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


Industrial Design in the Modern World

What does industrial design mean in today’s connected world? frog industrial design and mechanical engineering teams discuss the evolving principles at the core of making physical products real and meaningful to people today.


History of Typography: An Animated Short

An animated short by Ben Barrett-Forrest.


What Happens If Google’s Glasses Are Evil?

We’ve seen Google’s Project Glass and Microsoft’s immersive mobile Xbox. We’ve even seen a new Apple patent arise showcasing a model for HUD glasses. With the big three involved, augmented reality is undoubtedly on its way. But how will it look? How will it feel? And where do we draw the line between the analog world and the digital one?

Sight is a short by Israeli student filmmakers Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo that explores the potential of augmented reality. The short took the team 3.5 months of shooting, editing, and post production, and it’s full of ideas–some good, some bad, but almost all seemingly possible–that show where augmented reality could go if society continues its unbridled addiction with gamification, social networking, and Wikipedia.

This conceptual short is full of brilliant ideas as it is frightening ones. Where do we draw the line between real life and augmented life?


We were inspired by many current day apps and several sci-fi movies. But most of the ideas came from us trying to visualize a world where this tech is standard and what kind of interactions can happen in it. We tried to create interfaces that were believable. I’m very much into fancy complex interfaces, but not to the point where it hinders the viewer’s understanding of the shot. So we tried to carefully tread that fine line of making it look real and pretty, and at the same time communicate with the viewer effectively.

Lazo is right. The visuals are incredibly easy to grasp, with a cooking app that looks straight out of iOS and dating achievements that seem at home on any gaming console. The short’s UIs are a perfect half-step removed from current day technologies, making them great fodder for sci-fi.

But it’s the human elements that they nail–the dual appeal and superficiality of these AR apps–when chopping a cucumber or having a conversation has to become a quantifiable game or skill. A particular moment of brilliance occurs about three minutes in during the date scene. I’m not talking about the UI here. Listen to the cadence of the actors’ dialog. It’s the antithesis of Sorkin rapidfire repartee, as every response prompts a “let me look this up on my phone” information check.

If augmented reality succeeds, we’ll know pretty much anything we want about anything we look at. We’ll be able to remember names through facial recognition, learn skills through integrated coaching, and watch YouTube on 100-inch TVs mounted anywhere imaginable. But whether or not these experiences allow us to appreciate the world as perpetual students or tempt us to trivialize the world as persistent gamers (complete with ads!) is one of the greatest design challenges of the foreseeable future. The fact that we’ve seen so many videos of what this technology might feel like, and that none of them seem all that useful suggests that we still haven’t found the use-case that’ll spur AR’s adoption.


Happy World Industrial Design Day!

Blind Self-Portrait

While the visitor keeps their eyes shut, a moving platform guides a pen in their hand to draw a self-portrait, using computer vision to track their face and generate a line drawing. The result is a machine-aided drawing, a self-portrait you could never draw.

Here we’re testing an early version that moves about a half or third the speed of the more recent versions.

“Blind Self Portrait” is a collaboration between Matt Mets and Kyle McDonald, installed for the first time at the NYC Resistor interactive show interactiveshow2012.eventbrite.com/?ref=ecount



The DIWire Bender

The DIWire Bender is a rapid prototype machine that bends metal wire to produce 2D or 3D shapes.Wire unwinds from a spool, passes through a series of wheels that straighten it, and then feeds through the bending head, which moves around in 3 dimensions to create the desired bends and curves. Vector files (e.g., Adobe Illustrator files), text files of commands (e.g., feed 50 mm, bend 90° to right…) provide DIWire’s instructions.

It’s essentially a 3D printer that describes lines, instead of volumes, in space, and it could be used for anything from prototypes to customized products.


DuVine Space Jersey Video

Here is a video commercial I edited for my friend’s company Space for All

I edited this in Cyberlink PowerDirector 8, the music is from premiumbeat.com and edited in Audacity. It is real high altitude footage from one of their launches.

Space for All is a company that “sends products and experiments to over 100,000 feet, above 99% of the atmosphere on large meteorological balloons” they also photograph them and make video recordings of the flight and then send your products back to you, along with any footage they take for any advertisement/publicity stunt that you would like.

The Big Game

A video I created a while ago about an epic chess game. It was shot with a Canon HD video camera and edited in Final Cut Pro.