Archive for the ‘plastic’ tag
Many new mixing bowls and serving dishes come with convenient plastic covers but if yours do not you can quickly make easy and good looking covers as a sewing project. More »
OpenROV, a mini submarine developed in a Silicon Valley garage, has been hailed by the world’s media as the key to unlocking the earth’s last frontier.
No pressure, or anything.
The 20-something creators, David Lang (pictured, above) and Eric Stackpole, did not anticipate that their open-source robot would infatuate the press or be viewed as the low-cost alternative to subs like the Deep Sea Challenger, which took filmmaker, James Cameron, to the deepest, darkest recesses of the western Pacific.
“At the outset, we thought this might be a great project to discover underwater caves that are too small for divers,” said Lang when I met up with him at open-access workshop TechShop in San Francisco, where he and Stackpole make their parts. “Our ideas for what we wanted to use it for were dwarfed by the community.”
It’s still early days, but OpenRov is already being used by environmentalists and marine archeologists to discover shipwrecks in Cuba, spotlight pollution in the high seas, and by treasure hunters to look for gold in unchartered waters. In November, Stackpole will be headed to Antarctica as an under-ice pilot in a larger-scale, commercial grade ROV.
“We don’t want to be the wealthiest mini sub builders in the world,” said Lang. ”Our goal is to have a high return on adventure.”
On popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, OpenROV took on a life of its own and far exceeded its funding goal by netting $111,622 from 484 backers.
It didn’t hurt that Stackpole was profiled by the New York Times’, and OpenROV was credited for its potential to transform underwater exploration.
Lang told me no one has used OpenROV to successfully discover any buried treasure in the ocean’s depths, yet.
The founders’ singular focus is to keep up with the demand for the kits. At TechShop, Lang and Stackpoke laser cut electronic material and plastic and hand-pack and mail the kits. Lang told me that the most common purchasers are tinkerers and hobbyists, who add their own flourishes like robotic arms, payload equipment, and additional cameras.
The TechShop chain is a recent addition to the Bay Area, and is a paradise for hardware geeks. For $100 per month, anyone can access high-tech equipment such as 3-D printers. Classes taught at one of the TechShop hacker spaces include Welding 101, and are available for a few extra dollars. At TechShop, Lang learned how to build robots and work with machines in less than six months.
The basic prototype has been through 35 iterations and is designed to be portable and cheap. At the basic level, its open-source, remotely operated robot that can be deployed underwater and navigated in 3D using software from Autodesk.
The little robot is elegantly simple, but the real innovation is its inexpensive parts. OpenROV is available for $750, and anyone with a knack for DIY can use it to scale the depths of the ocean, as far as 100 meters.
But if you want an underwater robot of your own, you’ll need to be a dab hand with a soldering iron, as the robot is sold in a kit filled with parts.
To keep tabs on how the robot is being used, the pair launched a company blog and discussion forum. It is already proving to be a powerful tool for small-town environmentalists.
OpenROV can be fitted with video equipment to highlight the pile-up of junk in lakes and ponds. It can go in tiny crevices, where a diver can’t. One user found new evidence of plastic pollution in the unchartered, murky depths of a seabed.
“At a tiny un-touristed cove in southern Maine, I’m finding hundreds — sometimes thousands — of bits of plastic wreckage washing up weekly,” he wrote.
At TechShop, where Lang spends the bulk of his time, he tells me that these findings are the tip of the iceberg for OpenROV. “Our story is just the beginning,” said Lang, who animatedly points out a number of other cool projects that are in development.
“We do know that deep sea exploration, space exploration, drones, 3-D printing are now something that anyone can do,” he said.
If the sandwiches you take to work or school end up being a soggy mess give this method by Reddit user kitten_suplex a try: place your bread at the bottom of a reusable food container, cover with plastic cling wrap, and then add your sandwich toppings. More »
It’s a little known fact that Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics is missing a law: The robot shall be able to do Tai Chi. Thankfully, there’s the Hovis Eco, a tiny, plastic-clad humanoid robot by Dongbu Robot.
The robots cost $900 for the plastic clad version (the Eco) and $730 for the more barebones model below. They are programmable and can move and dance at your command. You can check them out here.
You can upgrade your wee fellows with servos, a new head unit, and optional sensors. The Eco weighs about four pounds and is 16 inches tall. Almost a thousand smackers is a little much for a little robot that can do martial arts moves, but who knows – maybe you can teach it to bring you a beer or something.
Using recycled materials in the creation of a new product can imbue it with a sense of time or place, a fact Portuguese company House of Wonders used to their advantage with their furniture made from old sailing vessels. Now, UK-based Studio Swine has produced the Sea Chair, a stool made entirely of waste reclaimed from the sea.
Comprised of Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves, Studio Swine worked with fellow designer Kieren Jones in building a sluice-like contraption that is able to separate bits of plastic from other materials. The team used the machine to collect people-produced waste from the shores of the UK, which was then filtered to remove the smaller bits of material, such as seaweed, that was picked up by the device. This organic material is then used as biofuel for melting down the reclaimed plastic, which is then poured into a basic mould to produce the Sea Chair. A tag is then added marking the geographical location where its materials were sourced.
This process benefits the environment by ridding oceans of plastic waste, which can be detrimental to sealife and eventually to humans due to the fact the material absorbs hydrophobic chemicals when broken down, increasing the toxicity levels of the sea and the fish which may be later eaten. Secondly, if the process could be developed further as the design practice hopes it can, more furniture could be made in this eco-friendly fashion.
The first Sea Chairs were shown at the Milan Furniture Fair 2012, although prices for the piece are currently unknown. Could you help Studio Swine grow this business idea further?
