Tuesday, September 13. 2016
Note: what about starting again after the Summer #farniente with some "illusions and science"? "Amazing" that's for sure.
Would have certainly been a useful resource for the research workshop we led around "the cloud" with Random International, about ghost data presence (and to develop Ghost Data Interfaces). Especially as I pointed out the "sublime" dimension of technology in a related post.
Via brusspup (channel on Youtube)
with some gyroscopes:
(remember that btw?)
or with some magnets:
or even with some hammer!
Tuesday, August 02. 2016
By fabric | ch
As we continue to lack a decent search engine on this blog and as we don't use a "tag cloud" ... This post could help navigate through the updated content on | rblg (as of 07.2016), via all its tags!
HERE ARE ALL THE CURRENT TAGS TO NAVIGATE ON | RBLG BLOG:
(to be seen just below if you're navigating on the blog's page or here for rss readers)
Posted by Patrick Keller in fabric | ch at 16:58
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Friday, March 13. 2015
A startup called Voxel8 is using materials expertise to extend the capabilities of 3-D printing.
By Kevin Bullis
The quadcopter printed by Voxel8.
Three cofounders of Voxel8, a Harvard spinoff, are showing me a toy they’ve made. At the company’s lab space—a couple of cluttered work benches in a big warehouse it shares with other startups—a bright-orange quadcopter takes flight and hovers above tangles of wires, computer equipment, coffee mugs, and spare parts.
Voxel8 isn’t trying to get into the toy business. The hand-sized drone serves to show off the capabilities of the company’s new 3-D printing technology. Voxel8 has developed a machine that can print both highly conductive inks for circuits along with plastic. This makes it possible to do away with conventional circuit boards, the size and shape of which constrain designs and add extra bulk to devices.
Conductive ink is just one of many new materials Voxel8 is planning to use to transform 3-D printing.
The new ink is not only highly conductive and printable at room temperature; it also stays where it’s put. Voxel8 uses the ink to connect conventional components—like computer chips and motors—and to fabricate some electronic components, such as antennas.
The company made the quadcopter by printing its plastic body layer by layer, periodically switching to printing conductive lines that became embedded by successive layers of plastic. At the appropriate points in the process, the Voxel8 team would stop, manually add a component, such as an LED, and then start the printer again.
The toy looks like something that could be made with conventional techniques. The real goal is to work with customers to discover new applications that can only be produced via 3-D printing. A video the company made to show off its technology starts by asking: “What would you do if you could 3-D print electronics?” While the founders have some ideas, they really don’t know what the technology is going to be particularly useful for.
Voxel8’s business plan is to start by selling the conductive ink and a desktop 3-D printer. The machine is designed primarily to produce prototypes, not to manufacture large quantities of finished product. The company’s long-term goal, however, is to create industrial manufacturing equipment that can print large numbers of specialized materials simultaneously, which will enable new kinds of devices.
The founders will draw on a large collection of novel materials—and strategies for designing new ones—developed over the last decade by cofounder Jennifer Lewis, a professor of biologically inspired engineering at Harvard (see “Microscale 3-D Printing).
One of Lewis’s key insights has been how to design materials that flow under pressure—such as in a printer-head nozzle—but immediately solidify when the pressure is removed. This is done by engineering microscopic particles to spontaneously form networks that hold the material in place. Those particles can be made of various materials: strong structural ones that can survive high temperatures, as well as epoxies, ceramics, and materials for resistors, capacitors, batteries, motors, and electromagnets, among many other things (see “Printing Batteries”).
“The long-term possibility is almost endless numbers of materials being coprinted together with superfine resolution,” says cofounder and hardware lead Michael Bell. “That’s far more interesting than printing a single material.”
DURHAM, N.C. -- Using little more than a few perforated sheets of plastic and a staggering amount of number crunching, Duke engineers have demonstrated the world's first three-dimensional acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.
The acoustic cloaking device works in all three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential for future applications such as sonar avoidance and architectural acoustics.
The study appears online in Nature Materials.
"The particular trick we're performing is hiding an object from sound waves," said Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. "By placing this cloak around an object, the sound waves behave like there is nothing more than a flat surface in their path."
