Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let the April Fools Hijinx begin

Its that time of year, and the internet is full of people with a sense of humor.  This year, we start with some 8-bit maps from Google.  Enjoy!

Thanks to Glenn for the link.

Indoor Skydiving!!

Today we went to a birthday for one of Bix's friends.  It was held at a place called I Fly SF Bay where we went indoor sky diving.  Yes, you read that right.  We went indoor sky diving.  They have a special building with a giant fan in the floor that is capable of blowing air directly up at speeds that can actually suspend you in the air.  The four 250 hp motors use 500 kilowatts to create 100 - 180 mph winds to keep you aloft.  It was a pretty incredible experience.  You actually get feel free fall without the need to have the earth rushing at you at scary speeds.  If you ever get the opportunity, we recommend that you give it a try.

Bix says:
"Indoor Sky Diving.  That's something I never thought I could say I did.  It was scary at first but once I knew what I was doing it felt like I could fly forever, glide in the wind over to England and back."

Widdakay says:
"It felt as if I were superman, once I got the hang of how to stay in control of my speed."

Thanks for an awesome birthday party Holly!

April Fools

Dont believe everything you hear tomorrow.  It is April 1st, the day that it is OK to play pranks on your friends, family and co-workers.  Did you ever wonder where this tradition came from?   This video gives you the history.

Let us know if you come across some great April Fools gags.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Guy Kawasaki on Steve Jobs

I remember Guy Kawasaki from the early days of Macintosh and his book, "The Macintosh Way."  He worked with Steve Jobs twice (one of the few who managed to do that).  In this video, he has some insights that he learned from Steve Jobs.  There are some great ideas in there, like, in a presentation, the point size of your smallest font should be approximately half the age of the oldest person in your audience.  Definitely inspirational and worth 20 minutes of your time, but if you prefer, you can read essentially the same thing here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Frame of Mind

This is a fun little video about two guys and a picture frame.  Take a look and enjoy.

Wind Map

Things get hairy in the US?  No, actually this is a map of the winds across the country.  It is strangely beautiful, but somehow it does kind of look as if we are growing fur.  The live moving map is quite compelling.  See the live map here.

Thanks Mercy

Making Books

With all the digital gizmos that we are surrounded by, we sometimes forget the simple beauty of a physical book.  Here at Digital Diner, we love our tablet computers, but still Bix surrounds herself with physical books, and Monika recently because the proud owner of the world's most impressive cook book (which I hope she will discuss in a future post).  The short video above, does a beautiful job of showing you the care that goes into the production of real, limited edition books.  Take a look and see if you agree.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Ways of Programming

Bret Victor gave a really interesting talk about how programming should really work, and that invention can be based on/motivated by a principle.  He has a very interesting view of what is static and what is dynamic and how it can affect how we create things.  Right now, programmers spend their time typing in complex code that is then compiled or interpreted by the computer.  These worlds of editing and runtime are very related, but not really directly connected in a two way sense.  In his world programming is part definition and part performance.  It is a long talk, but around 24:00 he talks about how his ideas apply to designing circuits as well as software.  If you are at all interested in this topic, it is worth your while.
He isn't the only one who is interested in this type of idea.  The video below is much shorter and shows a system called Gliimpse that connects code to result via simple animation.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bald Eagles are Moving In!

This is just local news, but it's rather exciting.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, two bald eagles have returned to San Mateo County after nearly a century of absence.  The last time they were seen around here was in 1915.  Now a pair have set up residence near the north end of Crystal Springs Reservoir, right off of I-280.  I hoping that from time to time they make an appearance here in our nearby Edgewood Park.  We'll keep an eye out for them.

Read about it here.

View Bald eagle viewpoint in a larger map

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Synthetic Biology Competition

This is really cool.  iGem is a competition to build biomachines.  It has categories for high school, college and entrepreneurs.  The idea is to build interesting things using some standard biological building blocks.  I think this is an exciting way to promote interest and innovation in new field of synthetic biology.  In the high school division, these are some of the topics:

Below is an interesting/quirky little video on the difference between between genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

Looks like fun to me.  Anybody want to form a team?  What do you want to build?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Exceptional Motivation

Some people are born with motivation. They don't settle for good enough. They are driven to get things done and overcome whatever obstacles are thrown in their path. In the case of this fellow, these obstacles are pretty significant.  It may slow him down, but it wont stop him. This video certainly helps me put my problems in perspective.
Go get 'em Christopher!

