Friday, May 30, 2008

Physical Heart in a Virtual Body

My friend Amit Zoran, from the Ambient Intelligence group at MIT Media Lab, continued his work on structural innovation, re-designing acoustic musical instrument according to the abilities and characteristics of rapid prototype materials. Together with Pattie Maes and Marco Coppiardi, they created a new generation of physical instruments by tailoring wooden hearts. The wooden pieces are inserted in body of the guitar to give the instrument the desired sound identity.

Watch the video of the resonator ->here<-


Amit changing the physical heart of his guitar

can traditional values be embedded into a digital object? in this project we implement a special guitar that combines physical acoustic properties with virtual capabilities. The acoustical values will be embodied by a wooden heart - a unique, replaceable piece of wood that will give the guitar a unique acoustic sound. The acoustic signal created by this wooden heart will be digitally processed in a virtual sound box in order to create flexible sound design.


His research will be presented at Nime 2008 this summer.
His paper is ->here<-
His presentation is ->here<-


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Imprint digital functions onto common everyday physical objects

Amphibian allows users to easily imprint digital functions onto common everyday physical objects. Amphibian is a low cost, low infrastructure system that enables users to choose their own physical objects and imprint onto them almost any standard interface functions that take place on a GUI desktop. The goal of Amphibian is to create a system that the common user can implement and operate so that we may learn more about the digital-physical object relationships people will form.

So basically, you take an object, put it on the amphibian scale, and it labels it automatically for you. You can associate data to that object through the Amphibian user interface. Anytime you want to retrieve the data associated with that object, you just put it back on the scale. As for applications, you can play music from your itunes library with forks and spoons, you can write am email by composing with color pens, e.g. a red pen on the Amphibian scale and you say "I miss you!". A very unique take on labeling objects!

You can download the software for free ->here<- with all the instructions on how to DIY!


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Calculator and simulator of loans

I am thinking of getting a house and I am looking into options to get it right. Because I have never done it before, I ask a tone of questions around me about how to do an amortization for the loan. To get an idea on how to pay it over the course of the years is very hard, because there are so many parameters to take in consideration. I found this great tool that I recommend to everyone who is in my situation. A cool interface with a simulator that works as a loan calculator for getting to know how you can reimburse a house over the course of the years.

It is just a calculator but takes into account Purchase price, Down payment, Mortgage term, Interest rate, Property tax, Property insurance, PMI, First payment date. You can then show the Amortization per month or per year. It does not offer any third party loan recommendation neither does it give an average of interests for specific loans, but it is a pretty neat free tool if you want a reality check on the next thing you buy. I have never found a sophisticated free calculator with such a clean interface. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Electro plushy

ElectroPlushies are a set of anthropomorphic plush electronics components consisting of a switch, battery, resistor, LED, and buzzer. Each component has a personality reflecting their functionality. Each component contains the actual electronics component and can be connected with magnetic snaps at the ends of flexible arm leads. Definitely a toy of the year idea!

Watch the video of the project presentation ->here<- plushy.jpg

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

The iRing

The iRing, designed by Victor Soto, is the concept of a Ring that controls the Playback functionality of your iPod/iPhone device and this ... wirelessly!


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Independent media via telephone

Dialup Radio is a tool that distributes human rights and independent media via telephone. Brief radio-style audio files are uploaded and managed via the Dialup Radio website. These files are immediately available to callers who phone the project phone number. The software automatically generates interactive voice response (IVR) menus that enable callers to navigate audio content using their telephone keypads. Dialup radio works with any telephone, and can be adopted for a variety of activist campaigns.

Dialup Radio has been designed specifically to meet the needs of human rights activists in the developing world. The system can be installed locally or may be operated across national borders. Particular attention has been paid to system security and to minimizing costs of operation.

You can play with the demo ->here<-


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Health-Obsessed Robot for Health Obsessives

After leaving us for London, Daisy Ginsberg now designs health obsessed robots at RCA! Daisy uses her Bio Spy concept to express that we develop irrational relationships with machines, mourning dead appliances or resisting unfamiliar replacements. How will we behave when robots are trusted with the most intimate moments of our personal lives? Will the master/slave relationship survive? Is symbiosis with a robot possible? And what are the consequences of offering our most personal data for surveillance? Her questions remind me of my post on jealous computers and the 80's electric dreams movie, with a special RCA's touch!


