Micro-robots Making Things!

I’m always a sucker for tiny things but also have a great love for robots, so when I learned about these micro-robots, I really got excited. We’re all familiar with ant colonies, where every tiny creature is running around doing just what it needs to. Well it looks like SRI International has taken inspiration from the giant mounds of insects, to create their own swarms of tiny worker robots that can put together mechanical assemblies and electronic circuits.

Diamagnetic Micro Manipulation (DM3) uses tiny magnets that move under a circuit board, to get the micro-robots to follow a set pattern based on a set of preprogrammed instructions. The system can be set up so just one or a couple of robots are working together, or you can have giant groups of them moving together in sync like some bizarre gymnastics routine. Despite their tiny size, the robots can move up to a foot in a single second, so they can haul around your micro manufacturing supplies pretty swiftly.

SRI says that DM3 can be used for prototyping parts, electronics assembly, biotech lab-on-a-chip experiments, and assembling small mechanical systems in hostile environments. Eventually they plan to scale up the technology, by developing a manufacturing head containing thousands of the little buggers that can build much larger assemblies.

As you might expect, the funding comes from the military, and is part of DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program.

Check out the video of the tiny robots in action, you’ll be surprised by how fast and accurate they can be:

Source - Original written by Michael Trei

Thermal Power: Use Your Body Heat to Power Wearable Tech

There’ll soon be no need to ever take off wearable technology as your body heat will be able to run a generator to keep it powered-up.

Thanks to a new invention by scientists in Korea heat that escapes the body can be converted into energy using the generator that can be curved along with the shape of the body.

The researchers developed the glass fabric-based thermoelectric generator to be light and flexible which could help to further commercialise wearable technology.

Byung Kin Cho, who led the team in creating the generator, said that with more development the technology could be used on a large-scale to stop heat energy not being used.

At present wearable technology, such as the activity tracking Fitbit Flex wrist band, is developed with long-lasting battery life – the Flex has a battery life which can last up to five days.

However the latest technology would remove the need to ever take wearable technology off, which can cause some users to stop using their gadgets.

It also comes with the benefit that using thermal energy to power and recharge wearables would not need to use any energy created by non-renewable forms.

The small generator was created and tested on small bracelet and it is said it can be able to provide power in a stable and reliable way.

Cho further described how the generator could be used, he said: “Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator.

We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted.

So far only two types of thermal energy generators have been developed, these have been based on either organic or inorganic materials.

Until now the organic generators have been able to work with human skin but have not been able to generate enough power to be put to practical use.

While those made of inorganic materials have been able to generate enough power but have been too bulky to be able to be used with wearable technology.

Cho came up with the a concept and design technique to build a flexible TE generator that minimizes thermal energy loss but maximizes power output.

The new concept uses liquid like pastes of thermal electronic materials printed on to a glass fabric.

When using the generator, with a size of 10cm by 10cm, for a wearable wristband device, it will produce around 40 mW electric power based on the temperature difference of 31 °F between human skin and the surrounding air.

Images 2 and 3 courtesy of KAIST

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Heifer Heist – A Cow Abduction Boardgame

Board Close-Up

I haven’t been posting recently because I have been working on this boardgame called, Heifer Heist! In a nutshell,

Heifer Heist is a classic story about aliens, cows, and a great escape. The players are aliens who have crash landed on a planet and “borrow” cows to power their motherships to return to space. During their cownapping quest, they must dodge the angry farmer, who’s got beef with them!

If you like this game it would be awesome to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up to be notified when our Kickstarter launches!

Heifer Heist

Characters

Cards Close-Up

This is possibly my favorite project that I have worked on with my friend, Jess. We entered it into the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization’s (CUDO) boardgame competition and won the award for Best Visual Design and Most Marketable.

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We have had the awesome opportunity to show and play our game with several designers at Deep Silver Volition, and now in the process of creating a Kickstarter for it!

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Check out the design process!