Samsung’s Galaxy is bigger, lighter, and has a plastic back. Apple’s iPhone 4s is smaller, heavier, and has a glassy/metallic back. But these differences didn’t stop Susan Kare, the designer of the original Mac icon set, from confusing the two.
And it happened while she was comparing the two smartphones when prepping for her expert witness testimony for the Apple-Samsung lawsuit.
Kare helped create the iconic look and feel of the original Mac. So she should know a thing or two about design … and she should be adept at reading a design language … the hard-to-define but very real visual personality of a product or brand.
And yet she confused the two products, according to her testimony today in court.
Presumably, Kare was fooled by the home screen on some of the older Samsung models, where the design language is indeed somewhat similar to Apple’s iOS:
Similarities include a top bar for utility icons and time, an icon grid four across and potentially five down, and of course the home icons at the bottom, resting on a shelf or different colored background.
Newer Samsung Galaxy S3s, on the other hand, are almost always portrayed in official Samsung promo shots with only a few icons and fewer obvious similarities:
Testimony like Kare’s is dangerous for Samsung since the jury may, according to intellectual property expert Peter Toren, simply eyeball the two options when making a decision:
While design patents are litigated far less frequently than utility patents, and many companies do not even seek design patent protection, infringement of a design patent may be far easier for a jury to understand. A design patent protects only the ornamental appearance of an invention, not its utilitarian features. The general test for infringement for a design patent is relatively simple: Does the alleged infringer’s product design appear substantially the same as the patentee’s design?
While a patentee can buttress its evidence of the similarity of designs through the testimony, for example, of industry observers, consumers, and business partners, jurors can use their own eyes for a side-by-side comparison and decide for themselves if the products look substantially the same. It certainly does not depend on understanding highly complex technical matters.
The implication that Apple lawyers are doubtless attempting to insinuate in the jury’s mind: If a designer cannot tell the difference herself … how can the average person?
Of course, Samsung may well feel that Kare originally worked for Apple may have some influence on her impressions.
Image credit: Yuri Arcours/ShutterStock
Here’s another good example of speculative design. Elie Ahovi imagines gigantic semi-autonomous underwater drones collecting vast amounts of oceanic plastic in gigantic nets.
Looks like a toy, but imagine it at scale:
Plastic-Eating Underwater Drone Could Swallow the Great Pacific Garbage Patch via Popular Science
A new underwater drone concept could seek and destroy one of the ocean’s most insidious enemies, while earning a profit for plastics recyclers. This marine drone cansiphon plastic garbage, swallowing bits of trash in a gaping maw rivaling that of a whale shark.
Industrial design student Elie Ahovi, who previously brought us the Orbit clothes washer concept, now presents the Marine Drone, an autonomous electric vehicle that tows a plastic-trapping net. The net is surrounded by a circular buoy to balance the weight of the garbage it collects. It discourages fish and other creatures from entering its jaws via an annoying sonic transmitter, and it communicates with other drones and with its base station using sonar.
This design forces us to consider the implications of the plastic in the ocean, since the designed object changes the possible costs of cleaning the ocean. If it is no longer impossible — or no longer too costly — to clean the ocean, how much are we willing to pay? A $100M a year for 10 years? 20 years?
I hope that this design sparks a real discussion, and not just another TED inspirational moment where we see a cool idea, and then turn back to the status quo, satisfied that in some techno-utopian future smart technologists like Elie Ahovi will save us, even when our leaders hopelessly fail to even address the issues, let alone solve them.
We’re not living in some Independence Day movie, where two guys can steal a hot-rod space ship, do a drive-by, and save the day. We need speculative designers to force the discussion by creating imaginary appliances that can break through the logjam, and get real discussions going, and then real actions taken.
I for one think that we should have NOAA start an Oceans Clean-Up program, a long-term project to get the plastic and other garbage out of the oceans, and we should fund it just like the Mars Lander program, which has been given $2.5B.
Instead of turning your compost pile with a shovel or pitchfork you can build a tumbling composter that will automatically turn and aerate your materials to help form a rich compost. Commercially tumbling composters can be expensive, but if you have access to large plastic drums you can make one or more tumblers on the cheap. More »
A heartwarming new video documents the story of a small child whose life has been radically changed for the better because of 3D printing technology.
Two-year-old Emma was born with a rare disease called arthrogryposis that makes it so she can’t raise her arms without assistance. Through the use of 3D printing, Delaware hospital created a mobile plastic exoskeleton that now allows Emma to use her arms for many things.
3D printing ensures that a new exoskeleton can be created if Emma breaks or outgrows it. Emma is now on her second 3D-printed jacket and calls the device her “magic arms.”
Filed under: offBeat
The Kuratas Mecha robot is an art/aspirational nerd project by Suidobashi Heavy Industry. This full-sized Mech robot features a ride-in cockpit, “rocket” launchers, and a “smile controlled” BB Gatling gun. That’s right: when you smile, this thing unleashes thousands of tiny plastic BBs.
Unveiled at Wonder Fest 2012 in Tokyo, you can control the robot with either a set of master-slave joysticks or using a more fluid Kinect interface. It runs something called the V-SIDO (Bushido) OS and includes touchscreen support inside the cockpit as well as 3G wireless connectivity so you can control it via phone.
You can “price out” your own Mech here but rest-assured you won’t be able to drive one of these off the lot any time soon. It’s a one-off project and, as cool as it is, it only moves at about 10KM per hour.
There are some who are suggesting this is CG but considering the AFP/Getty picked up some photos of it, it looks about as real as you can get.