Creative agency LOLA Madrid designed and built a prototype bicycle constructed entirely out of with some components made of scrap auto parts, from a transmission belt used as the "chain" to a seat post clamp from a door handle. Bicycled (via Think Faest!)
(My independent research lab) Otherlab has recently received ARPA-e awards for two great projects in clean energy. ARPA-e is having a vote to have the best projects present at the ARPA-e showcase in a few weeks in Washington DC to get national exposure. We'd like to see both of these projects receive the attention they deserve to enable them to succeed as fast as possible.
You can vote for one, and in fact both, at the links below. Make sure to watch the intestine video beautifully drawn by Nick Dragotta and narrated by Tucker Gilman.
An incredibly labor-intensive animated flipbook version of PSY's "Gangnam Style." Such a bummer that Etoilec1, the talented creator of this stunning video, was sound-blocked by YouTube's automated IP enforcement police. Etoilec1's original video is here (and below), in higher rez, but it's stripped of sound. Subscribe to his channel or follow him on Facebook, for more flipbook fun. Above, a lower-rez copycat upload on Vimeo. (Thanks, Joe Sabia!)
Like TMBGs original Dial-A-Song, the app has a different song every day. The app holds five of the freshest posted tracks at all times, and all are directly linked to iTunes. It also connects you directly to TMBGs social media and free MP3 club. From Don't Let's Start to Nanobots the app even includes brand new tracks, GRAMMY-winning kids music and TMBGs beloved television themes.
University of Florida grad student Andrew Gray built the Bird Buggy for his parrot to drive around the house. "When it's time to put the bird away, Bird Buggy is able to dock itself to a base station utilizing a web camera," Gray says. (Thanks, Sean Ness!)
Industrial design student Paulo Goldstein's "Repair is Beautiful" project is about fixing boring broken products like lamps, headphones, and chairs with unusual bits of detritus such as string, metal odds-and-sodds, and even bone. The results are provocative, beautiful, and gloriously overwrought. "Repair is Beautiful" (Thanks, Jason Tester!)
Ashley Gilreath created this remarkable necklace from tiny photos of her ancestors. "I casted dollhouse frames from sterling silver and bronze, and printed my family directly onto the glass," she says. "I Am Who They Were." (Thanks, Lindsay Winterhalter!)
I gave "Ball of Whacks" to my 6-year-old son as a Hanukkah gift and I wish I'd have given it to myself. It reminds me a bit of Rubik's Snake but it's much more free-form and fun as the individual blocks aren't permanently connected but rather held together by 180 rare earth magnets. The blocks fit together in a 30-sided rhombic triacontahedron and can be recombined into animals, stars, and other geometric wonders. The Ball of Whacks comes with a guidebook suggesting lots of neat configurations, creativity exercises, and tips but we haven't bothered with that yet. It's addictive without any instruction. Ball of Whacks is available in red, blue, black, and multi-color which is what I, er, my son, was given. Maybe next we'll go for Von Oech's X-Ball, Y-Ball, or Star Ball magnet toys! Ball of Whacks
Amateur astronomer Ellen Harding Baker of Cedar County, Iowa made this stunning solar system quilt in 1876. The quilt is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. From the Smithsoian's History Explorer:
Ellen used the quilt as a visual aid for lectures she gave on astronomy in the towns of West Branch, Moscow, and Lone Tree, Iowa. Astronomy was an acceptable interest for women in the nineteenth century and was sometimes even fostered in their education.
Allan Chochinov of the new MFA Products of Design, alerted me to the work of one of his students, Richard Clarkson. It's called The Cloud.
The project is an Arduino-controlled “cloud” that mimics thunder and lighting, and doubles as a dynamic audio visualizer. I think the work is both poetic and remarkable, and can be interpreted along a broad spectrum of “products of design.” Richard sees the piece as an exploration of different design platforms—from a DIY kit (he shares the Arduino code on the link) to a production lamp to a speculative object to a piece of rarefied design art. He looked at several analogous price points -- from free to exclusive -- all the while offering up the plans for others to grow the project with. I’m impressed that Richard was able to hit all these notes with a single piece of work.
The wirelessly remote-controlled Transform Robot took some ten years to develop, and includes wireless internet connected cameras for remote monitoring, and the ability to steer its arms and shoot little plastic darts from them.
Earlier this month, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design kindly brought me out to meet with grad students and attend the annual MCAD Art Sale where I was happily overwhelmed with a fantastic collection of student and recent graduates' work at affordable prices. Within minutes of walking in, I was drawn to two pieces at opposite ends of the building. The first was a painting created by a CNC milling machine outfitted with a pen. (That painting and its brethren in the series will be the subject of a later post here.) The second piece is what you can see above, the Shellphone Loudspeaker. Amazingly, it turned out that both the CNC painting and the Shellphone were created by the same young artist/designer/maker, Andrew Vomhof. The Shellphone Loudspeaker, made by Andrew with collaborator Karl Zinsmaster, is absolutely wonderful and I purchased one immediately. It's a real Whelk shell hand-carved to perfectly sit an iPhone (4 or 5). The shell acts as a natural amplifier for the iPhone's speakers.
Now, this thing doesn't come close to the output of powered speakers. Duh. But it does increase the volume quite a bit and layers the sound with a subtly echoey and organic vibe. But that isn't really the point. It's a wonderful curiosity at the intersection of nature, art, and technology. And it's beautiful to boot. Vomhof and Zinsmaster have launched a Kickstarter to bring their prototype design into full production. Pledge $60 and, if they hit their goal of $10,000, you'll receive your own Shellphone Loudspeaker early next year.