To achieve this new trick, Cummer and his colleagues turned to the developing field of metamaterials--the combination of natural materials in repeating patterns to achieve unnatural properties. In the case of the new acoustic cloak, the materials manipulating the behavior of sound waves are simply plastic and air. Once constructed, the device looks like several plastic plates with a repeating pattern of holes poked through them stacked on top of one another to form a sort of pyramid.
To give the illusion that it isn't there, the cloak must alter the waves' trajectory to match what they would look like had they had reflected off a flat surface. Because the sound is not reaching the surface beneath, it is traveling a shorter distance and its speed must be slowed to compensate.
"The structure that we built might look really simple," said Cummer. "But I promise you that it's a lot more difficult and interesting than it looks. We put a lot of energy into calculating how sound waves would interact with it. We didn't come up with this overnight."
To test the cloaking device, researchers covered a small sphere with the cloak and "pinged" it with short bursts of sound from various angles. Using a microphone, they mapped how the waves responded and produced videos of them traveling through the air.
Cummer and his team then compared the videos to those created with both an unobstructed flat surface and an uncloaked sphere blocking the way. The results clearly show that the cloaking device makes it appear as though the sound waves reflected off an empty surface.
Although the experiment is a simple demonstration showing that the technology is possible and concealing an evil super-genius' underwater lair is a long ways away, Cummer believes that the technique has several potential commercial applications.
"We conducted our tests in the air, but sound waves behave similarly underwater, so one obvious potential use is sonar avoidance," said Cummer. "But there's also the design of auditoriums or concert halls--any space where you need to control the acoustics. If you had to put a beam somewhere for structural reasons that was going to mess up the sound, perhaps you could fix the acoustics by cloaking it."
This research was supported by Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grants from the Office of Naval Research (N00014-13-1-0631) and from the Army Research Office (W911NF-09-1-00539).
"Three-dimensional broadband omnidirectional acoustic ground cloak," Zigoneanu L., Popa, B., Cummer, S.A. Nature Materials, March 9, 2014. DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3901
Thursday, July 24. 2014
You're looking at a new awesome nano-material invented that does the seemingly impossible: It hides things from touch. Just a thin layer of this amazing polymer will hide anything under it from being perceived by your sense of touch. In this photo you can see how it "absorbs" a metal cylinder.
How is this magic possible?
According to the the scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, this "crystalline material structured with sub-micrometer accuracy [...] consists of needle-shaped cones, whose tips meet." It perfectly adapts and absorbs the shape of anything under it.
The metamaterial structure directs the forces of the touching finger such that the cylinder is hidden completely.
Not only your finger won't be able to detect it, but a force feedback measurement instrument will fail too. According to Tiemo Bückmann, the lead scientists in the project, "it is like in Hans-Christian Andersen's fairy tale about the princess and the pea. The princess feels the pea in spite of the mattresses. When using our new material, however, one mattress would be sufficient for the princess to sleep well."
What does this mean in real life?
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology claims that the material was developed for purely experimental purposes, "but might open up the door to interesting applications in a few years from now, as it allows for producing materials with freely selectable mechanical properties. Examples are very thin, light, and still comfortable camping mattresses or carpets hiding cables and pipelines below."
I like that. Carpets that can perfectly hide cables is something I'd pay money for. And I'd love a camping blanket that perfectly absorbs any rock and twig on the ground, leaving a smooth surface to sleep on.
Wednesday, January 15. 2014
Intel’s new single board computer, Edison, takes on a familiar form factor. Jammed into an SD card, the 400MHz Quark processor on board has two cores, flash memory, and includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy for communication. It runs Linux on one core and a real time operating system on the other. You can program Edison by inserting the board into the SD card reader of your computer. The pins on the bottom of the board are capable of GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI, and PWM. “It can be designed to work with most any device—not just computers, phones, or tablets, but chairs, coffeemakers, and even coffee cups,” according to Intel’s press release. “The possibilities are endless for entrepreneurs and inventors of all kinds.” At first glance, I think this could be a good board for makers as well.
Check out the video below for more about Intel’s newest dev board including some test implementations from Thomas Lipoma, the founder of Rest Devices, the makers of the Mimo baby monitor.
