Sunday, December 30, 2007

Flying, swimming or shrinking car?

Searching for a new car, I selected a few options: the flying, the auto nautical and the city car.

The Skycar. Photo by Bruce Calkins

Paul Moller has been working on his Icarus dream, the Skycar M400. Thanks to its four rotating engine nacelles, the skycare takes off, lands vertically and makes short flights. Apparently this latest prototype should be ready by 2009.

"Its performance exceeds that of any light helicopter, including a top speed that is three times faster. When compared to a high-performance airplane, the Skycar has vertical takeoff and landing capability, is safer and potentially less expensive. The performance boundaries of the Skycar are much less restrictive than those of both helicopters and airplanes. These expanded operating limits are the natural consequence of combining VTOL and high-speed cruise in a single aircraft. The resulting flexibility allows many transportation applications to be addressed for the first time."

The Aquada V6 175 ch, 160km/h on the road, 57km/h on water. Gibbs Technologies

The affordable auto nautical car, the Aquada, is an amphibian car. On the road it looks like a Mazda MX-5 and on water it turns into a jet-engine outboard with a cruising speed of 30 knots.

Finally, the super convenient city car. The research group smart cities at the MIT Media Lab has more than one model in stock. They have a car model, but I particularly like their retractable scooter concept.

"The RoboScooter is a lightweight, folding, electric motor scooter. It is designed to provide convenient, inexpensive mobility in urban areas while radically reducing the negative effects of extensive vehicle use – road congestion, excessive consumption of space for parking, traffic noise, air pollution, carbon emissions that exacerbate global warming, and energy use. It is clean, green, silent, and compact."

Scooter. Image by Michael Chia-Liang Lin

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Algorithmic film assembly using toy gestures

A new input device for video capturing and editing! Designed for young children, ages five and up, it allows them to craft compelling movies through the motion analysis of their interaction with toys.

A child playing with Picture This and his Naruto action figure

Continuing my research on perspective taking and tangible video editing, I recently finished the development of Picture This, a video editing and capturing device designed for young children. It allows them to craft compelling movies through the motion analysis of their interaction with toys. Children's favorite props alternate between characters and cameramen in a film. As children play with the toys to act out a story, they conduct algorithmic film assembly.

Picture This's web site.

In my prior work, Moving Pictures, I wanted to offer children the opportunity to gather imagery from their environment in the form of short video clips captured on video camera platforms modified for the application. I wanted to provide a transparent experience for the user, in which the cumbersome process of capturing and editing becomes fluid in the improvisation of a story and accessible as a way to create a final movie.

Web site for my past work on Moving Pictures.

Tangible interfaces combine operations on physical objects with digital data. I have sought to develop interfaces where either digital data can be overlaid onto physical objects in a display space or physical objects can act as handles into the digital space. The tangible handle is more than a marker or place-holder for digital data. It has the power to materialize and redefine our conception of space and content during the creative process.

If the toy had a visual perspective immediately accessible to the child, a new world would be opened to her. The toy could potentially bring the child into exploring visual and narrative perspectives of these character props, expanding her discovery and understanding of social interrelationships.

A video snippet of Picture This and a 6 minutes video for its interaction design.

The Picture this tool is an audiovisual device that combines two digital video cameras and two accelerometers. The tool captures motions, video and sound in real-time while an algorithmic video editing system composes a movie from these inputs. A motion based editing engine fluidly assembles the film as its story is being narrated, while respecting the conventions of continuity editing, namely, a sequence of shots that appear to be continuous.

This style of film editing is made possible in Picture This by detecting turn taking behaviors between the toys. Two toy props are augmented with video cameras and custom accelerometer hardware. They use the Picture This tool both as a doll hand-bag or a doll audiovisual recorder. The tool is flexible for a child to take the perspective of props she selected for her movie.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Cultural Chicago advertisement!

Icelandic Rift by new media artist Sabrina Raaf

Cultural Chicago is a community site for the arts based in Chicago. The online journal offers the possibility for readers to contribute with local cultural news. Among other things, it advertises Chicago artists, exhibitions, art events and allows readers to create a local community by sharing similar interests through a forum, regular posts and bookmarks. I wish such a journal existed in Boston. Combining the sharing of local art events with informative interviews to a social network is kind of unique.

Reading and subscribing to the journal, I discovered the spectacular work of Sabrina Raaf on creative machines capable of generating unique and unpredictable manifestations of art.

