ETCH A SKETCH® —
The world’s largest Etch A Sketch
made its debut at SIGGRAPH
2006 — the 33rd International
Conference and Exhibition on
Computer Graphics and Interactive
Techniques held July 30-August 3,
2006 in Boston, MA.
Officially endorsed by The Ohio
Art Company, this interactive installation enabled audience members to
control (in real time) the two main
drawing knobs that are found on a
conventional, err, analog Etch A
Sketch. The audience’s collaborative
drawing was displayed on the main
projection screen. Audience members
were also able to “shake” the screen
and erase the screen’s contents.
COMING SOON TO YOU!
Another feature at SIGGRAPH
2006 was the Emerging
Technologies program. Featuring a
broad range of installations from
research labs, universities, and
independents, this program gives
attendees a quick “heads up” for the
types of human/computer interaction
that could be invading your personal
space in the coming years.
Selected from 110 submissions
from 18 countries, only 36 technologies
were on display. The following are just a
few highlights of this popular program:
• Virtual Open Heart Surgery: Training
Complex Surgical Procedures in
Congenital Heart Disease. Contact:
Thomas Sangild Sorensen,
University of Aarhus, Denmark
• Forehead Retina System. Contact:
Hiroyuki Kajimoto, The University
• Powered Shoes. Contact: Hiroo Iwata,
The University of Tsukuba
• Perceptual Attraction Force: The Sixth
Force. Contact: Tomohiro Amemiya,
NTT Communication Science
• The Virtual Humanoid. Contact:
Michihiko Shoji, NTT DoCoMo
• The Huggable: A Therapeutic Robotic
Companion for Relational, Affective
Touch. Contact: Walter Dan Stiehl,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Media Lab, Robotic Life Group
YOU’RE GONNA FLY
WHAT AND YOU’RE
GONNA FLY WHERE?
The Space Shuttle Discovery landed
with the crew of STS-121 at the NASA
Kennedy Space Center, FL. Photo by
NASA/Bill Ingalls and courtesy of NASA.
Every time the space shuttle returns
from a successful mission, NASA
is quick to promote some of the exotic research that was performed during
the quick jaunt into space. So, there
wasn’t too much surprise when NASA
reported that Space Shuttle Discovery
carried a cargo of 150 fruit flies during
its July 2006 mission. What did raise a
couple of thousand eyebrows around
the world was learning that these
annoying little flies were being studied
for the effects of long-term space
flights on the human immune system.
If my college zoology courses were
worth a darn, fruit flies belong to the
genus Drosophila. Likewise, these
diminutive flies are a researcher’s
dream come true — they reproduce
quickly, have a well-documented genetic makeup, and they have around a 60
day life cycle. So, every two months you
can study a new generation of fruit flies.
And that’s where studying the
Drosophila immune system comes in. In
this case, the fruit flies from Discovery
will be infected with some fungus and
bacteria. Similarly, a “control group” of
Earthbound fruit flies will be infected
with the same fungal/bacterial cocktail.
Scientists will then study the immune
systems from the two fly groups.
Hopefully, the answers gleaned from
these experiments will help to contribute to making long endurance space
flights lasting more than two years a
piece of cake for future astronauts.
So today fruit flies — tomorrow,
the next stop Mars.
UP THE CREEK WITHOUT
A PHOTOVOLTAIC CELL
Did you hear that? That was the
sound of a solar-powered boat
sailing by you. Puttering around
Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park
is a unique boat that is totally silent and
completely pollution free. Known as
the Serpentine SolarShuttle, this boat is
powered by a beautifully arranged
overhead netting of photovoltaic cells.
Designed by the incomparable
Christoph Behling, Serpentine
SolarShuttle is built by SolarLab
Research & Design; a research and
design firm founded by Behling. There
are other solar-powered transportation boats in the SolarLab fleet, including the world’s largest solar-powered
boat, the Hamburg SolarShuttle.
If you’d like to read more about
the Serpentine SolarShuttle and
SolarLab, go to www.solarlab.org.
TI WANTS YOU TO WIN A
DLP HDTV THE EZ WAY
Get those thinking caps on; Texas
Instruments has just announced
an MSP430 microcontroller (MCU) eZ
design contest. Running from July 17
through October 9, 2006, contestants
may submit projects ranging from practical everyday devices to industry-spe-cific solutions. Regardless of your inspiration, your entry must show off the
world’s lowest-power MSP430 MCUs
and development tools, including the
new eZ430-F2013 — a USB stick based
full emulation and development tool.
Only original product designs
should be submitted, along with all of
the usual suspects: design schematics,
firmware, tech diagrams, photographs,
and videos of running hardware. The
main processor for all design entries
must be the MSP430 MCU.
Judging will spotlight innovation
and the best employment of on-chip
MSP430 MCU features. The grand,
first, and second place winners will