Monday, December 09. 2013
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab and the Max Planck Institutes have created a foldable, cuttable multi-touch sensor that works no matter how you cut it, allowing multi-touch input on nearly any surface.
In traditional sensors the connectors are laid out in a grid and when one part of the grid is damaged you lose sensitivity in a wide swathe of other sensors. This system lays the sensors out like a star which means that cut parts of the sensor only effect other parts down the line. For example, you cut the corners off of a square and still get the sensor to work or even cut all the way down to the main, central connector array and, as long as there are still sensors on the surface, it will pick up input.
The team that created it, Simon Olberding, Nan-Wei Gong, John Tiab, Joseph A. Paradiso, and Jürgen Steimle, write:
This very direct manipulation allows the end-user to easily make real-world objects and surfaces touch interactive,
You can read the research paper here but this looks to be very useful in the DIY hacker space as well as for flexible, wearable projects that require some sort of multi-touch input. While I can’t imagine we need shirts made of this stuff, I could see a sleeve with lots of inputs or, say, a watch with a multi-touch band.
Don’t expect this to hit the next iWatch any time soon – it’s still very much in prototype stages but definitely looks quite cool.
Thursday, October 24. 2013
Shapeoko was the little milling machine that could. It surpassed its Kickstarter goal and went into production with the goal of supplying CNC mill fans with an easy-to-use and inexpensive ($300) CNC machine.
Two years after the Kickstarter campaign concluded, creator Edward Ford has joined forces with Inventables to build the Shapeoko 2, which goes on pre-sale today. The second version features a completely redesigned Z-axis, dual Y-axis steppers, as well as Inventables’ MakerSlide linear bearing system.
If you’ll be in Chicago on today (note: last monday), Inventables will be holding a Shapeoko 2 launch event where you’ll get the opportunity to see the machine in action. You can also pre-order the kit. The price is $300 for just the mechanics — just add electronics — or you can get a full kit for $650.
Tuesday, October 22. 2013
Magnetic hard discs can store data for little more than a decade. But nanotechnologists have now designed and built a disk that can store data for a million years or more.
Back in 1956, IBM introduced the world’s first commercial computer capable of storing data on a magnetic disk drive. The IBM 305 RAMAC used fifty 24-inch discs to store up to 5 MB, an impressive feat in those days. Today, however, it’s not difficult to find hard drives that can store 1 TB of data on a single 3.5-inch disk.
But despite this huge increase in storage density and a similarly impressive improvement in power efficiency, one thing hasn’t changed. The lifetime over which data can be stored on magnetic discs is still about a decade.
That raises an interesting problem. How are we to preserve information about our civilisation on a timescale that outlasts it? In other words, what technology can reliably store information for 1 million years or more?
Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Jeroen de Vries at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and a few pals. These guys have designed and built a disk capable of storing data over this timescale. And they’ve performed accelerated ageing tests which show it should be able to store data for 1 million years and possibly longer.
These guys start with some theory about ageing. Clearly, it’s impractical to conduct an ageing experiment in real time, particularly when the periods involved are measured in millions of years. But there is a way to accelerate the process of ageing.
This is based on the idea that data must be stored in an energy minimum that is separated from other minima by an energy barrier. So to corrupt data by converting a 0 to a 1, for example, requires enough energy to overcome this barrier.
The probability that the system will jump in this way is governed by an idea known as Arrhenius law. This relates the probability of jumping the barrier to factors such as its temperature, the Boltzmann constant and how often a jump can be attempted, which is related to the level of atomic vibrations.
Some straightforward calculations reveal that to last a million years, the required energy barrier is 63 KBT or 70 KBT to last a billion years. “These values are well within the range of today’s technology,” say de Vries and co.
And to prove the point, they go ahead and build a disk capable of storing information for this period of time. The disk is simple in conception. The data is stored in the pattern of lines etched into a thin metal disc and then covered with a protective layer.
The metal in question is tungsten, which they chose because of its high melting temperature (3,422 degrees C) and low thermal expansion coefficient. The protective layer is silicon nitride (Si3N4) chosen because of its high resistance to fracture and its low thermal expansion coefficient.
These guys made their disc using standard patterning techniques and stored data in the form of QR codes with lines 100nm wide. They then heated the disks at various temperatures to see how the data fared.
