Category Archives: Videos

This system lets you experience the hidden politics of networks in everyday products


Politics of Power explores how a mass-manufactured products could behave differently depending on the nature of its communication protocol. 


If the U.S. presidential election took place tomorrow, and only power strips were running, at least we would now still have a choice of candidates and political ideologies. Shunning the two party system, design consultancy Automato has decided to create a three types of power strips, each with its own method of distributing electricity.

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“With a growing number of networked and autonomous objects as well as the outbreak of fields such as ‘the IoT,’ communication protocols used by connected products are increasingly important as they act as the network’s backbone. Since the end product is ‘black-boxed’ to the user, we often assume that all nodes of a network are equal,”the team writes. “But is it? For example, in a home, two appliances in the same network must be working at the same time, but because of a power shortage, they cannot run in parallel. This bring us to question, who should be given the priority and why?”

Politics of Power is an exploration into these questions on a micro-scale by employing a simple ubiquitous gadget, the multi-plug. These power structures include the generally democratic and physically circular “Model D,” featuring five plugs all running at 220V. In this system, a delegate (socket) is elected and it’s power grows until it’s unplugged. “Model M” is somewhat more repressive, with one plug running at 220v, two plugs at 180v, and three plugs at 110v.

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Finally, the “Model T” power strip is most repressive, with one one plug running at 220v, while the other four have to be content with 5V. They protest their situation at times by blinking power on an off, however the leader can shut power off to them if it so chooses. It is noted that this strip can turn into a “Model D” if the leader is taken out of the equation, though one might suspect another socket would rise to power in a violent power grab.

Politics aside, these power strips are controlled by an Arduino Pro Micro (ATmega32U4), with a phase detector to sense changes in current. Meanwhile, a TRIAC gate circuit is used to control the power output to the sockets.

The whole setup is quite interesting, both visually and as a social commentary. This project offers a simplified way of looking at what’s at stake in debates over net neutrality, peer-to-peer networks, encryption backdoors and other modern-day controversies. And as smart devices continue to emerge throughout our daily, it certainly makes us wonder: Who’s actually in charge of making the decisions? Meaning, what are some of the hidden rules, structures and logic behind products such as power strips that were often thought of as being ‘neutral?’ You can see the results in the video below.

[h/t Creative Applications]

 

This machine can solve the Rubik’s Cube in just 0.887 seconds


And just like that, we have a new world record! 


With their eyes set on the Guinness Book, Jay Flatland and Paul Rose last month unveiled an automated machine capable of solving a Rubik’s Cube in 0.9 seconds. However, their glory was short-lived as fellow Maker and industrial engineer Adam Beer introduced a robotic contender, named Sub1, that has officially sorted the colorful puzzle in only 0.887 seconds — breaking the previous world record by a mere fraction.

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Beer’s machine only requires 20 moves to unravel the cube. As soon as the start button is hit, shutters are removed from Sub1’s two webcams, each of which capture the arrangement of all six sides. These images are then relayed to a laptop, which identify the various colors and calculate a solution using Tomas Rokicki’s implementation of Herbert Kociemba’s Two-Phase Algorithm.

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The solution is sent over to an Arduino-compatible MCU, which is tasked with actuating the 20 moves of six high-performance steppers that rapidly turn each side of the cube in 887 milliseconds.

Despite Beer’s recent accomplishment, we can’t help but think that the two teams and countless other Makers will be eager to see how quickly they can unravel the Rubik’s Cube as well.

Hate clapping? Simone Giertz’s latest machine is for you


Let’s give this project a round of applause! 


Guess who’s back with another robotic solution to yet another problem. Simone Giertz, of course! Any of us who’ve ever had to sit through a graduation ceremony, an hour-long presentation, a tennis match, a ballet recital or a political debate know all too well how annoying having to constantly give an applause can be.

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So, as part of her aptly named “There Must Be A Better Way” series, the frequent YouTuber and Maker has developed an automated applause machine. Why? Because “clapping your own hands is tiresome and a cruel practice.”

For the mechanism itself, Giertz employed a pair of kitchen tongs and attached a metal spring below the grippers, then put an oval-shaped DC motor between the two arms. This way, when the motor spins, it forces the tongs to open and close, creating a clapping motion.

“For the machine’s hands, I wanted to find a pair that would create the most realistic clapping sound possible. So I bought four different types of plastic hands from a party-supply store. After some experimentation, I decided that hollow hands made of rigid plastic created the best noise. I fastened them to the tongs’ grippers with small bolts,” the Maker explains.

The machine was brought to life using no other than an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) connected to a MOSFET, housed inside a laser-cut base. What’s more, a slider was added to the front of the device to control the speed. According to Giertz, she can now gradually adjust the applause from a “snarky slow clap” to a “breakneck 330 claps per minute.”