In her interview by Cultural Chicago, Sabrina Raaf explains:
"Technology (software and hardware) is not only a means or set of tools. It does also necessitate a type of logic-based thinking in order to use it and subvert it creatively. You really have to be a person who is innately fascinated by new technologies in order to be able to suffer through the learning curves and endless upgrades. But, ultimately, new technologies offer an endless string of more and more powerful and flexible tools to make art with. Even beyond that, they offer a new language to speak to viewers with; there are nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc., that artists haven’t ever strung together before in the service of art. And, that’s something really exciting."

Grower is a piece that responds to the carbon dioxide levels in the air generated by human breath. It draws individual blades of grass along a wall in varying heights in accordance to the amount of carbon dioxide present. As such it functions as a real time display on people attendance to the art space!

Dry Translator, a sculptural installation piece, is built in response to new trends in ‘smart architecture.’ Smart technology is being created for enhanced human interaction and control of one’s work and home environments. Interestingly what excites many is not the necessarily the enhancement of control, but really more the idea of intelligent responsiveness and heightened personal connection with the rooms they inhabit, dixit Sabrina Raaf.

In the journal I also enjoyed reading the interview of Colleen Plumb, Nature in Urban Spaces. The artist "examines nature in the urban environment, seeking to examine the relationship humans have with animals, how we coexist with the natural world, and the disappearance of it within the urban space."

Lobby with trees by Colleen Plumb

Being a video game addict at the same time than loving being lost in the countryside, I am always puzzled by criticism on a virtual reality that drives us from our physical reality. Reading this interview was refreshing and the following image by Colleen Plumb talks for itself. The overgrown tree squeezed within walls to provide a relief to humans, an experience of nature, recreated and artificial for the sake of us feeling/being connected to nature.


"We live in a time of games and virtual experiences which I find funny, sad, and, I guess, a reality. What effect could this be having on people? I guess representations are created due to a lack of the actual. We certainly can't walk through a forest of bamboo trees in downtown Chicago. It seems that almost real will suffice most of the time. It must provide relief, these fabrications, otherwise they would not be so popular: The Rainforest Café. Well, the trees here are real—they are in a fake habitat, a lobby, and seem to be thriving. - Colleen Plumb"

By Architectradure

A sponsored post of my favorite Japanese animes!


Anime are usually perceived either for children, teenagers or pervert adults. In fact, a lot of them are really good: cinematographically inspiring, with rich character development and epics stories. Each of them is a wellspring of interaction design ideas for innovative products. I find them refreshing. From Akira, Ghost in the Shell, to Blood: The Last Vampire. I cannot wait to watch Karas! A few manga series maintain these high standards with similar qualities.

It has been now a year that I started watching Bleach, a manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. In Bleach, a high school student, Ichigo, has the ability to see ghosts and interact with shinigami or death God. I absolutely adore the soul society made of handsome and complicated post-human characters.

The Quincy in Bleach.

I watched Death Note, an anime written by Tsugumi Ohba. A high school student decides to rid the world of evil with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. The shinigamis in Death Note resemble apocalyptic Goths. What strikes me in these anime is the ability the characters have, good and bad, to stick proudly to their initial moral values.

L, my favorite character in Death Note

I adored Noein, a short science fiction anime television series directed by Kazuki Akane and Kenji Yasuda. Two timespaces fight with one another: La'cryma, a possible future of our own universe, and Shangri'la, a dimension intent on the destruction of all space and time. The “dragon Torque”, the child version of a character from the future, is the key to stop Shangri'la's invasion.

Karasu in Noein

One Piece presents the adventures of “the Straw Hat Pirates”, formed and led by a captain named Monkey D. Luffy. The characters try to obtain the world's ultimate treasure, One Piece. With each character’s back-story, the adventures become entwined with one another.

One Piece

I am an anime fan. I saw fans gathering at conferences with splendid anime costumes. The Halloween Costumes' web site proposes a selection of characters costumes. I must say, I was disappointed by some of them, mainly by the feminine outfits. The Nico Robbin costume looks kind of tacky while she always appear to wear the latest couture piece in the anime!

On the contrary, the Bleach’s simple shinigami costumes are quite good. I had a good laugh at the execution ground outfit for Ichigo (from Bleach). Who would want to wear a broken arm outfit while he/she could enact the bankai form!

