Put on a futuristic-looking, geometric white mask and you’ll suddenly have superhuman senses, hearing targeted sounds from long distances or applying effects to images in real-time. The ‘Eidos’ masks were developed by a group of students from the Royal College of Art in London, fitting over the mouth or ears to enhance sensory perception.
The mask that fits over the mouth and ears features a directional microphone to capture audio, which is processed by software to eliminate background noise. The sound is transmitted directly to the inner ear through bone vibrations to make it seem as if someone else’s speech is coming from inside your own head.
The second mask, which fits over the eyes, adds visual effects to the wearer’s range of vision, and can also analyze visual data. That data is sent to a computer, where software processes it and picks out patterns and movements that are invisible to the naked eye.
“Eidos has broad application in areas where live audio and video analysis is valuable. For example, sportspeople can visualise and improve technique in real time. Eidos also has healthcare benefits where it can be used to boost or refine sensory signals weakened by ageing or disability. In the arts, Eidos can augment live performance such as ballet, fashion or music concerts. It allows us to highlight previously invisible or inaudible details, opening up new and customisable experiences.”
Within five years or less, we could be chatting with the three-dimensional holograms of faraway friends, controlling our computers with mental commands, charging our phones with energy harvested from wasted ambient energy and logging into our bank accounts with facial recognition scans. These are among the technology innovations that computer giant IBM has predicted within the last few years of its annual technology forecast. Here are seven of the most intriguing prospects.
3D Hologram Chat
(image via: Star Wars 20th Century Fox screen capture)
A 3D holographic chat system called “TeleHuman” is the first example of what will likely be a flood of virtual hologram technology that lets us see faraway contacts in three dimensions. TeleHuman creates a life-sized rendering of its subject using six XBox Kinect sensors, a 3D projector and a cylindrical display; the creators say it will be available for $5,000 within five years. A similar project called the RGB+D Toolkit is making waves in the indie filmmaking community.
Of course, there are drawbacks to this inevitably invasive technology. A 2012 study found that connecting minds to machines can allow sensitive private information to ‘leak out’ along with the users’ mental commands. The information revealed included the location of their homes, faces they recognized and even their credit card PINs.
Energy-Scavenging Gadgets That Don’t Need Batteries
Power lines, data centers, televisions and even your coffee maker output waves of ambient energy that typically just dissipate in the air, going to waste. That energy could be used to power all kinds of things, including crucial wireless sensors running on batteries, which keep track of factory machinery or measure environmental pollution. MIT has developed an energy-harvesting microelectromechanical system (MEMs) that translates even tiny vibrations, light and ambient energy into a surprising amount of power, eliminating the need for batteries.
Designer Dennis Siegel shows off some of the possibilities on the consumer side of the spectrum with ‘Energy Parasite,‘ a gadget that gathers energy from home appliances and power plants, stores it in a conventional battery and allows you to use it later for cell phones, mp3 players and other devices.
Multi-Factor Biometrics Eliminate Need for Passwords
We’re not far from an era in which passwords are a thing of the past. Fingerprint scanners have been available for a range of devices for quite a while now, but they’re not ideal – burns, cuts, oil and other irregularities can interfere with scanning. In the future, a range of biometrics including voice, retina and face scanners could be used to verify our identities so we can access devices, personal accounts and private data.
Researchers are developing systems that ensure biometric data is secure, like taking a sample of a user’s voice, dividing it into similar samples, and then cryptographically protecting them before performing a comparison on the voice trying to gain access.
Computers That Can Smell, Taste & Replicate Touch Sensations
IBM predicted that within five years, computers will be able to output and recognize smells and flavors, and even replicate textures, so we can ‘feel’ fabrics before purchasing, for example. Texture data fed into a computer’s drivers can re-create vibrations and temperature on a touch screen, similar to the way some computer game controllers shake to indicate on-screen action. Digitized taste buds breaking down flavors to their molecular components can help compare them, so users can find something that tastes like a favorite food, but is healthier, or get a sense of a recipe before trying it out. Chemical sensors that enable computers to ‘smell’ could guess health problems from changes in your breath or detect environmental toxins.
