Fix Outlook :: A Really Cool Idea Birthed by a Stupid One


Microsoft wants to use Word to render HTML emails in Outlook 2010. This basically means designers who spend a ton of time making sure their killer-looking HTML emails will work across multiple email programs are up in arms because this would essentially kill those designs across a wide swath of email readers.

So they are fighting back. Fixoutlook.org is their voice. The website does 2 things. It shows you why using Word to render HTML emails is a bad idea, and it displays the twitter users who are protesting this change in real-time. Hopefully Microsoft will get the message because this really is kinda a big deal.

From a "message standpoint" it's slightly skewed since some people will tweet the site URL just to get their photo to appear (that's 90% of the fun). But it's also a great awareness campaign so people who don't really know why they should care(the same people who don't know why they should upgrade from IE6) can find out. It's a great showcase for the incredibly talented gang at Newism, the company that made it.

View the site and then tweet about it to get your photo added to the user scroll: http://fixoutlook.org

Penguins :: Bionic Solutions for Efficient Automation

Some day I want an office atrium or foyer at my house with giant robotic Air Penguins just kicking it.

FESTO :: THIS IS LIKE EVIL SUPER-VILLAIN HEADQUARTERS STUFF

Festo is a German company with offices worldwide is a supplier of pneumatic and electrical automation technology. Some of their projects in the Bionic Learning Network mimic behaviors in nature to help us apply efficiencies in production.

"Bionic design principles serve as the basis for the development of new gripper technology for flexible adaptive grasping in the mechanical handling industry.

"In biomechatronics, Festo is investigating new approaches in the control and regulation of autonomous bionic systems, all the way up to smart system integration and the application of state-of-the-art communication technologies."

AUQUAPENGUIN

Like its natural archetype, the AquaPenguin from Festo has a hydrodynamic body contour. Its elegant wing propulsion and its head and tail sections, which can be moved in all directions, allow the robotic penguins to manoeuvre in cramped spatial conditions, to turn on the spot when necessary and – unlike their biological counterparts – even to swim backwards.

The bionic Penguins are designed as autonomous underwater vehicles that independently orient themselves and navigate through the water basin. They are supported by a 3D sonar system which, as with dolphins, allows communication with their surroundings and with other robotic penguins – for example to avoid collisions.

An entirely new feature in robotics is the torso that can move in any direction. The bionic Fin Ray® structure, derived from the tail fin of a fish, has thus been extended into three-dimensional space for the first time. The pengins' torso design can be used in automation in a flexible tripod configuration, thereby opening up new fields of application in mechanical handling technology.

AQUAJELLY

AquaJelly is an artificial autonomous jellyfish in water, a self-controlling system which emulates swarming behaviour. AquaJelly consists of a translucent hemisphere and eight tentacles for propulsion. At the centre of the AquaJelly is a watertight laser-sintered body. It houses a central electric motor, the two lithium-ion polymer batteries, the recharging control unit and the servo motors for the swash plate.

AIRJELLY

AirJelly's environment is the air. Unlike AquaJelly, the remote-controlled jellyfish AirJelly does not swim through water, but instead glides instead through a sea of air thanks to its central electric drive unit and an intelligent, adaptive mechanism. It is able to do so because it consists of a helium-filled ballonett.

AirJelly's sole source of power is two lithium-ion polymer batteries connected to the central electric drive unit. It transmits the force to a bevel gear and from there to a succession of eight spur gears, which move the eight tentacles of the jellyfish via cranks. Each tentacle is designed as a structure with Fin Ray Effect® . Propulsion of a ballonett by means of peristaltic motion is hitherto unknown in the history of aviation. AirJelly is the first indoor flight object with peristaltic drive. This new drive concept, with propulsion based on the principle of recoil, moves the jellyfish gently through the air.

Dig into this company at their website: Festo.com >>

Shape Shifter


The Pentagon's Fringe Science unit (sounds like it's from Batman, but they're working on projects more on par with Terminator) has apparently been working on the science of shape-shifting--using "programmable matter" that can be ordered to “self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves.”

Several different science groups around the country are working on similar functions, from using synthetic DNA to intelligent material and using complex mathematical theorems to fold sheets of material into different three dimensional shapes.

Long-term, this technology could be used in scenarios from civilian to military. A few examples:

  • Morphing aircraft and ground vehicles
  • Uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate
  • ’Soft’ robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes
  • Mimic the shape and appearance of a person or object being imaged in real time, and as the originals moved, so would their replicas
  • A soldier could even reach into a can of unformed goop, and order up a custom-made tool or a “universal spare part"
Our ideas formed in science fiction are catching up to reality. This stuff is pure Terminator-meets-Transformers.


READ MORE AT WIRED >>

Lights :: Ars Electronica museum in Linz, Austria

The museum has a facade that contains 1085 LED controllable windows. The windows' colors are changed in realtime with music that's broadcasted on speakers surrounding the building.
 


The installation was done by Multivision, a Marchtrenk-based firm founded in 2002. Music for the piece was composed by Daito Manabe, who in my opinion has a dream-job. What a cool project to be a part of.

From LEDINSIDE.com:
"The LED facade lighting installation is the largest of its kind in Europe. The LED strips built into one side of 1,100 of the glass facade’s panels are 20-120 cm long. A strip’s cross-section is 30 x 45 mm; each is studded with 20-48 high-output LEDs. Mounted on each diode is a special 22 x 22-mm lens that casts the light onto the glass panels. Each of the 1,100 LED strips can be individually controlled by an electronic unit that makes it possible to fine-tune brightness and the color mix.

Saved to memory on the lighting system’s master computer is a repertoire of patterns that can be applied to the Museum of the Future’s facade at night. Special artistic effects and new patterns can be created from scratch on the computer. A unique feature of the technology being utilized in Linz is the possibility of producing a pure white. With it, the AEC can be transformed at the push of a button into a 'white crystal.'"

READ MORE ABOUT THE INSTALL >>