By Architectradure

Monday, December 10, 2007

I don't need a robot

Illustration by Dean Morris Graphic Designer as part of the Humor Show (1987), I don't need a robot for ID magazine nowadays would have a different message and could demonstrate the beauty of Coronamatic Typewriters. A little nostalgic?

By Architectradure

Video scenarios of tech-enabled behaviors

Mobility platform videos for Intel by Ideo.

Visualizing high-tech's human-centered future by Ideo.
Tapping into the growing broadband access around the world, Intel has innovated a series of chipsets and mobile platforms that enable smarter, more efficient laptops, mobile phones, and PDAs. While these offerings represent new possibilities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it's not uncommon for OEMs to need an added push to invest in unproven technology. To bring to life the potential of this technology, IDEO worked with Intel to visualize what user behaviors might be enabled by the offerings. The work, which culminated in the form of three videos, points to Intel's larger shift toward human-centered technology innovation.

In looking at Intel's next-generation products, IDEO had a clear sense of the emphasis on mobility. From a design perspective, the offerings were each exciting, offering new ways for people to live and work, but lacked the cohesion of a system. To integrate the platforms, IDEO developed user scenarios that merged product, interaction, and experience as they related to such behaviors as hands-free communication, social networking, and purchasing. These user scenarios were then fully storyboarded and scripted for video production.

In depicting user behaviors through video scenarios, IDEO created a unified vision for Intel's offerings that has served to foster alignment within Intel as well as to communicate product value to OEMs and service providers.

By Architectradure

Poetic chairs

I stumbled upon Stuhlhockerbank by Yvonne Fehling and Jennie Peiz. For a public use of architecture merging chair and stool into seat elements, the life of the sitting place becomes engraved in the artist' sculpture. The chairs are discombobulated.

By Architectradure

Friday, December 07, 2007

Children's toys

Toys always invite for reflection, but toys within the contemporary art context bring another dimension. I select these ones featured on Artnet.

I also author another blog that reflects this passion of mine!

Therapeutic children's toys by Renate Müller & Helene Haeusler, 1960.
Materials: Canvas, leather, wear

A 39cm high camel, a dice of 29.5 x 30 x 32 cm and an Hippopotamus of 35 x 75 x 34 cm.

Detail Song of the Finsh (The Bride) Jigsaw Puzzle by Isabel Samaras. The stories of Monsters and the mystical lives they lead ...

Benny and Red Bird Color Version by Kathy Olivas

(...) Many of the toys show a meticulous care in their creation; they are mechanically functional and cleverly conceived to move, lift or turn. I consider them to be truly remarkable in their abilities to function as well as being aesthetically pleasing. The enormous creative potential inherent in each piece became a challenge that I could not resist. Initially the toys were seen as individual objects, as the series developed, so did the thematic complexity. I did not realize that it would lead me on a journey of re-discovering my own childhood - Sidney Menkes

By Architectradure

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A special chandelier

Back from the ICA with Adam, I was struck by the work designer Tobias Wong a provocateur who creates the unexpected from the everyday and the everyday from the unexpected as he was being introduced during the exhibition, but I also think it is more than. What is so special about such art and craft work is to feel inspired in experiencing the work.

The object is special. It takes a refined sensitivity from the artist to make the careful design decisions exhibited by this piece. In the black shade chandelier, a classical design is made new by a switch between the form of the candelabra and the candle. These are two different objects, two different materials that create a single form in glass and insist on the simple mechanism of an oil lamp. These subtleties are the decisions that I love in this work.

In the exhibition was also presented the Disposable Crystal Cup, a sixteen-ounce paper cup printed with a trompe l’oeil crystal pattern. In this piece I felt Tobias Wong took the epidemic of the thrown away and juxtaposed it with the ultimate of luxury imagery.

Tobiad Wong also created this traditional crystal chandelier encapsulated in industrial white rubber

By Architectradure

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Transitional objects

Filet From the series Hommage au Sol - accesoires de prolongement du corps, objets transitionels de perception

Marie-Claire Bevar works with textiles, transforms them, adds all kinds of other materials to them, turns them into objects which has been her passion and necessity since childhood.

After collaborating both in trade and in theater, she decided to create objects as part of a personal introspection expressing itself through propositions evolving around the theme of the body. Both in Hommage au Sol and in L'Avant-Bras, Le Lien, Le Trait d'Union on one side and in Artextilabo, a laboratory of experimentations.