Changes in the way computers ‘hear’ sound could also lead to some major breakthroughs. Hearing the ‘whole picture’ rather than isolated voices or music could allow computers to learn more about the situations in which the sounds are produced. For example, a computer could analyze the sounds of a baby crying and identify based on past experience whether the cause is need for a diaper change or food, or more serious problem. Japanese researchers are currently integrating smell technology into humanoid robots, as well.
The End of Junk Mail
(image via: Minority Report 20th Century Fox Screen Capture)
Advances in creepily targeted advertising could mean that junk mail is no longer junk. When the ads that appear in your inbox and physical mailbox are tailored specifically to your tastes and interests, you’re going to be more likely to click on them, which is exactly what marketers want. Information assembled online, through customer loyalty cards and by other means tell advertisers more than ever about your purchasing habits, your household and your income. Of course, we’re trading the annoyance of junk mail for what could be considered a serious invasion of privacy. Many consumers have no idea how much can be learned about their lives from their surfing habits.
Finely tuned junk mail filters will also help combat the constant flood of invitations to buy black market Viagra, enlarge certain body parts and claim inheritances from long-lost relatives in Nigeria.
Just like all that ambient energy, kinetic energy from movement of all sorts is a potentially rich source of power that currently goes to waste. The movement generated by trains, cars, and our own hands and feet could provide electricity to the venues in which it’s harvested. This technology is already in place at a number of human-powered gyms, dance clubs and subway stations. Treadmills, stationary bikes, roller coasters, sidewalks and handrails absorb the energy from movements and convert it into power for lights and other electrical equipment.
The chewed gum, fingernail clippings and cigarette butts you leave behind in public places could say a lot more about you than you’d like to imagine. Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg makes this abundantly clear with her series, ‘Stranger Visions’, which reproduces people’s faces using DNA extracted from such forensic evidence collected in New York City and Brooklyn.
Dewey-Hagborg is a PhD student studying electronic arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. After extracting the DNA from her samples, she focuses on specific genomic regions, sequences them and then enters the data into a computer program, which produces a model of the face of the person who tossed that item onto the ground.
From those models, Dewey-Hagborg produces sculptures of the faces using a 3D printer. These life-sized portraits, which look similar to death masks, hang on gallery walls, often beside wooden boxes holding the original samples and showing photographs of where they were found.
The artist learned about DNA extraction from a course in molecular biology at Genspace, a do-it-yourself biology lab in Brooklyn where she does some of her work. She uses standard DNA extraction kits ordered online to analyze the DNA. The results are shockingly detailed; a mask of her own face made using the same technique shows just how accurate the results can be. However, there’s no way to tell age from DNA, so the computer produces a 25-year-old version of the person. Learn more about the process at Smithsonian.
Yet another candidate has entered the race for the world’s first 3D-printed house, with a mobile 3D printing factory in a shipping container that can produce the components on-site. Dutch studio DUS Architects plan to use the ‘KamerMaker‘ machine to print a full-size canal house in Amsterdam, one piece at a time. Work will start within the next six months.
The other two other concepts currently in the works, ProtoHouse 2.0 and Landscape House, also aim to get started on their own 3D houses by this summer. What sets the DUS Architects concept apart is the fact that its printer is mobile. The KamerMaker is 3.5 meters high and easy to transport from one place to another.
The house, which will be built in a developing area along the Buiksloter-canal, will act as a hub for 3D printed architecture. DUS aims to print the entire facade this year, as well as the first room; other rooms will come later. Once complete, the first floor will become a ‘welcoming room.’ The entire construction site will be an event space to show off the capabilities of this technology.
The KamerMaker can print structures out of recyclable materials available on location, including biodegradable plastics, giving it great potential for emergency relief architecture. DUS plans to use polypropylene as well as plastic recycled on-site to build the facade and first floor of the house. Each room in the house will be dedicated to a certain type of research, including a ‘cook room’ where researchers will experiment with 3D printing in potato starch, and a ‘policy room’ where permits for printed structures will be discussed.
The Urbee 2 is strong as steel, half the weight of a conventional vehicle, and can be manufactured in a warehouse full of plastic-spraying 3D printers. The teardrop-shaped 3D-printed car is an ecologically sound hybrid, and it looks cool, too. Aerodynamic and futuristic, this car could be a total game-changer for the automobile industry, leading to a rise of small-batch automakers.
