Posts by Andrew Lampard
Of all the new inventions I came across at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, Onewheel was the most innovative.
Created by Kyle Doerksen, a consumer products engineer and avid snowboarder, Onewheel is a self-balancing, electric skateboard that carves cement like a snowboard on only – you guessed it – one wheel. And at a top speed of 12 mph, it glides almost as fast as a Segway.
Doerksen made his first prototype in his garage, a mishmash of tires and plywood. But without a stability augmentation system within the board’s motor, he surmised that he wouldn’t be able to balance himself.
“The first functional prototype had a chain drive and big, heavy acid batteries, [and] even that first one was really fun to ride,” said Doerksen, who set out to turn that prototype into a product. "That meant simplifying it, making it more powerful and maneuverable.”
Onewheel is just that. It's primary feature is a big, go-kart tire, 6-inches-wide, that contains an electric hub motor. The board also has gyro and accelerometer sensors, not unlike the ones inside a smartphone. These sensors are crucial because the board turns and stops depending on how you shift your weight.
Patrick Priebe was a lab technician, working in Wuppertal, Germany, before he became a real-life Tony Stark.
Priebe, as evidenced by his extensive trove of YouTube videos, is an amateur maker of elaborate laser guns. The 30-year-old’s work caught our eye when we saw his version of “Iron Man’s” laser glove. You know, the one that Tony Stark uses in the Marvel movies to pulverize his enemies.
Pulse lasers that pop balloons, ornate steampunk blasters, mini laser guns -- Priebe assembles whatever he can imagine in his apartment without plans or blueprints.
He built his first laser after being inspired by the weapons in the original “Battlestar Galactica” television series from the late 1970s. After he was let go from his technician job, Priebe turned to laser-making full-time, selling custom work to clients who watch his YouTube videos.
Priebe is quick to point out that although he calls the lasers “guns,” they are not intended to be used as weapons. That said, some of the lasers could harm skin “but won’t cut your arm off,” he said. The lasers can do physical tricks, like popping a balloon, but caution should be taken when handling them.
We all know that driving when sleepy is dangerous, and the statistics prove it. Drowsy driving accounts for more than 100,000 crashes a year and 1,500 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now three recent University of Pennsylvania mechanical engineering graduates are doing something about it.
Fo r their senior design project, Drew Karabinos, 23, Jason Gui, 23, and Jonathan Kern, 22, created Vigo, a wearable headset that uses an infrared sensor that tracks your alertness. Vigo works like any other Bluetooth headset and connects to your phone. When you’re about to nod off, Vigo jolts you awake, either with music, a flashing LED light or a gentle vibration.
“When we were doing Senior Design and brainstorming [about] the problems we experience ourselves that we want to solve,” said Gui, “and we realized that getting drowsy when we didn’t want to be was a problem we all had.”
Vigo is their answer. In addition to driving, it can be used to keep you awake during other tasks that demand your attention, like long class lectures.
What is the strongest smell you can think of?
Two odors, qualitatively different, come to my mind: the assaulting smell that emanates from the garbage bins outside my building; and, on the opposite end of the smell spectrum, my Mom’s kitchen when she’s roasting chicken.
The former is odious, the latter delicious. But which smell is stronger ?
It would be interesting to compare the two scientifically. After all, odor strength can have big consequences. Earlier this year, a judge in Los Angeles County ordered the makers of the beloved Sriracha hot sauce to suspend operations because of complaints made about its factory's stench.
For a quantitative measurement, you can now turn to a tool called a field olfactometer. Also known as the Nasal Ranger, it’s a portable odor detecting device that measures odor strength. Just think of the possibilities!
We have all seen high-speed police chases on TV. And statistics show that they’re as dangerous as they appear. 360 people are killed each year because of chases, according to a 2010 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now, StarChase, a Virginia-based law enforcement technology company, wants to halt those risky pursuits with a device straight out of a James Bond movie.
The company’s device is a launchable GPS tracker that is mounted onto the grill of a police car. When a suspect flees in a vehicle, an officer can fire a small sticky GPS tracker onto the suspect’s car.
“Law enforcement uses this technology in situations where they have a high-risk vehicle,” said Trevor Fischbach, StarChase’s president. “That could be a stolen car, a car that has narcotics in it, it could be a DUI suspect.”
The GPS module is coated with an adhesive and won’t fall off. The officer then tracks the suspect with mapping software without having to engage in a potentially dangerous chase.
The device isn’t cheap. It costs $5,000 per vehicle to install StarChase, and each replacement GPS tracker costs $500.
We have all seen beautiful examples of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, but when was the last time you wore a piece of origami?
Horatio Yuxin Ha n wants the answer to be “today . ”
Han, a recent graduate of the Pratt Institute of Art and Design, has created Unifold, a pair of origami-like shoes. And unlike origami, folding a Unifold shoe is a 2-minute cinch. Simply cut, fold and wear them outside.
“The idea started when I first became interested in the shoe industry and was surprised how difficult one shoe was to make,” said Han, 23. He explained that one mass-produced shoe is assembled in 20 steps and requires an assembly line of factory workers.
Surely there’s an easier, and cheaper, method, he thought.
After researching traditional shoemaking methods, Han was inspired by the Indian moccasin, which is constructed from three pieces of fabric. Han assigned himself the challenge of updating that idea for modern society and to make it accessible for everyday use. Hence, the Unifold shoe.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big5 mths ago
Are you a “light painter”?
You can answer “yes” if you’ve ever waved a flaming marshmallow or etched your name with a sparkler in front of camera at night.
Light painting is the photographic technique that captures light motions with long camera exposures. Although light painting’s origins can be traced to the start of the 20th Century, it remains, for the most part, a low - fidelity pursuit. Most people stick to words or random patterns.
But that could soon change when Pixelstick, a consumer light - painting tool, hits the market.
Invented by Stephen McGuigan and Duncan Frazier, a duo that collaborates under the incorporated name Bitbanger Labs, the Pixelstick is a 6- foot aluminum rod fitted with 198 LED. Each LED light corresponds with an image pixel. After loading an image onto the Pixelstick with an SD card, move the Pixelstick in front of a camera set to a long exposure. The result resembles an animated-GIF come to life.
“It started when we tried to work light painting into a time lapse,” said Duncan, who once made his living as a freelance stills photographer. “We’ve refined it to the point where you can see photorealistic images.”
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big5 mths ago
When Ted Larson, the CEO of a Silicon Valley robotics firm, hired Rohan Agrawal as his summer intern this year he was skeptical that Rowan could keep up with his team’s pace.
Rohan, after all, is 12 years old. And Larson, whose firm, OLogic, usually hires college or graduate students as interns, had never worked with someone so young. But Larson’s worries were quickly dispelled.
“We had a large box of robot parts that some of the guys at Google gave us,” Larson said of Rowan’s first day at Ologic last summer. The box also contained a few laptops. “The goal was to get Linux and ROS (the Robot Operating System) up and running.”
Larson said that he could have given that box of parts to a grad student and they may have come back to him with a functioning robot in a couple of weeks. Rohan came back the next day with an assembled robot.
“And I was like, ‘oh my god,’ what will I do with him for the summer?” Larson said. “This was Day 2.”
By the end of the internship, Larson was comparing Rohan’s robotics aptitude and knowledge to that of a PhD: “And anyone who has a problem with that clearly hasn’t met Rohan.”