The results are impressive. According to Arrhenius law, a disk capable of surviving a million years would have to survive 1 hour at 445 Kelvin, a test that the new disks passed with ease. Indeed, they survived temperatures up to 848 Kelvin, albeit with significant amounts of information loss.
That compares well with the Rosetta Project, a proposal by the Long Now Foundation to create archival materials capable of storing information for periods in excess of 10,000 years.
The new work suggests we ought to be able to preserve a significant amount of information for future civilisations, perhaps even alien ones.
There are caveats, of course. The theory behind accelerated aging only applies in very specific circumstances and says nothing about survivability in other cases. It’s hard to imagine the new disk surviving a meteor strike, for example. Indeed, it would be unlikely to survive the temperatures that can occur in an ordinary house fire.
But de Vries and co are confident that they can make even more robust data storage systems. Their work is an interesting step towards preserving our data for future civilisations.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1310.2961 : Towards Gigayear Storage Using a Silicon-Nitride/Tungsten Based Medium
Be ready to keep all your crap data, Facebook shadow profile and timeline or other lolcats collection for over a million years!
Tuesday, July 09. 2013
By exploiting some exotic acoustic techniques, researchers have built a window that allows the passage of air but not sound
Noise pollution is one of the bugbears of modern life. The sound of machinery, engines, neighbours and the like can seriously affect our quality of life and that of the other creatures that share this planet.
But insulating against sound is a difficult and expensive business. Soundproofing generally works on the principle of transferring sound from the air into another medium which absorbs and attenuates it.
So the notion of creating a barrier that absorbs sound while allowing the free of passage of air seems, at first thought, entirely impossible. But that’s exactly what Sang-Hoon Kima at the Mokpo National Maritime University in South Korea and Seong-Hyun Lee at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials, have achieved.
These guys have come up with a way to separate sound from the air in which it travels and then to attenuate it. This has allowed them to build a window that allows air to flow but not sound.
The design is relatively simple and relies on two exotic acoustic phenomenon. The first is to create a material with a negative bulk modulus.
A material’s bulk modulus is essentially its resistance to compression and this is an important factor in determining the speed at which sound moves through it. A material with a negative bulk modulus exponentially attenuates any sound passing through it.
However, it’s hard to imagine a solid material having a negative bulk modulus, which is where a bit of clever design comes in handy.
Kima and Lee’s idea is to design a sound resonance chamber in which the resonant forces oppose any compression. With careful design, this leads to a negative bulk modulus for a certain range of frequencies.
Their resonance chamber is actually very simple—it consists of two parallel plates of transparent acrylic plastic about 150 millimetres square and separated by 40 millimetres, rather like a section of double-glazing about the size of a paperback book.
This chamber is designed to ensure that any sound resonating inside it acts against the way the same sound compresses the chamber. When this happens the bulk modulus of the entire chamber is negative.
An important factor in this is how efficiently the sound can get into the chamber and here Kima and Lee have another trick. To maximise this efficiency, they drill a 50 millimetre hole through each piece of acrylic. This acts as a diffraction element causing any sound that hits the chamber to diffract strongly into it.
The result is a double-glazed window with a negative bulk modulus that strongly attenuates the sound hitting it.
Kima and Lee use their double-glazing unit as a building block to create larger windows. In tests with a 3x4x3 “wall” of building blocks, they say their window reduces sound levels by 20-35 decibels over a sound range of 700 Hz to 2,200 Hz. That’s a significant reduction.
And by using extra building blocks with smaller holes, they can extend this range to cover lower frequencies.
What’s handy about these windows is that holes through them also allow the free flow of air, giving ample ventilation as well.
The applications are many. Changing the size of the holes makes the windows tunable so they screen out only certain frequencies, the new designs have some interesting applications.
“For example, if we are in a combined area of sounds from sea waves of low frequency and noises from machine operating at a high frequency, we can hear only the sounds from sea waves with fresh air,” say Kima and Lee.
What’s more, they say the same idea should also work in water which could help in applications such as protecting marine animals from noise pollution.
A clever idea that tackles one of the increasingly common problems of modern living.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1307.0301: Air Transparent Soundproof Window.
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