America's Cup

I love sailing, and I'm getting pretty excited about the upcoming America's Cup sailboat races.  The 34th running of the oldest trophy in international sport will take place next year right here in San Francisco Bay.  The boats look nothing like they used to.  They are all spindly 72 foot long catamarans made of high tech composite materials with wings instead of sails that seem to fly along the water.
Generally the America's Cup is a match race, meaning two boats racing against each other, the defender vs challenger.  In this case, it is the Oracle Racing USA team (winner of America's Cup 33) that will defend the cup against the winner of a series of races called the Louis Vuitton Cup.  In the period leading up to the final race in fall of 2013, they have many races including the mass start, fleet races with many boats competing at the same time (which I think are much more exciting than the matched sprints even if they aren't quite as much of a battle of wits).  You can watch some of the fleet races here to get an idea of what they look like.

Here is how the schedule is shaping up:

America’s Cup World Series 2012-2013 (various dates and locations around the world but starting in Naples on April 11)
Louis Vuitton Cup:  04 July – 1 September 2013
America’s Cup Match (Finals):  7-22 September 2013

Learn more about the America's Cup here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bacon Book for iPad

Its about time that bacon got together with iPads.  Don't you think?

Voice Synthesis

[for those just skimming through Digital Diner today, be sure you watch the Miku Video at the end even if you skip the stuff in the middle]
I've always been interested in music and sound.  The voice is one of the most intriguing forms of audio to us human beings.  Of course, once you tie that in with a little technology, it starts to get really interesting.  The video above, was made 73 years ago and shows the state of the art of voice synthesis at the time.  Not at all bad considering the analog technology that was available at the time.  At least you can understand what the voice is saying.
Now we have Siri on our iPhones and synthetic voices in our GPS that talk to us on a daily basis.  While those voices are getting better, they still sound mechanical and uninspired.  Laurie Anderson (who is now married to Lou Reed - who knew?) has said that she considers conversations to be a type of performance art and that speech is really a type of music.  Truly human sounding speech is performed, not generated.  This week Yamaha showed a keyboard that allows you to create a vocal performance live on a special keyboard.  The video below is eerily like the the older version above, but of course the audio quality is much better.

The technology that Yamaha is using is called Vocaloid, and it was specifically created to synthesize human sounding singing voices.  This technology has already been used in some amazing ways. 

The video below shows Miku - a favorite example of technology here at Digital Diner.  Miku doesn't really exist.  She is completely synthesized.  She is a hologram who happens to perform on stage in front of people in a concert style.  (I was going to say that she performs "live" in front of people, but I suppose that isn't really appropriate) In fact, even her voice is synthesized using Vocaloid.  So, here we have a singing star based on a synthetic voice.  I think we are at least on par with HAL from the movie 2001 singing Daisy as it was being unplugged (which BTW, was a tip of the hat to the IBM computer that played Daisy 1961).
Here on Digital Diner, we've talked before about whether or not you should believe what you see, but I think that Miku takes this to new heights.  You know she isn't real, and in fact that is the point of going to see "her".  Catchy tune aside, it seems like quite a social experience.  Just look at that crowd wildly waving their glow sticks in time with music from a hologram.  ...and do you even want to get a back stage pass to this performance?  I'm not sure.  I think the social implications of these performances will be the basis for many a psychology PhD to come.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Self Sterilizing Toothbrush

I hope somebody makes a product of this concept.  It's a toothbrush that has a built in sanitizer.  When you are done brushing, insert the brash back into the handle and plug it in to any USB port where it is presumably bombarded with enough UV/IR/Whatever to kill any little germy guys that may have accumulated.  Great for travel, don't you think?

via inspire me now

Yarn Bombing

When I was a kid, I remember that someone I know (it may or may not have been a family member), would illicitly dress up the statue of President McKinley outside the Dayton Public Library as Santa Claus every Christmas.  It was a complex process that involved taking measurements without anyone noticing, sewing a costume, sneaking to the library in the middle of the night and dressing this much larger than life statue without getting caught, and finally watching the paper the next morning to see if the newspaper published a picture (which they did).