Hommage au Sol focuses around the foot and its relation to the ground. It includes accessories extending the body, transitory objects of perception, photos, videos and written documentation.


L'Avant-Bras, Le Lien, Le Trait d'Union is a work in progress. First she experimented with materials and techniques proper to the theme. A first series of objects were created, and now the artist is reflecting on them, furthering her research and figuring out how to stage them and present them to the public.

Chatting with Paulina on transitional objects made me revisit its classical roots. And what a pleasure to re-read Jerome Singer and his wife Dorothy's -authors of the awesome house of make believe book- fascinating journal paper from which I quote:

One possible route to the beginnings of the creation of miniaturized virtual realities by the very young may emerge in the course of older babies’ or toddlers’ manifestations of what the psychoanalyst, Winnicott (1971), termed involvement with “transitional objects.” Early on many children become attached to a soft cloth or to some combination of an old crib blanket and a “plush” toy, a cloth bunny rabbit, bear, or lamb. The well-known Peanuts’ cartoons’ youngest character, Linus, carries a worn blanket around all day and clings to it tenaciously. Such behavior generally meets those criteria of play developed in the research of Smith and Vollstedt (1985), nonliteralness and associated positive affect. Actually, one might propose that the tenacity with which children cling to these objects even as they fade in color, shrink or become ragged, may reflect the very beginnings of an experience of autonomy (“my blankie”) and personal ownership, a primordial expression of our nearly universal adult sense of private property upon which whole societies and legal systems are constructed.

In Singer, Jerome L. & Singer, Dorothy G. (2006). Preschoolers' imaginative play as precursor of narrative consciousness. Imagination, Cognition and Personality 25 (2):97-117.

By Architectradure

Monday, November 26, 2007

The mix tape business

A come back for the mix tape business. After the tape with style we have the regular tape packaging that hides a usb key.

My favorite part is the usb mix tape's advertisement:
Stores up to 1 hour of high quality digital music - the same amount as you get on a C60 cassette tape. Perfect for creating your own unique compilation or mix ‘tape’. When you have 60 minutes you have to think carefully about what you are going to put on there!

Is the idea that by constraining the potential of a product, users will carefully consider the potential being given? This is a bit sad.
Or is the idea that this product is super conceptual and needs to offer the same amount of 60 minutes of music that is usual in C60 cassette tapes? In that case there is a nostalgic connection, but no innovation. At the end I like the metaphor effort in it, but I prefer the possibility to uniquely tailor my tape with style. The tailoring of the tape could take advantage of online digital art communities such as Open Studio!

A link to cool looking cassette tapes.

By Architectradure

Birthday invasion

Today it is my birthday's invasion!

Bio Battery Powered By Sugar

4 prototype bio battery units connected to Walkman for playback

Following up on my previous post kinetic vs electric toys by Sony, Sony also developed a bio battery prototype that generates electricity from sugar, similar to the method used in living organisms. Sugar is a naturally occurring energy source produced by plants through photosynthesis. It is therefore regenerative, and can be found in most areas of the earth, underlining the potential for sugar-based bio batteries as an ecologically-friendly energy device of the future.

As humans breakdown food for energy, the battery would generate electricity by breaking down carbohydrates or sugars through the use of enzymes. Since sugar is a natural energy source, the bio battery would be an environmentally friendly choice as it would dramatically reduce disposal issues with disposable batteries used today.

Test cells have generated up to 50 milliwatts, which is the highest for a bio battery of this type according to Sony. Currently, it produces just enough to power music play back on a memory-type Walkman. Thank you Got 2 be green for the source!

Friday, November 23, 2007

An intelligent bar of soap!

The Bar of Soap, created by Michael Bove, Stacie Slotnick and Brandon Taylor at the MIT Media Laboratory, is a handheld device that recognizes how it is being held and adjusts its functionality accordingly. For instance if you want to make a phone call, just hold the bar of soap like a phone!

The device senses the pattern of touch and orientation when it is held, and reconfigures to become one of a variety of devices, such as phone, camera, remote control, PDA, or game machine. Pattern-recognition techniques allow the device to infer the user's intention based on grasp. We are now adding display surfaces across the entire device so that buttons and indicators can be created where needed for a particular mode.