Admittedly, this may be one of her best, most practical and well-polished projects yet. We love it! Now how ‘bout a round of applause for Giertz?! You can watch the future of clapping hands below, as well as read her recent write-up in Popular Science here.

HydroMorph turns splashing water into an interactive display


This MIT team has created what they call a water “membrane” that can shift shapes instantly.


A team from MIT’s Tangible Media Group has discovered a new way to turn splashing water into an interactive display, exploiting the same phenomena you’ve experienced if you ever ran a spoon under a faucet.

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Using a series of actuators and sensors placed under a stream of water, HydroMorph is able to change the shapes that result whenever water splashes onto the surface of the device, creating what they call a “dynamic spatial water membrane” that can shift from a flower to a flapping bird to an interactive countdown timer.

“HydroMorph gives a life to water, giving it a voice through its shape change. We envision a world filled with living water that conveys information, supports daily life, and captivates us,” the team writes.

Aside from the water-shaping device, the system is comprised of a computer, a camera, an Arduino (ATmega328), and a water source. As the stream hits the device, various shapes are created based on the actuation data sent from software on the computer through the MCU. The camera, which is mounted above the system, detects physical objects and human hands around the device by distinguishing color of them.

HydroMorph itself consists of a flat circular surface and an array of 10 arrow-like modules, each composed of an actuated block, a linkage mechanism and an Arduino-controlled servo motor. These arrows are arranged in a circle and pointing upward towards the stream.

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As a stream of water hits the flat surface, a membrane is formed and each module blocks the membrane to manipulate the particular shape. Using the linkage mechanism to convert the rotary motion to linear motion, servo motors enable a vertical displacement of the blocks. The software, built using Processing, generates the shapes based on the way water reacts to the height of each blocker.

“Imagining this device applied in daily life or in public spaces would give, on a practical level, a more responsive and sensitive way to interact with water. On a conceptual level, HydroMorph expands the vocabulary of interactions with this everyday medium of water,” the group adds.

Some of the use cases include notifying you whether or not water is safe to drink by revealing a full-bloomed or wilted flower, extending the functionality of a faucet by filling one or more cups by directing streams of water into them, as well as revealing the weather forecast by showing the iconic shape of an umbrella or sun.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s paper, or watch it in action below.

This Arduino-powered machine turns tweets into cocktails


Who knew you could get drunk on data? 


You’ve most likely read a tweet, you’ve probably even heard a tweet aloud, but chances are you’ve never tasted a tweet. But that may all soon change, because Clément Gault and Koi Koi Design have developed Data Cocktail, an Arduino-powered machine that whips up cocktails based on, you guessed it, Twitter activity.

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Data Cocktail works by scouring the web for the five latest posts mentioning keywords that are linked to available ingredients, represented by differently colored bulbs. (The system will accept either words, hashtags and mentions.) These messages are then used to define the composition of the drink and fill the glass accordingly. The result is an original, crowdsourced concoction whose recipe can be printed out.

“If you’re wondering whether a tweet about Santa Claus in Winnipeg, Canada can take part in generating a cocktail in Nantes, we say yes! Data Cocktail is a machine but it doesn’t exclude a minimum of politeness,” its creators reveal. “Once the cocktail mix is realized, Data Cocktail will thank the tweeters who have, without knowing it, helped at realizing it.”

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Its creators reveal that they can easily change the keywords, ingredients and proportions to suit specific events. Meaning, the robotic bartender can make drinks based on everything from election coverage (whether you’re experiencing a Trumpertantrum or feeling the Bern) to what’s trending at any particular moment.

In terms of software, Data Cocktail uses the Processing and Arduino programming languages. A first application, developed in Processing, pilots the device. The requests are performed using the Twitter4J library, while the app processes the data and commands the robotic gadget.

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As for its electronics, Data Cocktail is comprised of a robot, solenoid valves and LEDs. The robot is built around a modified Pololu Zumo chassis with a motor shield, a Bluetooth module and an Arduino Pro (ATmega328). Meanwhile, the valves and lights are controlled by an Arduino Due (SAM3X8E) connected via USB.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s page here, or watch it in action below.

Alright, so you may not find this lipstick robot inside a Sephora anytime soon


Let’s just be glad it wasn’t eyeliner.


A robotic arm can wake Simone Giertz up, brush her teeth, feed her breakfast, and now, it can even put on her lipstick before a night on the town… well, sort of.

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In an experiment that was simply an “afternoon impulse,” the Swedish YouTuber and tech enthusiast decided to program her infamous uArm and give it a tube of red lipstick. The ATmega328-powered robotic device then proceeded to apply the makeup, regardless of where it thought Giertz’s mouth was. The results were, as expected, not so pretty.

Good news beauticians, your jobs are still safe!

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