Well, now a related practice has been taken to new artistic heights with something called yarn bombing.  The idea is that you knit something specifically for some public item/structure, then you sneakily clothe it in your custom made togs.  I like the idea of keeping those cold metal statues warm on winter days with a little knitting.  This is one type of graffiti I can definitely support.  Any takers?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Special Relativity

Here at Digital Diner, we love Minute Physics.  The latest installment explains how Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity saved science.  Apparently, before Einstein, nothing could move.  It sure is a good thing that he came a long, otherwise life would be pretty boring.

The Miracle of Birth

I always thought it worked differently, but this film shows the process of having a baby as a very cute, time-lapse film.  A bit of planning went into this one...

Print Living Cells Using a Standard Inkjet Printer

The folks at Clemson University have come up with a method to modify an inkjet printer to print living cells.  It makes me think of all sorts of fun applications, like how long will it be until I can print business cards with psychedelic,  live, bioluminescent ink that glows in the dark.  Dude!   How cool is that?  Just rummage through your garage for aold laminar flow cabinet, a sonicator, a centrifuge and an old inkjet printer, then watch the video.  You can read all about it here.

via Gizmodo

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

From the Rope's Point of View

This nice little film shows various people jumping rope from the point of view of the rope.  I always like the way that technology and art can combine to change in point of view and literally give you a new perspective.  Why not strap a tiny camera onto a jump rope and see what it looks like?
The video was created by Klezinski Films

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Grow a Portrait Gourd

We've all seen it - the gourd that looks a little like George Washington, or maybe the baby Jesus if you squint and look at it sideways.  Well, this fellow, Jim Widess, does not wait for nature to shape his gourd.  No.  Instead, he takes a little action himself.  In an Instructables page, Tim Anderson shows how Jim can grow gourds in a mold in just about any shape he likes.  The good news is that means you can do the same thing.  

Its time to start thinking about what you will be planting this spring.  What shapes will you try?  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Google Science Fair

These three young women are the winners of the Google Science Fair from 2011.  In this TED talk, each of them shows how curiosity and determination are key ingredients of success at any age.

Presentation is Performance

The TED conference brings presentation to a high art.  Colin Roberts seems to have a TED presenter's worst nightmare... until you figure out that is the performance.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Microbiology Prodigy

Eva Vertes was 19 at the time of this TED talk.  She discusses a little bit about the work on Alzheimer's that made her famous at the age of 17 and now her ideas about how to look at cancer differently.  This is apparently what a microbiology prodigy looks like.
Passion - check
Inspiration - check
Intensity - check
Worth 20 minutes of your time - you bet!
(If you are really short on time, you can skip the first 5:15 of background and get right into the talk about cancer)

Pi Is Still Wrong

With all the excitement about today being Pi Day, I just want to remind everyone that at some level Pi may not be all that its puffed up to be (see the video).  The great thing is that you don't have to take sides.  Eat a pie today and have 2 pies on Tau Day (6/28).  Then its a win/win.

More info on Tau Day here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We Stopped Dreaming

In the video above, Neil deGrasse gives a passionate plea for funding NASA on the grounds that it is really funding our dreams.  It is in incredible and powerful speech; definitely worth a listen.  NASA was certainly the dream maker for my generation.  Arguably it inspired a generation of technical careers and was a significant inspiration for the entire technology revolution that we are living now.

It makes me wonder if there might be a new inspiration for a new generation.  What are the new and exciting frontiers that we aren't sure we can conquer? Science Fiction has always been a bastion of forward looking ideas,  but what have hey recently come up with that is well within our grasp already.  I mean something big, like levitation.  The DARPA Grand Challenge turned out to be too easy and solved too quickly.  Maybe there is an X Prize that can inspire the next generation.

What do you think will inspire the next generation of revolutionary discoveries?


Tomorrow is Pi Day!  Time to refresh your memory of the songs!  Here are some of the many versions of the Pi song:


This is the full version, my favorite:

This is a cool way to recite Pi:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Personal Analytics

Stephen Wolfram, best known as the creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha recently posted some of his personal analytics on his blog.  He has about 20 years worth of data that he can analyze.  For example, he looks at the time of day that he sent each of the ~300,000 emails that he has sent since 1989.
It is kind of interesting to see the patterns in the data.  For instance, The large white band seems to show that he sleeps from about 3am to 11am, although from 1996 to about 2002 he seemed to drift even later and sleep from 8am to 2pm.  He is definitely a night owl.  You can even see a light band at about 7pm the probably represents dinnertime.  You can even see a trip to europe that he took in 2009.

