Rock, Paper, Cyborgs

This robot hand makes a mockery of its human opponent in a game of rock, paper, scissors with a 100% win rate – one more step towards the total obsolescence of the human mind:

Rather than operate within the parameters of its programming and AI, the robot uses available sensory info and its rapid processing power to effectively ‘cheat’, making AI redundant in this instance:

human-machine cooperation system

The effect (at human speed, anyway) is that it wins without a scrap of intelligence, so what does that say about us?!

Matthias Müller’s Particle Art

There’s this guy called Matthias Müller, and he makes beautiful abstractions out of virtual dust on his supercomputer. He’s some kind of motion-art superhero, probably sent to us from the exploding Planet 3DS Max by his scientist parents.

In this post I’ve picked out a few examples of his work, because as well as being simply gorgeous viewing material, they’re great examples of what’s possible with a few gigs of RAM, a graphics card and some imagination.

Probably my favourite due to it’s relative simplicity, this tech demo plays with texture in surprising ways:

This next one is so epic! Like an underwater fireworks show of electric choreographed jellyfish, or something…

Watch as millions of particles merge and blend with infinite complexity in this piece of seemingly generative fludity:

This final clip is almost a love story. Watch as two swirling masses collide, explode and dance in time with the music:

An undoubtedly talented guy, Matthias has done commercial work for Honda and Vodafone (as featured last year).  His YouTube channel is certainly worth a look, as are his lovely image renders on CGPortfolio.

I can barely get the most out of MSPaint, however…

Be your own CSI with GelSight

The guys at GelSight are on to something big – or at least, magnified.

Their specially designed rubber lens lets one see details as small as two microns thick, through their patent-pending and newly perfected approach. This video demonstrates how it all works:

And this video shows off the extent of GelSight’s sensitivity:

The stuff looks really cheap to produce, but with a wide range of applications, especially for ballistics or engineering. Personally, I’d buy some just to use as a desk toy, alongside my Intelligent Putty and other cool shit.

It’s the simple combination of rubber and reflective paint that makes GelSight’s patent so valuable, albeit so simple. Yet it took two MIT alumni to spot the gap and to productize. Goes to show what other great combinations are still out there waiting to be discovered!

Experience a Glimpse of 3D Web Browsing

Coming Soon: 3D computing. Well, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

3D Windows XP Icons
image credit: http://goo.gl/98PXI

My claim is that 3D is the next step in object-oriented user interface (OOUI), which is the way most of us interact with computers after someone (at Apple, I think) had idea that we’d store ‘documents’ in ‘folders’ rather than access them via a command line. Ever since, we’ve  been using ‘object-oriented’ analogies to interact with our machines.

Now is the age of 3D screen technologies, with Hollywood fighting back from piracy with a new golden age for cinema, Samsung outperforming Sony to becoming the number one manufacturer of 3D TVs, and the Nintendo 3DS making use of prismatic 3D in it’s menus, and of course in-game (think I might be buying Ocarina again soon). Not to mention Microsoft’s Kinect, which changes the way we interact in the three dimensions of physical, as opposed to virtual space.

But before all of this, there were innovators trying to make 3D compliant with everyday use, such as TATMobile who, without the power to print prismatic screens, force a behaviour change through the use of 3D glasses, or sell expensive stereoscopic 3D projectors, had come up with a pretty cool lo-fi solution:

The video above demonstrates the use of a front-facing camera on one’s mobile phone to track the location of your eyes, augmenting what’s onscreen, allowing you to see ‘behind’ icons or onto different screens by peering around. Hopefully you can imagine how a 3D screen might alter the way you interact with your device, so it’s no wonder they were bought by RIM and are now developing UI for BlackBerry.

While we’re at it, also check out the work of Bumptop (sadly now defunct), Johnny Lee‘s Wii hacks, and even YouTube‘s foray into 3D video.

Another lo-fi solution to making 3D useful comes from Mozilla, outlined in this fascinating article. Their technology, called Tilt, is not a way to physically see in 3D (it’s just software at this point), but certainly nods towards the future 3D stereoscopy web content. You can test Mozilla’s Tilt plugin in Firefox with their beta plugin at that link, but here’s a demo:

All we need now is for computer, laptop, tablet & mobile screens to become 3D-enabled, and for vast swathes of web designers to optimise their sites for WebGL, and suddenly those social buttons become a bit more clickable.

Gameboy Emulator for Android

You know how I love my phone like it was a sexy robot from the future? Well check this shit out. It’s also a full-blown GBA emulator, which with its massive AMOLED screen, and dual core processing, makes my Samsung way more awesome than I could possibly have conceived.

This is a screenshot from Tiger GBA running Advance Wars 2, on it’s original resolution (you can upscale but I like to kick it oldshool). The app integrates with a ROM downloader, where one can select ‘backups’ of the games they already own in order to play.

Legal note: it is against the law to download and play ROM backups of games you do not own. So play safe!