device

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Design

Air Bonsai: Levitating Magnetic Bonsai Trees by Hoshinchu

January 25, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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Despite the visual beauty and life-giving nature of plants, there’s always been one main problem with our vegetative friends: plants can’t fly. A small company called Hoshinchu based out of Kyushu, Japan, recently set out to fix the problem that evolution forgot by inventing the Air Bonsai, a system for magnetically levitating small bonsai trees several inches above a small electrified pedestal. The system allows you to create your own miniature Avatar-like worlds with tiny trees or shrubs planted in balls of moss, but is also powerful enough to suspend special ceramic dishes of fragments of lava rock.

Air Bonsai is currently funding like crazy on Kickstarter and is availble in a number of configurations starting with a base DIY kit for $200 that requires you to use your own plants up to more elaborate designs that may only ship in Japan. (via Spoon & Tamago)

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Design

Ferrolic: A Clock with a Liquid Face Powered by Magnetism

August 24, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Way back in 2000 I downloaded a screensaver designed by Yugo Nakamura called DropClock that tied in with your systems’ internal time to create a functional clock face depicting Helvetica numbers dropping into water in slow motion. It was mesmerizing to watch and I kept it running for years. Designer Zelf Koelman took the idea of merging time and liquid a step further by creating Ferrolic, a self-contained clock that literally displays time with liquid. It’s almost exactly what would happen if a digital clock and a lava lamp had a baby.

Ferrolic utilizes ferrofluid—a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field—to display recognizable shapes in response to magnets embedded inside the clock’s aluminum frame. The moving blobs look almost alive, a fact not lost on Koelman who refers to them as “creatures.” He shares:

Ferrolic was designed from a strong fascination for the magical material Ferro Fluid. The natural dynamics of this fluid makes that this display bridges the gap between everyday digital screens and tangible reality.

Because the fluid behaves in a unpredictable way, it is possible to give the bodies perceived in the Ferrolic display a strong reference to living creatures. It is this lively hood that enables Ferrolic to show a meaningful narrative like for instance having the creatures play tag. In addition the natural flow of the material, it can be used to form recognisable shapes and characters. Ferrolic uses these both layers in parallel in order to display scenes and transitions in an poetic, almost dance like, choreographed way.

The clocks are a bit of a prototype so far, only 24 of the devices are available at a price of about $8,000 each, making it much more of a limited edition art piece than a consumer-grade alarm clock. You can learn more here. (via Boing Boing, Fast Company)

 

 



Design

Everbright: A Giant Interactive Light Toy That's Like a Lite-Brite for Grown-Ups

August 17, 2015

Christopher Jobson

At 42x the size of a traditional ‘Light-Brite’ toy, the Everbright by San Francisco-based Hero Design is a huge grid of adjustable LEDs for drawing with light. But instead of only a limited selection of individual colors, the Everbright relies on 464 dials that change in hue as you twist them, offering almost unlimited color possibilities when creating designs. When you’re done drawing, the entire board resets to a blank canvas with the press of a single button. While fully interactive, it also comes pre-programmed with several animations that can play when not in use.

You can learn more about Everbright here, and it looks like this has already moved beyond a concept and the devices are now available for sale. (via Designboom, Neatorama)

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Art Design

Bruce Shapiro's Mesmerizing Kinetic Sand Drawing Machines

June 3, 2015

Christopher Jobson

In a 21st century take on the traditional Zen sand garden, artist Bruce Shapiro invented the Sisyphus Machine, an elaborate kinetic drawing machine that uses magnets to drag rolling steel marbles through a thin layer of sand to create complicated mandala-like patterns. Shapiro, who was once a practicing physician, has spent the better part of 25 years experimenting with computerized motion control and many of his Sisyphus Machines have been installed in locations around the world including a large device in Switzerland back in 2003 and at Questacon in Canberra, Australia in 2013. It appears the artist is currently working on a tabletop consumer version and if you’re interested you can sign up for his mailing list here. (via Core77, Fast Company)

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Design Science

The Tempescope is an Ambient Weather Device that Simulates the Forecast on Your Desktop

May 28, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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The Tempescope is a novel device designed by Ken Kawamoto that displays the upcoming forecast by simulating weather conditions inside a small translucent box. The device is capable of downloading information about upcoming weather off the internet, which it then translates into a variety of modes to replicate sunshine, clouds, rain, and even lighting. Kawamoto made an early version of the device available as a free open-source project called OpenTempescope so you can try building your own, but a consumer version is planned for Kickstarter later this year. If you liked this, don’t miss The Cloud. (via Sixpenceee)

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Design Science

An Aerial Laser Display Capable of Projecting 3D Objects in Mid-Air

November 5, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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A team of researchers in Japan lead by Akira Asano of Burton Inc. have developed a 3D aerial display capable of projecting text and imagery in mid-air. The Aerial Burton works by firing a 1kHz infrared pulse directly into a 3D scanner which in turn focuses and reflects the laser to a specific point in the air. Molecules at the end of the laser then ionize, releasing energy in the form of photons. While the full potential for such a display has yet to be seen, Asano suggests it could be used as a communication aid in the event of a disaster by communicating evacuation routes or broadcasting the location of emergency supplies. Personally, I would be satisfied with a 3D laser butterfly in my backyard. (via DigInfo)