The Dash – Wireless Smart In Ear Headphones

World’s First Wireless Smart In Ear Headphones. 1000 Songs. Performance Tracking. Body Sensors. Secure Fit.

Music is a part of everyone’s life. It brings joy, excitement and motivation. However it is not always a pleasure listening to music with headphones. Cables tangle and pull at the headphones and ultimately break. In addition, accessing online content from a smartphone is awesome but needing to carry a smartphone all the time can be a real pain.

The Dash consists of a pair of discrete and completely wireless stereo earphones.They will playback music through a Bluetooth connection or use the embedded 4GB/1000 song music player. Everything about the design is focused on delivering freedom of movement, incredible sound and comfort. The Dash is awesome for sports and great for everything else.

The Dash works in sympathy with the wearer. Movements like pace, steps, cadence and distance are tracked. Heart rate, oxygen saturation and energy spent are measured, all the while real time acoustic feedback is provided. It even works without an attached smartphone.

Safety and the ability to communicate with others are important. In addition to being earphones, the Dash will double as a Bluetooth Headset delivering clear voice quality through the embedded ear bone microphone. The ear bone microphone is not sensitive to background noise, since it picks up mechanical vibration generated by your voice from the ear bone.

Even though The Dash provides impressive noise isolation, the wearer can choose to channel ambient sound into the headphone with the transparent audio feature. A swipe on the capacitive touch surface of The Dash will enable or disable ambient sound to pass through.

You can support their Kickstarter here!

KonneKt: A Social Game For Isolated Children In The Hospital

Opportunity

During their treatment, many child cancer patients are isolated for medical reasons. During this period, they often feel quite well, and are very willing to play and to make contact with peers, but because they are not allowed to leave their rooms, they have no way to do so. Direct contact and play with peers is crucial for normal social development, but in some cases, isolation can take up to 4 months, which roughly disrupts this normal social development.

The goal of this project was to support normal social development of isolated children by empowering them to connect with their peers in the hospital in a very direct (face to face) way.

Impact

Multiple iterations of KonneKt were tested at child hospitals to analyze the impact and effect of KonneKt. I could tell you that KonneKt works very well, but everybody says that about his/her project, so I prefer to show you. For that, I would like to refer to the added movie (at 1m14s). In the movie you see two girls engaging in social play in a situation where that would not be possible (or probable) without KonneKt. KonneKt transforms the glass from a barrier into a medium for interaction. During the tests, children between 2 years old and 15 years old played with KonneKt.

In the observations, I learned that individual play with KonneKt attracts other children to play, so when isolated children are building something on their window on their own, their play can easily transform into social play when children join on the other side of the glass. The ambiguous, modular and open character of KonneKt makes it interesting for different kinds of children. The two girls in the movie are using KonneKt for ‘adventurous’ play, and the boy on the background is tinkering!

Because the production costs of KonneKt are low, realization of KonneKt is very feasible.

Source

9 Handy Kitchen Tools Inside a Wine Bottle Sized Container

For those of us with small kitchens and big dreams, the Akebono All-in-One Kitchen Tool Set is pure serendipity. The set boasts nine handy tools including a funnel, flower vase, lemon squeezer, spice grater, boiled egg dicer, cheese grater, lid opener, egg separator and a 420 ml measuring cup, leaving a footprint no larger than a wine bottle. The set is part of the MoMA Design Store’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

images via Deputi-Japan

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Playing With Senses: Perceptible chess game

 

What makes a toy a good toy? Room for sensory discovery, imagination and creativity. Research that Makiko Shinoda has done on the relationship between children and their toys shows that these elements are not found as often in plastic toys or computer games in which form and function are standardized. But there is a different way. A universal toy set that evolves over time and with a child’s age. While toddlers can use the set as building blocks, older children can play chess with it. A game of chess as a metaphor in which generations, cultures, ethnicities can meet. The pieces in the game do not look like chess pieces; they vary in weight, smell, material, form and texture and this allows the players to mould the game in whichever way they choose. A toy for a lifetime.

