Transform: A Shape Changing Desk

You may have seen videos of this adaptive tech straight out of MIT earlier, showing it manipulating a ball. Check out this video latest video for Transform, utilizing the same tech in an adaptive shape changing desk.

‘I think there’s a lot of space for designers to expand beyond the producer/client model and become knowledge makers, cultural disruptors and gatekeepers between pure economic gain and the well-being of humanity,’

says graduate student and researcher at MIT Media Lab Viirj Kan.

Taking the idea behind inFORM one step further, the MIT team has created a responsive table containing three highly inventive dynamic shape displays.  The arrangement consists of more than a thousand mobile pins that are sensitive to changes in kinetic energy of the surroundings.

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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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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!

Intel Turns Water Into Electricity

On Thursday, September 12th, Intel showed off a low-power communications research project at the firm’s Intel Developer Forum (IDF), which uses wine to charge mobile devices.

The project was demonstrated by Dr Genevieve Bell, Intel’s forward thinking anthropologist executive who has been studying ways to solve the chipmaker’s mobile computing problems.

“Some people turn water into wine, here at Intel we’re turning wine into electricity,” – Bell

Demonstrating what is probably the perfect solution for energy conscious winos out there, an Intel Labs researcher talked through the project on stage alongside Bell, showing off a low-power processor and an accelerometer that were powered by a glass of wine.

“Here’s a peek inside the Intel Labs that might redefine what you think low power really is. Here I have a low-power communications solution, a low-power processing solution and an accelerometer,”

“When I talk about low-power you might think low-power as in one watt or two watt solutions you find in a phone. Today I’m not here to talk about Watts, or milli-Watts, but I’m here to talk about micro-Watts.”

The researcher – we didn’t catch his full name – boasted that the computing solutions being worked on in Intel Labs are so low in power that in the future we’ll be able to “power them by the heat of our skin, or the ambient light in the room”, or “something a little more entertaining”, he added, pointing at the wine glass hooked up to the accelerometer.

Referring to the old school lemon copper trick, the Intel Labs staffer took a big red bottle, poured some wine into the glass, attached some copper and some zinc, and performed an experiment that was not dissimilar to what most of us probably did in high school with lemons and copper electrodes.

Doing this showed the accelerometer data being transferred from the processor and sent to a computer, with a flower rendering on the computer, demonstrating the concept of powering a computing operation with what was left over from last night’s dinner.

According to Intel, the experiment showed that “low-power doesn’t actually mean low performance”.

“It’s possible to start to imagine a world of incredibly low power but also with high performance, which will help unburden us, help us do things that are remarkable and gives the ability to power things like constant sensing, communication, and computing – all of which are necessary for our mobile future,”

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3D Printable Ouya Game Console Case

Gamers will be able to design their own cases for the forthcoming Yves Behar-designed OUYA console and print them out with a MakerBot 3D printer.

The partnership will see OUYA upload 3D print files for the case to Thingiverse, the online design database operated by MakerBot, where they can be downloaded and produced with a desktop 3D printer.

The news comes two months after after mobile phone maker Nokia became the first major manufacturer to release 3D print files for its products, allowing consumers to print their own customised phone cases.

The OUYA’s case includes a lid and a spring-loaded button to house the console’s hardware, allowing users to make modifications to the standard round-edged cube designed by San Francisco designer Yves Behar.

As the first product from technology start-up Boxer8, the OUYA will allow developers to make their own games and tweak the hardware as they wish.

Based on open design principles that encourage users to develop and adapt products themselves, the console will run on Google’s Android operating system and all games will either be free or available as a free trial, while the hardware itself will cost only $99.

The development of OUYA was funded through Kickstarter, with supporters pledging £5.6 million in exchange for first access to the console, making it the second-highest earning project in the crowdfunding website’s history.

Some 1,200 Kickstarter investors were given developer versions of the console at the start of the year, but it’s expected to be available to the public this June.

Last week MakerBot unveiled a prototype of a desktop scanner that will allow users to digitally scan objects they want to replicate with a 3D printerat home – see all MakerBot news and all 3D printing news.

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Speak-er by The

Speak-er are high-quality speakers that plug directly into your MP3 player or computer and, as Engadget puts it, “the most awesome set of desk speakers this planet has ever known” (view review ). Each set includes a left and right speaker.

Construction: Polished white ABS housing with black steel grille
Dimensions: 4h × 6w × 2″d
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Full specs + instructions

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PUSHit Toilet Seat by Hoe Yeong Jung

Plunging toilets is about the worst of bathroom duty you could have, but it has to be done in order to unclog the toilet.  The unsanitary plunger concept of handling a clogged toilet makes a highly unpleasant aroma, visual and spatial component to your bathroom. This design allows the seat to act as the plunger by unclogging the toilet with a simple push which in return makes it a pure thought of freshness.

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Technology + Business + Human Values = Design Innovation

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