They added a supercap to provide enough power for 24 hours of logging while the node isn’t near a reader. For the second half of the paper, they use a UHF antenna designed for digital TV with the same circuit and pointed it at a television tower ~4.1km away. It had an open circuit voltage of 5.0V and 0.7V across an 8KOhm load, which works out to be 60uW of power. They connected this to the AAA battery terminals of the thermometer/hygrometer pictured above. It worked without issue. The thermometer’s draw on a lab power supply was 25uA at 1.5V.

It’s an interesting approach to powering devices. Do you have an application that needs something like this? For more on wireless power, checkout this earlier post on scratch building RFID tags.

[via DVICE]

Water powered jet pack


We’ve all dreamt, with tears in our eyes, of one day flying with a jet pack. The inherent danger of falling and/or exploding were almost as much as of a deterrent as the price tag. Now, that dream is closer to our grasp. This system, looks like it is basically just a pump that drags along behind you pushing water through nozzles on your back. You can see a video of someone flying around on one here. We think that the theme song should actually come with the unit and be broadcast at all times.

The Segwii

The Segwii is a self balancing robot. Yes, another one, only this one can be controlled via WiiMote. The Segwii can function in stand alone mode, which offers only the ability to balance, or it can be tethered. When tethered via USB to the laptop, it can be remotely controlled using the WiiMote through processing.  Sadly, the video above doesn’t show any WiiMote action. Lets hope they continue the work to incorporate a direct bluetooth connection to the bot.

This one seems to be pretty sturdy, though he does mention that temperature changes can throw off the internal gyroscope. This one seems to be similar to the Arduway in terms of how smoothly it keeps balance. The miniature balancing robot has them both beat for pure goofyness though.

LED push buttons


[pros] has come up with a very elegant way of making lighted buttons (translated). Using a bunch of small push buttons harvested from old CD players, he rigged this unique way of mounting LEDs. Each LED has two buttons under it. They are wired in parallel, so if either of them is pushed, the button works. The LED isn’t actually soldered where it passes through the board. The anode and cathode are bent around and soldered to allow the LED a little bit of travel.  There’s a good picture of how he did this on the site. The rest of the details might be hard to decipher though, it looks to be in dutch.

[thanks Tom]