The three-wheel, two-passenger prototype vehicle with a generously sized, curved transparent roof (also made of plastic) was constructed by Kor Ecologic at RedEye, an on-demand 3D-printing facility with a Fused Deposition Modeling printer that sprays molten polymer one microscopic layer at a time to create the desired shape. The whole car takes about 2,500 hours to manufacture, but the process is fully automated.
The Urbee 2 3D-printed car’s light weight makes it so fuel-efficient, creator Jim Kor aims to make it from San Francisco to New York City on ten gallons of gas. Kor Ecologic’s design ideals for the project include causing as little pollution as possible during manufacturing, operation and recycling of the car, using local or regional and/or recyclable materials whenever possible, and making it affordable.
You might wonder just how safe a plastic car can really be, but Kor is aiming high in that department, too. The bumpers will be just as strong as their sheet-metal equivalents. The final goal for the Urbee is not just to exceed all current automotive safety standards, but be able to pass the tech inspection required for race cars.
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A train station envisioned for the town of Sevastopol in Ukraine seems to be perpetually covered in clouds, topped with a light, helium-lifted structure inspired by airships. ‘Under the Cloud‘ consists of a passenger terminal building and a buoyant freeform canopy that hovers over the green roof of the main building.
The canopy shell has an aluminum frame with longitudinal and transverse trusses, the helium gas held inside a rigid framework in bags. With the guy lines securing it, it really does seem as if it could lift away into the sky at any moment.
Says designer Arthur Kupreychuk, “The supporting structure of the canopy is similar to the structure of an airship. The canopy strives upward by buoyancy forces, if its average density is less than the density of the atmosphere.”
What’s the purpose of this canopy? Judging by the designer’s other projects, it may just be for fun. Kupreychuk previously designed The Draft Parking Lot with the Car Service Station, another airship-inspired structure “conceived as the embodiment of the boundless creative thought of an architect, who often must try to restrict it and leave it unfulfilled.” This concept won the distinction of being “the most surreal project designed in ArchiCAD” in 2011.
In the future, will our environments constantly change around us according to the weather and our whims, without us having to lift a finger? If ‘Wallbots’ are any indication, the homes of the future might be even more adaptable than we imagined. This concept by architect and technologist Otto Ng is a mobile wall system that reconfigures itself based on real-time information.
Developed at the University of Toronto’s RAD (Responsive Architecture at Daniels), the Wallbots system is a set of ‘architectural intelligent agents’ that change spatial boundaries in a room based on weather data as well as a home’s inhabitants’ social networking and behaviors.
Each individual wallbot is equipped with electronic and kinetic systems that enable it to stretch itself from 1 meter to 1.5 meters in width by expanding its origami skin and kinetic skeleton. Free of tracks or other limitations, the walls move around the interior of a space on wheels. The Wallbots can attach to each other using electromagnetic mechanisms with infra-red positioning feedback, forming longer walls.
“Learning from scientific research in collective intelligence, WALLBOTS perform in swarm condition and communicate among themselves wirelessly. Through a feedback loop, WALLBOTS also analyze their previous experience and learn to do better configuration design for new scenarios.”
Learn more and see other projects by Otto Ng at Ottocad.net.
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You can judge for yourself which one is the actual winner of this dubious award after taking a look at this incredible collection of the tiniest hotels in the world!72 Comments - Click Here to Read More »»
Looming above the surface of the sea like a spaceship, the Water Discus Underwater Hotel is a futuristic wonder that is actually set to be constructed in Dubai. The luxurious resort features a support column connecting the upper discs to additional volumes underwater, with stairs and an elevator whisking guests up and down.
Deep Ocean Technology has released images of the planned hotel, which may be reproduced elsewhere in the Middle East. The Water Discus Underwater Hotel can work as an independent structure or be joined with additional modules to create a larger complex.
Not only does the underwater section of the hotel boast glass-walled rooms, but guests can actually manipulate a special lighting system to illuminate the water outside their windows, getting a better look at the sea life that emerges at night. For those who want to venture out into the water, there’s an underwater dive center.
