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Vimeo / MIT Media Lab

MIT's Amazing 3D Gizmo

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Vimeo / MIT Media Lab

The MIT Media Lab has developed a way to reach out and touch someone—literally. Dubbed inFORM, the device is a "Dynamic Shape Display." It's like a computer's display, except the "pixels" are physical pins that move up and down. Combine this with a 3D camera like the Kinect, and you get a moving 3D physical representation of an object, rather than a picture. Long story short, you need to watch this:

inFORM - Interacting With a Dynamic Shape Display from Tangible Media Group on Vimeo.

MIT explains:

We are currently exploring a number of application domains for the inFORM shape display. One area we are working on is Geospatial data, such as maps, GIS, terrain models and architectural models. Urban planners and Architects can view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs. We are collaborating with the urban planners in the Changing Places group at MIT on this (http://cp.media.mit.edu/). In addition, inFORM would allow 3D Modelers and Designers to prototype their 3D designs physically without 3D printing (at a low resolution). Finally, cross sections through Volumetric Data such as medical imaging CT scans can be viewed in 3D physically and interacted with. We would like to explore medical or surgical simulations. We are also very intrigued by the possibilities of remotely manipulating objects on the table.

Read the rest, or check out a stop motion animation exploring similar ideas in physical user interfaces.

(Via Devour).

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iStock // vuk8691
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Creating a Water-Powered Hammer Using Stone Age Tools
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iStock // vuk8691

A "Monjolo" is a water-powered hammer made from a log and some sticks. It relies on flowing water from a stream to do its work.

In the video below, the anonymous laborer who goes by Primitive Technology on YouTube creates his own Monjolo from scratch. It's effectively a hollowed-out log placed in the path of a stream, supported by a structure of skinny beams. As the log fills up with water, it rises, then the water drains out the back and it comes crashing down again. When it crashes down, that's an opportunity for a hammer head on the end to do something useful—like crushing charcoal or grain.

The creator of Primitive Technology writes:

This is the first machine I’ve built using primitive technology that produces work without human effort. Falling water replaces human calories to perform a repetitive task. A permanent set up usually has a shed protecting the hammer and materials from the weather while the trough end sits outside under the spout. This type of hammer is used to pulverise grain into flour and I thought I might use one to mill dry cassava chips into flour when the garden matures. ...

Like all the Primitive Technology videos, this is done entirely without spoken or written language, and it's DIY paradise. Tune in for a look into what one man alone in the bush can create:

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This Just In
Typewriter Sold at Flea Market Turns Out to Be Rare World War II Enigma Machine

An antique typewriter sold at a Romanian flea market for $114 turned out to be a rare piece of wartime history: a German Wehrmacht Enigma I machine worth tens of thousands of dollars, Reuters reports.

To the uninitiated, the rare electromechanical cipher machine—which was first developed in Germany in the 1920s, and was used to encode and decode Nazi military messages during World War II—resembles a writing machine. But when a cryptography professor spotted it, he knew the device’s true worth. He purchased the relic and later put it up for auction at the Bucharest auction house Artmark.

Artmark employee Vlad Georgescu told CNN that the machine was made in Germany in 1941. It was in near-perfect condition thanks to its owner, who cleaned and repaired it, and “took great care of it,” Georgescu said.

The Enigma I’s starting price was $10,300. On Tuesday, July 11, an online bidder purchased it for more than $51,000. "These machines are very rare, especially entirely functional ones," Georgescu said. Historians, however, say that Romania may still be home to more unidentified Engima I machines, as the country was once allied with Nazi Germany before joining forces with the Allies in 1944.

During World War II, Alan Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park, Britain's central codebreaking site, built a giant computer called the Bombe to calculate solutions that solved the Enigma’s supposedly unbreakable code. Some military historians believe that their efforts shortened the war by at least two years.

[h/t BBC News]

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