A portent of human augmentation

Greasy Spoon, 2007 by Brian Walker

In our cyborg world, I think it would be nice if prosthesis could mean expanding human skills or on a contrary re-creating fragile and powerless human sculptures.

Examples of prostheses

  • Researchers explored the ability of the skin to acquire and process information rivaling our senses of sight and hearing. The e-skin lab researches on tactile interfaces consisting both of sensors and actuators: wearable artificial skins as a navigation aid in space.
  • The Rheo Knee made by Ossur adapts to an individual's walking style by detecting 1,000 times every second the knee's position and the load applied to the limb. The user gets the proper amount of resistance for every step.
    Via wired
  • Victhom's urinary implant, a catheter-free, fully implanted pacemaker for the bladder. If trials go well, it could help 800 million people worldwide with bladder dysfunctions caused by spinal cord injury.
  • Durom™ Hip Resurfacing a joint replacement system that offers "freedom" of movement.
  • The cyberhand gives amputees the ability to use thought to move and grasp naturally, even to feel whatever the device touches.
  • A nanotechnology developed at MIT can "knit" together damaged neurons. Researchers have already restored sight to rodents and they believe the technique might also help repair injured spinal cords
  • Penn State developed the first fully implantable artificial heart, and in 2000 AbloMed acquired rights to further develop the technology. It is FDA approved only for emergency use and the company hopes to have broader approval by 2008. Eventually, researchers hope it can be a long-term solution for heart failure patients.
  • Current research on technological prostheses by Hugh Herr -director of the bio mechatronics group at the MIT Media Laboratory- transforms the perception a person wearing a prosthesis has of his artificial body part. While the mechanical properties of conventional passive prostheses remain fixed with walking speed and terrain, this research explores the prosthesis not just as a passive object, but also as an extension of the body. The prosthesis enables additional mechanical energy for forward propulsion of an ankle as well as controlling the ankle joint impedance.
  • The rehabilitation institute of Chicago made a biohybrid arm that allows amputees to move the prosthetic by thought alone.
  • For patients who have lost the use of their arms, scientists at the Cleveland FES Center are developing functional electrical stimulation systems.
  • Harvard and Massachisetts General Hospital researchers are developing an implantable artificial electrolarynx communication system for patients who have had a complete laryngectomy. The technology includes a neural interface and hands-free control of a natural sounding voice prosthesis.
  • Advanced Bionics made a cochlear implant that sends sounds directly to the auditory nerve instead of amplifying sound like a regular hearing aid.
  • IIP technologies and Intelligent Medical Implants made a retinal implant that bridges and replaces the processing function of a defective retina. Using it some blind persons can regain partial vision and orientation, even in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • A silicon hippocampus replacement could eventually replace damaged areas of the brain. Currently being developed by scientists at the University of Southern California.
  • Cyberkinetics created Braingate, a neuroprosthetic system with a patch that attaches directly to neurons in the brain to sense electrical signals. The sensor sends signals that can move a computer cursor or flip a switch.
  • Living bacteria have been incorporated into an electronic circuit to produce a supersensitive humidity sensor. Similar devices could one day be made that take greater advantage of living organisms, perhaps even using bacteria's energy systems to power electrical devices. Via We make money not art.
  • Microsoft Research filed a patent on power and data transmission through the human body. The human body is used as a conductive medium, which distributes power and/or data by coupling a power source to the human body via a first set of electrodes. In this case, the body acts as a computer network.

    Don't forget to check out the insightful Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future

    The prosthesis is not a mere extension of the human body; it is the constitution of this body qua “human.”
    —Bernard Steigler,Technics and Time

    Natalie Portman by freaking news.

  • Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Toy or not toy exhibit

    An exhibition I should not have missed! Thankfully Etienne Mineur reported on it wonderfully: Toy Comix, an exhibition at the musée des Arts décoratifs.

    Modern mechanix

    Thank you Non stop robot!

    Serial robots

    Robots are making it in advertising! Hair cut and make up design by robots, Tiky Advertising, November 2007.

    Monday, November 19, 2007


    Contrasting delicate silhouettes with a massive robotic construction, this moving sculpture retro-projects goth-looking birds. Work by Jonathan Schipper and Amelia Biewald.

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    A love story

    Swarovski makes heart pendants that hide a computer key! A key to millions of love letters, pictures and all that, for a modest crystal price and that you can share between your neck and your laptop.