For the hypochondriac, the BioSpy offers reassuring constant health surveillance, removing the nagging fear of illness. But would such a health aid induce unhealthy behaviour? The user and robot develop obsessive mutual dependence: the user only feels healthy when accompanied by the robot, sharing her most intimate information with it. Meanwhile, recording, storing and analyzing every physical change 24/7, the robot is dependent on its user's health for its existence.


After a period of domestic harmony, the robot captures data that indicates serious illness. ‘Fearful’, it mirrors its user's own neurosis. It logically computes that if it records any more data, it might ultimately result in unplugging. The robot’s erratic behaviour confuses the owner – is it behaving autonomously or malfunctioning? Is the user really ill or is it imagined?

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Human Space Invaders

Who does not remember Space Invaders, one of the very first video-games? With your spaceship, your task was to defend the Earth against squadrons of invaders coming from outer space... Well the Human Space Invaders is the second video performance of the Game Over project, directed by Guillaume Reymond.


For the project 67 people sat for almost 4 hours in the theatre of the Espace Nuithonie. After they received colour t-shirts, they simulated the pixels of the game. For each of the 390 pictures, these human pixels moved or not, from one seat to another, following the specific rules they had been given according to their role (canon, spaceship, missile, bunker,...). All photographs were then put together into a short animation movie.

Check also the Tetris, Pole Position and Human Pong!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Friday, May 16, 2008

Living in a robot


Victor Vetterlein
's Reboot is a self-sufficient and eco-friendly house. The building is constructed with a space frame, and the outer skin increases structural strength through double curvature. The skin system consists of a vapor barrier, dense foam insulation, and metal sheathing where the exterior face is glazed in solar cell paint. The surface of the building serves as a solar energy collector.


Supplemental electricity is provided by on-site wind turbines and energy is stored in batteries on Deck 1. Wind power is also used to pressurize a large canister to operate the hydraulic elevator and the water treatment system. The smooth outer skin of the building acts as a foil against adverse weather conditions, and the rooftop serves as a water collection surface where rainwater runs into a drain located above the resin laminated glass windows. The water is stored in holding tanks positioned below the Main Deck and managed by an in-house water treatment system on Deck 2. Natural ventilation is provided by operable vents located at the top and the bottom of the structure. Lastly, the building’s mechanical systems are stacked on two floors above the Ground level eliminating the need for massive ground penetrations and a large site footprint.

See also his robotic furniture design!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A stackable electric city vehicle

I had previously posted on cars that fly, swim or shrink. I mainly referred to the retractable scooter that Bill Mitchell showed us at the Media Lab Open House'08. It is an impressive piece of gear that I cannot wait to get!


However the city car is pretty neat as well ...
City car

The City Car is designed by the smart cities group at MIT Media lab directed by Prof. Mitchell. The project is created by Ryan Chin, Wayne Higgins, Mitchell Joachim, Will Lark, Raul-David "Retro" Poblano, Peter Schmitt, Andres Sevtsuk and Franco Vairani at MIT.

The City Car is the coolest idea: a stackable electric city vehicle for use in dense urban areas! Vehicle Stacks will be placed throughout the city to create an urban transportation network that takes advantage of existing infrastructure such as subway and bus lines. By placing stacks in urban spaces and key points of convergence, the vehicle allows the citizens the flexibility to combine mass transit effectively with individualized mobility. The stack receives incoming vehicles and electrically charges them. Similar to luggage carts at the airport, users simply take the first fully charged vehicle at the front of the stack. The City car is NOT a replacement for personal vehicles, taxis, buses, or trucks; it is a NEW vehicle type that promotes a socially responsible and more effective means of urban mobility!

I looked at the process and strategy used by Will Lark, one of the researcher working on this project. He studies and constructs physical representations of architectural details of varying sizes and materials, then apply shape grammar rules for new geometry generation. His strategy is to use the software CATIA, a parametric modeling CAD program, used to design the complex geometry. The shapes are then fabricated through various media: 3D rapid prototyping, 2D rapid prototyping with 3D assembly, and full manual construction. Comparisons are then made between the automated and manual construction.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All you can eat!

... and you can eat even more!


In the spirit of eating your keyboard, your pencils, eating candies in the form of pills, drinking latte with laser printed patterns, up to making coded silverware ... the field of food products is quite large by now!

I recently found a tie that is made of breakfast cereals by Bryony Birkbeck. The artist proposes a series of eatable ties exploring the redundancy of the tie in modern society by giving the garment a new set of functions!