Within the disc that hovers above the surface of the water is a restaurant, spa, recreation area and a lobby built inside a massive swimming pool that’s accessible from the roof. The deep pool enables guests to dive down into this disc and swim around the enclosed restaurant.
And this may just be the coolest part: if there’s any danger, like a severe weather event, the underwater disc will automatically rise to the surface. The small size of each disc also makes them easy to transport if “environmental or economic conditions” make it necessary. See more images at ArchDaily.
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From the United States to the United Arab Emirates, from Sweden to the South Pacific, here are six hotels that are perfectly designed for the nautically inclined.29 Comments - Click Here to Read More »»
Three-dimensional printing has made so many advancements in recent years, researchers have been able to print highly detailed models of castles that are as small as a grain of sand. But what about the other end of the spectrum? A concept by designer Sebastian Bertram takes 3D printing a step further with a massive robot that “prints” contours of a building shell using fast-drying concrete, one layer at a time.
The 3D Contour Crafter doesn’t look too different from contemporary construction equipment, resembling a sort of crane. But when it’s programmed with pattern data, the robot pours concrete in specific configurations, repeating the process over and over again until a three-dimensional form is achieved.
Combining industrial production with rapid prototyping techniques, the Contour Crafter concept could potentially revolutionize urban construction methods. The fast pace and uniform nature of this kind of building would speed up the construction process to an unprecedented rate, enabling builders to keep up with the demand for fast-growing urban areas.
While it’s not yet a reality, printing entire buildings is definitely not beyond the realm of possibility. If we can already use 3D printing to produce vehicles, furniture, shoes, artificial bones, tiny models of cities and even a replica of King Tut’s mummy, there’s no reason we can’t raise the bar even higher. And with our population expected to grow to over 9 billion by the year 2050, we’d better get a move on.
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What should an innovation space for work in robotics look like? The winners of the Robot Workshop competition by suckerPUNCH have illustrated incredible ideas that leave no doubt as to the cutting-edge nature of what takes place inside. The top 3 submissions to the contest each have a unique and futuristic spin for the Robot Workshop, which is envisioned for an open lot in Brooklyn.
Though there are no plans to actually build the workshop at this time, suckerPUNCH aims to generate progressive ideas and excitement among the local community of robotics enthusiasts that is already meeting up in makeshift spaces throughout Brooklyn. The idea is that these innovators would be able to come together to utilize shop facilities and interact with each other. Open to the public, the Robot Workshop would be located in a dynamic, artistic neighborhood and inspire further creativity in the community.
SuckerPUNCH explains, “There will be several types of experimentation spaces, from communal studios to private labs. Teaching spaces will allow for workshops and community activities, including classes for children. A large area will also be devoted to storing a stockpile of parts for purchase and use on site. The Workshop will also serve as a social gathering place within the neighborhood through a storefront gallery and bar.”
First Place: ‘Nimbus (Robotic Cloud)’ by Julian Liang and Hector Romero
“The NIMBUS cloud provides the robotic community a public forum to openly exchange and share knowledge. Outfitted with a massive interactive screen and a street connected communal space, the MEGA-Experimentation Stage allows for infinite possibilities to interact with each other—the belief that the best ideas flourish unexpectedly, through sharing and interaction.”
Second Place: ‘androidKRAFT’ by James DeChant
“androidKRAFT is an exploration of the implementation of humanoid robotics in architecture and construction. Integrating computer methodologies and the design and fabrication process, the addition of humanoid robots allows for precise construction, boundless mobility, unlimited memory/processing capabilities, and superb strength. Humanoid robots will not replace humans in the architecture and construction field, but will instead act as an extension of humans and tools.”
Third Place: ‘Divergent Building’ by Angel L. Vidro and Michael J. Quinones
“As a linear feature that exists between two tectonic plates that are moving away from each other, the ‘Divergent Building’ breaks, separate and transforms its spaces. As a proposal for the Robot Workshop and inspired by robotic movements, the building applies mechanical systems to achieve its main feature: maximizing the space as is required by the users. The building opens in order to separate the program in two modules, creating a central atrium, which allows ventilation and lighting. Interior spaces can expand growing to the site limits, creating a dynamic façade that is in continuous change.”