[garhol] tipped us off about a self-taught hacker who brought a little light to his tiny home. [William Kamkwamba] dropped out of school because his family lacked the $80 per year for tuition. At the age of 14 he read books from the library and gained the knowledge he needed to built a 12 watt wind generator from junk parts. Wow!
We’re pretty used to hearing about creative people who end up getting punished for their hacks. Fortunately he has been rewarded for his brilliance. He’s now studying at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg with a well-deserved scholarship.
His story comes to the surface now because a book about his experiences has just been released. We need more people like this, and they should be rewarded for their efforts like he has been. We’ve put the book on our hold list at our Public Library and can’t wait to gain some knowledge from [William's] experiences.
Check out his short talk at the TED conference, embedded after the break. Continue reading “Hacker rewarded for creating electricity”
[Pattie Maes] from MIT’s Media Lab showed a really interesting augmented reality demo at TED this year. It’s a wearable projector that lets you interact with any surface. A camera tracks the gestures your fingertips make and performs related actions. She shows several uses: projecting a dial pad on your hand, displaying additional info on a product you’re holding, and taking a picture when you form a frame with your hands. The current equipment cost is $350, but that would be reduced in a dedicated device.
The Technology Entertainment Design Conference has been a great source for interesting presentations and in 2006 they started publishing their talks online. This week they published a list of the top 10 most popular talks. There are quite a few tech related ones and we’ve covered some of this work before: [Jeff Han]‘s multitouch demos, [Johnny Lee]‘s Wiimote hacking, [Blaise Aguera y Arcas] demoing a zoomable interface, and finally for a bit of fun [Arthur Benjamin]‘s Mathemagic.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: “Don’t update your firmware five minutes before you’re going to fly an autonomous robot ten feet away from a former Vice President of the United States.”
That was one of the afterthoughts of [Chris Anderson] after presenting his Arduino controlled blimp at TED. (I might have to squeeze TED into my con schedule next year.) The project itself is somewhat documented here, with some hi-res photos, parts list, and some firmware. Apparently the blimp was overcome by the A/C in the auditorium, but I still dig it.