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crayons en chocolat / Chocolate pencils


Following up on the work of Oki Sato (at Nendo), I found these chocolate pencils in his earliest work (2007). Nendo collaborated with patissier Tsujiguchi Hironobu, the mastermind behind popular dessert shops like Mont St. Claire and Le Chocolat de H. So these pencils must be delicious indeed!!!

The process: Tsujiguchi created a new dessert based on his impression of Nendo after their conversations, and the designers proposed new tableware for them, including plates presenting the the beauty of meals and desserts like a painting on a canvas, thus the creation of the chocolate pencils.

Interaction: The "chocolate pencils" come in a number of cocoa blends that vary in intensity, and chocophiles can use the special "pencil sharpener" that comes with the designed plate to grate chocolate onto their dessert. Pencil filings are usually the unwanted remains of sharpening a pencil, but in this case, they're the star!

Check also the chocolate keyboard!

Chocolat +

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Monday, May 12, 2008

Portable Life Size Camera Obscura

Passionate about photography, I am excited about this project, the perfect portable camera obscura designed by Allison Roberts also discovered on Zones of Emergency.

Capturing large format pictures is the dream in photography. Making a lightproof "tent" to captures the life-size outdoor is a fantastic idea. Allison explains that this is meant as a solution for an urban gardener to still be able to have a greenhouse, or simply anyone else who wishes to do indoor gardening: this portable alternative to a permanent grow room can be assembled in about 25 minutes without any tools! Once assembled, you have an indoor greenhouse that is completely sealed and virtually light proof.


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

DIY videos by young artists

New Urban Arts is a nationally recognized interdisciplinary arts studio for high school students and emerging artists that promotes youth voice, collaboration, and self-directed learning toward a lifelong creative practice. It provides studio, exhibition space, and mentoring for young artists who explore the visual, performing, and literary arts through yearlong free out-of-school programs. Founded in 1997, New Urban Arts serves 125 high school students in the Providence Public High Schools and 15 artists each year. They have been named one of fifty premiere arts and youth development programs in the country for four consecutive years.

Discovered on Zones of Emergency, New Urban Arts offers online videos for DIY explorations. For instance How to Screenprint? How To Sew A Ruffle? or How to make a silicone Mold (below):

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy mother's day

... to all mothers and mothers of mothers of mothers!

By Wikipedia:

In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was imported by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. However, it was intended as a call to unite women against war. In 1870, she wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.

When Jarvis died in 1907, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on 10 May 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Originally the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, this building is now the International Mother's Day Shrine (a National Historic Landmark). From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A chair to peel

A chair to peel
The Cabbage Chair, 2008

Nendo designed the cabbage chair for XXIst Century Man exhibition curated by Issey Miyake to commemorate the first anniversary of 21_21 Design Sight in Roppongi, Tokyo.

Miyake asked the designers to make furniture out of the pleated paper that is produced in mass amounts during the process of making pleated fabric, and usually abandoned as an unwanted by-product. The designers' solution to his challenge transformed a roll of pleated paper into a small chair that appears naturally as you peel away its outside layers, one layer at a time.


Resins added during the original paper production process adds strength and the ability to remember forms, and the pleats themselves give the chair elasticity and a springy resilience, for an overall effect that looks almost rough, but gives the user a soft, comfortable seating experience.

Photo by Masayuki Hayashi

Since the production process is so simple, the designers thought that eventually, the chair could be shipped as one compact roll for the user to cut open and peel back at home. The chair has no internal structure. It is not finished, and it is assembled without nails or screws. This primitive design responds gently to fabrication and distribution costs and environmental concerns, the kinds of issues that face our 21st century selves. Thus, the cabbage chair fits active, optimistic and forward-moving "21st century people", the kind of people who, to borrow a concept Miyake expressed during a meeting with Nendo, "don't just wear clothes, but shed their skin".

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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Friday, May 09, 2008


The aim of Biojewellery is to strike up a range of relationships with an audience over the issues that surround biotechnology, tissue engineering in particular. The collaboration is between a core team of a bioengineer and two designers. By using an invasive medical procedure to procure cells the creators of Biojewellery are then manipulating these living organisms to produce designed objects.

A model of the ring using a combination of cow marrow-bone and etched silver. The inscription reads Ab Intra, "from within".

Tissue engineering is one element of scientific study, which is beginning to have a profound effect on how disease and physical disorders are treated. What are the implications of medical research and how do we introduce the issues surrounding them? Creative responses perform a critical function in terms of challenging/raising public awareness, whilst engaging with the technologies themselves to create new methods of producing work. Biojewellery uses the device of a recognizable social custom to open a debate about new medical technology.


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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