By the end of his post he has put together information from emails, keystrokes, his calendar, phone calls and even pedometer steps.  With all this data he is able to piece together a story about the rhythms of his life.  As a musician, I like the idea that my life may have a rhythm.

I like this idea of studying the data I have collected about myself to understand myself better.  Without even thinking about it I've generated a rich database of information about my own behavior.  Ultimately, I'd like to have a process that analyzes this data and lets me know when there are new trends or changes in behavior, just so that I aware that I'm changing.

The scary part of this is that there are others that may do the same thing with my data.  For example, it is Google's goal in life to collect as much information about me as they can so that they can study me in great detail, understand me at some level and ultimately sell me stuff.  Of course, the Google motto is "do no evil" so I'm sure we have nothing to worry about.

At any rate, Stephen Wolfram's blog post is an interesting read.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trail View: Street View for National Parks

It appears that Widdakay isn't the only one interested in creating a virtual,  Street View-style tour of hiking trails.  Nature Valley has sponsored a project called Trail View that does just that by connecting a complex camera system to a hiker's backpack.  They then stitch the images together into an interface that allows you to virtually hike through beautiful countryside.  So far they have the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the Great Smokey Mountains.

This project is not as ambitious or technically advanced as Widdakay's project, which tries to do the same thing autonomously, so you don't need to have people hike every possible trail with cameras on their packs.  

The interface to the Nature Valley site is a bit hard to figure out, and the images are a bit low resolution, but still its fun to hike around the Grand Canyon a bit without leaving your desk. Take a look for yourself here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Musical Instruments from the Inside

These macro photos of the insides of musical instruments are quite beautiful and inviting, dont you think?  They were taken for posters to promote a concert series for the Berlin Philharmonic.  you can see them all here.

14 Year Old Buys a House

There has been a lot of discussion around here at Digital Diner about the NPR story of Willow Tufano, the 14 year old who bought her own house.  In case you you missed, take a look/listen here.  It certainly makes you think.

Friday, March 9, 2012

41 Megapixel Phone Camera?

Nokia has put a huge amount of effort into the camera for the new Nokia 808 phone.  It packs an incredible 41 megapixels.  Yes, that is 41 Megapixels!

Now, I am a skeptic when it comes to more megapixels and I'm really frustrated that the camera companies have lowered themselves to making the camera market into a race for megapixels.  At some point it really doesn't make any sense.  For most people about 5 megapixels is plenty of resolution and adding more pixels just hurts low light performance.  Your camera's image sensor is actually millions of little light sensor that just count the number of photons that hit it.  If you think about how there are only a certain number of photons that will bounce off a scene into your camera's lens, you can see that the more pixels you spread those photons over, the fewer photons per photosite sensor, which then causes a challenge in low light conditions.  There are just fewer photons to count.  In addition, the more pixels, the more storage space the images take.  It really has gotten out of hand.  In this case, however, Nokia is using a much larger sensor (to avoid the low light problem to some extent), and perhaps a bit of magic pixie dust, to give you the ability to zoom in without the usual artifacts of digital zoom (which is another bad idea that camera manufacturers are promoting... but don't get me started on that or we'll be here all night)
I haven't seen this phone in action, so I don't know what to expect from it, however, the sample images do look pretty nice.  You'll notice that they are all taken under very bright lighting conditions, so we can't really see how the sensor performs when it is starved for photons, but still, they do look better than most any phone camera images I've seen before.

Of course, now that I've told you all about the technology, I'll tell you that more interesting to me is the process by which this technology came about.  This story, is a nice description by one of the team members about how Nokia got to such an unusual product.  Read it an enjoy.

The story is here.
Sample photos can be found here.

Thanks for the pointer Glenn Edens

Spray on Antennas

Well this is interesting.  These folks claim to have invented a substance the creates incredibly efficient antennas by using nano-particles that can be sprayed onto almost any surface.  They are claiming significant performance improvements over standard antennas.  The secret seems to be in how this goo that you spray onto a tree or clothes or whatever, creates a coating of nanocapacitors that can charge and discharge very quickly without generating a lot of heat, thus creating an efficient antenna.
I really have no idea if this is for real or not, but it sure is a creative approach.  The video is pretty long, but there is an article available here.

