If only we had affordable artificial muscles, we might see rapid advances in prosthetic limbs, robots, exo-skeletons, implants, and more. With cost being one of the major barriers — in addition to replicating the marvel of our musculature that many of us take for granted — a workable solution seems a way off. A team of researchers at MIT present a potential answer to these problems by showing nylon fibres can be used as synthetic muscles.
Some polymer fibre materials have the curious property of increasing in diameter while decreasing in length when heated. Taking advantage of this, the team at MIT were able to sculpt nylon fibre and — using a number of heat sources, namely lasers — could direct it to bend in a specific direction. More complex movement requires an array of heat sources which isn’t practical — yet — but seeing a nylon fibre dance tickles the imagination.
Continue reading “Nylon Fibre Artificial Muscles — Powered by Lasers!”
How much access do you have to a 3D printer? What would you do if you had weeks of time on your hands and a couple spools of filament lying around? Perhaps you would make a two second stop-motion animation called Bears on Stairs.
An in-house development by London’s DBLG — a creative design studio — shows a smooth animation of a bear — well — climbing stairs, which at first glance appears animated. In reality, 50 printed sculptures each show an instance of the bear’s looping ascent. The entire process took four weeks of printing, sculpture trimming, and the special diligence that comes with making a stop-motion film.
Continue reading “3D Printing A Stop Motion Animation”
The Amoreiras Tower, in Lisbon, Portugal, recently added a rooftop viewing area that is open to the public. The top of the tower is one of the highest spots in the city, and the viewing area gives an impressive 360º view of the surrounding area. However, the elevator to get to the top left a lot to be desired. It’s an interior elevator, and didn’t itself offer any view.
So, Artica, along with Schindler, were brought in to solve that problem. The solution was to mount displays on the interior of the elevator, in order to simulate a 360º panoramic view of the city outside. The video is synced up with the elevator, so the view changes as the elevator passengers move up and down between floors.
Artica, who was responsible for the concept, design, and electronics installation accomplished this by first building a prototype in their office building. This was a full-size elevator replica with which they could test the design and get it ready for installation. They then partnered with Schindler to actually install the system in the elevator of the Amoreiras Tower, which necessitated almost completely rebuilding the elevator. As you can see in the video, the resulting view and accompanying music (definitely not elevator music) are fantastic, and it was even done in time for the public opening of the rooftop viewing area.
Like us, you may be wondering where the video footage came from. The scene moves in apparent parallax so video was obviously captured with continuous motion and isn’t a scrolling image. This is the work of a camera toting drone.
Continue reading “A Windowless Elevator with a 360º Panoramic View”
High voltage is not something we usually tinker with at home. In fact, most of us are more comfortable working with non-lethal, low current, low voltage DC signals. When we do venture into the world of high voltage, we prefer to do it vicariously thru someone with more safety training and/or experience.
[Mike] shows us the inner workings of a 240VAC circuit breaker and explains how the different safety features in the device work. In proper MikesElectricStuff form, [Mike] finds out what it takes to destroy the device. Or in this case multiple devices, [Mike] uses his “Destruct-o-tron” to create catastrophic failure in more than one breaker. You can check out the video embedded after the break to learn a bit about how a circuit breaker works, and of course witness the carnage.
Continue reading “Inside A Circuit Breaker With MikesElectricStuff”
[Aaron Wypyszynski] or [Wyp] for short had a dream as a youngster about jumping out of a plane and “carving through the sky” (paraphrasing the video embedded after the break), so when he grew up [Wyp] went ahead and pursued that dream.
What that boyhood dream produced is [Wyp] offering to pull you through the sky on what looks like a proper model of a blunt nosed paper airplane glider. Seems to be a bit like wakeboarding for skydivers, cause that needed to be a thing.
Continue reading “WingBoard: Wakeboarding Behind an Airplane”
We follow [bunnie]’s blog as he posts interesting and usable information quite regularly. [bunnie] posted about a video of a recent talk he did at MIT Media Lab with Nadya Peek and Joi Ito. This was in lieu of his monthly “name that ware” competition, which is worth looking into as well.
The talk is focused on small volume manufacturing and the experiences that the speakers have under their collective belt is large enough that the conversation takes a turn from how to do things in practice, to the theory and technique of manufacturing on a philosophical level.
[bunnie] prefaces the conversation with an explanation of some of the design and manufacturing processes involved when working on the circuit stickers project. He talks about the importance of testing the product and the complex test jig that is required to quality check a simple (in comparison to the test jig) product. [bunnie] shares an overview of the project timeline and where some extended design stages might be found in unexpected places.
The design and manufacturing process is discussed on many levels throughout the talk. Among the points that are insightful, we certainly found ourselves a little jelly of all the time [bunnie] gets to spend in Shenzhen.
If you’re not familiar with [bunnie]’s blog you can check it out at www.bunniestudios.com. Pro Tip: you can spend the better part of your workday browsing topics in the sidebar on the right.
We have covered the MIT Media Lab before, including a trip to Shenzhen that is discussed in the Media Lab talk by [Joi] and [bunnie]. Another interesting interview at SXSW earlier this year by [Sophi Kravitz] who spoke with [Sunanda Sharma] about mediated matter.
Deep in the hills of the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ll find men and women hard at work providing a living for their family. You might find some working in one of the nation’s mines which are rich in natural resources. Others will be working the farms or participating in one of many diverse cultural customs. If you head two hours via dirt road from the capital city of Kinshasa, however, you’ll find something a bit out of place for the area – an active space program.
On a vast yam farm, [Jean-Patrice Keka] has single-handedly developed several rockets that have flirted with the elusive zero gravity environment. [Mr. Keka’s] ‘Mission Control’ is a corrugated metal shed lined with CRT monitors and dated computers, but don’t let this fool you. His vision and drive are just as great as any space faring nation.
His intellect has made him a small fortune in commodities trading, and allows him the luxury to finance his operation without the need of government help. From time to time, he employs the help of local engineering students to get his rockets off the ground. Their payload has included rats and insects, with one launch reaching 10 miles of altitude and the current project aiming for 120 miles. [Mr. Keka] has become a national hero via the televised broadcasts of the launches, and has gotten the attention of national government officials. They even flew him to the US once to petition funding for his work.
[Mr. Keka] and his story should serve as an inspiration to all inspiring hackers and makers to pursue their dreams.
Thanks to [Cmh62] for the tip.