The 3D Printer That Can Build a House

The University of Southern California is testing a giant 3D printer that could be used to build a whole house in under 24 hours.

Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has designed the giant robot that replaces construction workers with a nozzle on a gantry, this squirts out concrete and can quickly build a home according to a computer pattern. It is “basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building,” says Khoshnevis. The technology, known as Contour Crafting, could revolutionise the construction industry.

The affordable home?

Contour Crafting could slash the cost of home-owning, making it possible for millions of displaced people to get on the property ladder. It could even be used in disaster relief areas to build emergency and replacement housing.  For example, after an event such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which has displaced almost 600,000 people, Contour Crafting could be used to build replacement homes quickly.

It could be used to create high-quality shelter for people currently living in desperate conditions. “At the dawn of the 21st century [slums] are the condition of shelter for nearly one billion people in our world,” says Khoshnevis, “These buildings are breeding grounds for disease a problem of conventional construction which is slow, labour intensive and inefficient.”

As Khoshnevis points out, if you look around you pretty much everything is made automatically these days –

your shoes, your clothes, home appliances, your car. The only thing that is still built by hand are these buildings.

How does Contour Crafting work?

The Contour Crafting system is a robot that by automates age-old tools normally used by hand. These are wielded by a robotic gantry that builds a three-dimensional object.

Ultimately it would work like this,” says Brad Lemley from Discover Magazine. “On a cleared and leveled site, workers would lay down two rails a few feet further apart than the eventual building’s width and a computer-controlled contour crafter would take over from there. A gantry-type crane with a hanging nozzle and a components-placing arm would travel along the rails. The nozzle would spit out concrete in layers to create hollow walls, and then fill in the walls with additional concrete… humans would hang doors and insert windows.

This technology is like a rock that we have rolled to the top of a cliff, just one little push and the idea will roll along on its own.

- Khoshnevis told Discover Magazine

Swedes Develop Invisible Bike Helmet

You know what kind of sucks about riding a bike? Other than all that pedaling? Bike helmets. Yes, they keep that head of yours from getting splattered, but they take a lot of the open-air-joy out of things, and they’re not all that comfortable. A pair of Swedish women have developed a remarkable solution: the invisible bike helmet.

Once you see how their Hövding helmet works it all makes sense, and is a very clever solution that draws from a number of technologies that are well-established and familiar. They’ve done a pretty impressive job with the design and engineering of this.

Source

Autonomous Drawing Robot by Matthias Dörfelt

Created by Matthias DörfeltMechanical Parts is a series of graphic connectors created by Robo Faber, an autonomous drawing robot determined to reproduce. The robot continuously creates drawings generated using a preset system Matthias developed for Weird Faces and the I Follow flip books. The system works around the idea of thinking how the drawings are created by hand and the same logic designed into the algorithm.

Each connector, or “mechanical part”  is entirely random and unique, based on the presets Matthias programmed. In this way the robot can draft an infinite amount of connectors while looking like it is sketching and thinking about a mechanism to reproduce.

I really like that it is in a way a portion of my creative thinking and practice distilled inside of robo faber, frozen in time. Even if I won’t like the drawings thirty years from now, robo faber will still draw and create in a way I though about things now, thirty years earlier.

- Matthias

There is no logic to which connectors go together and the intention was to leave it open to the audience to find the connections that make sense to them. Matthias thinks a perfect fit could be generated at some point, in theory.

Robo Faber is a custom built differential drive robot consisting of two dc motors with encoders at each of the motor shafts. Custom Arduino driver software has been written to approximate the robots position based on the encoders and to allow the robot to follow arbitrary bezier curves. Like in Weird Faces and the I Follow, the drawings are generated using PaperJS.

You can visit the Project Page or visit Matthias Dörfelt‘s website for his work.

 

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