50 Years of the LED

Today is the 50th birthday of the first practical LED, an invention built on an understanding that has transformed our lives: enabling cheap, mass-produced and very hardy display and lighting technologies.

A while back, GE produced a great piece of branded content featuring its inventor, Prof. Nick Holonyak, where he offers some insight into the moment that his light emitting diodes were first conceived:

He leaves us with the advice to “Learn more, do more, build more, reveal more”, which doesn’t take a physicist to know is just brilliant advice for life, for ‘inventors’ of all kinds.

“And you know what? This isn’t the end!”

Sticky Light

Ready for some frickin’ laserbeams to kickstart the week? I know I am.

A team from the University of Tokyo have conceived of several new applications for lasers, some of which are interesting to say the least, others potentially groundbreaking. These applications arise from their Smart Laser Scanner (markerless laser tracking) technology:

Essentially, it is a smart rangefinder scanner that instead of continuously scanning over the full field of view, restricts its scanning area to a very narrow window precisely the size of the target (from the Ishikawa Komura Laboratory)

So what this means for us is we could pretty soon have a low-cost and low-apparatus method to interface with a wearable computer, in multitouch, and without the need for any markers.

Potential form of laser inputA potential laser output
Potential forms of laser input and output
The project website features videos for all of their experiments, including:

  • Simple 3D tracking
  • Air writing
  • Multiple point tracking
  • Alphanumeric feedback
  • Video editing
  • Map navigation
  • Multiple users

I urge you to read more on the project website right here, but before you go, I’d like to feature one of the coolest applications I found for the Smart Laser Scanner. It’s called Sticky Light, and it’s an experiment in light interaction:

The question I want to ask is, wouldn’t this be the ultimate executive toy if productized in time for Christmas? I know I want one.