Thanks for the pointer Dave.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Doctors will Monitor Your Health in the Future

As many of you know, I've recently been getting interested in gadgets for monitoring health.  There was an interesting article on Gizmodo today about how technology is changing healthcare.   It is an excerpt from the book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the  Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care For Everyone by Dr Eric Topol.  I saw Dr. Topol speak at CES in January, and he and Dr Reed Tuckson represented slightly differing views of how technology is affecting healthcare and what we should do about it.  Dr Topol captured my imagination with the possibilities that new technology brings us.  The excerpt gives a little flavor of this (  I must say, however, that it was Dr. Tuckson (an amazing speaker) who brought me back to reality saying that if you look into it, you find that the biggest contributor to rising health care costs is technology.  These gadgets are expensive.  He suggests that, while he likes gadgets as much as the next guy, we shouldn't all get caught up in the latest health gizmo craze, but instead focus on the things that provide real, measurable benefit.  His book, The Doctor in the Mirror: Living a Longer Healthier, More Joyful Life Starts with You suggests that we will have access to more and more information about ourselves based on widely available inexpensive sensors and the huge amount of information available on the internet.  It is unlikely that a doctor, who is essentially paid for the time spent with you in the office and rarely the time spent researching your case, will act more and more as an advisor to help you make sense of the information you are able to gather about yourself.  Your relationship with your doctor will likely (in good cases) turn much more collaborative.  Together you will sift through the evidence.  You will do most of the legwork yourself and the doctor will help interpret and prescribe when appropriate.  Still the main responsibility is yours.

I haven't read either book yet, but the both look to be quite interesting.

You can get a taste for Dr. Topol's book in the Gizmodo article here.

For those of you who are interested, you can get them on Amazon

The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care

The Doctor in the Mirror: Living a Longer Healthier, More Joyful Life Starts with You


Filmmaker Chris Beckman created this video called Oops, made up of some cleverly edited videos from YouTube.  It won the a Vimeo award in 2010 and was an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.  The whole concept of creating a film out of found footage is pretty interesting and the way it is edited together makes it feel like its some sort of story about the life and times of an abused camera... don't you agree?

He has since been approached to Motorola to make an ad for their "life-proof" smart phone (below).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Interesting Talk at CMU - Dont Miss It!

Carnegie Mellon University has a Silicon Valley campus to allow students to study here in the high tech mecca that is Silicon Valley.  On this campus, they have a weekly technical talk series called Talks On Computing Systems (TOCs) which has had a long line of distinguished speakers.  For example, in two weeks, Ted Hoff, the inventor of the microprocessor will discuss his work.

We at Digital Diner are excited to announce that our very own Widdakay will be speaking as part of this talk series next month!  He was asked to speak about his current science fair project and how he creates the gadgets he builds.  The talk will be technical, so be prepared.  A live webcast will be available, so even if you are not local, you can tune in live at talk time!  Of course, the event will be posted to the Digital Diner Calendar as well.

April 10, 1:30 pm PT
Title:Building a Robot for Autonomously Photo-Documenting Parks
Abstract:In this presentation, I will describe my current project to build an autonomous robot for taking 360˚, Google Street View-style photos of park trails. The project will ultimately consist of a two-wheeled balancing robot platform with a stabilized, panoramic camera and an OpenCV-based vision and path planning system. It is still early in the project, but I will demonstrate the current prototype components and discuss future plans. As background, I will also give you a glimpse of my world. As a young Maker, I have access to complex software technologies and hardware parts to create systems that are surprisingly sophisticated. The wide availability of hardware platforms, such as the Arduino, and open source software are amazing resources for the home hobbyist. I will tell you where I find these tools, how to start using them and, I hope, inspire you to build gadgets of your own.
Speaker Bio:Mr. Meike is a 13 year old homeschooler who is fascinated by hardware and software and loves to create things. He has always been fascinated with how things worked. His first interest was plumbing, then came vacuums, then four stroke engines and then electronics. By the time he was 6 years old, he had created his first simple electronic circuit, etched his own circuit board and soldered it together. In the years since then, he has gone on to design and build several complex systems such as a self-contained, 13 gram device which measures and logs 12 different sensors, to record the flight of a model rocket. He has earned both Technician and General class amateur radio licenses. He has won his category in the San Mateo Science Fair every time he entered, received the Silicon Boule Award at the California State Science Fair, and shown his projects at the Maker Faire on multiple occasions. Four years ago, he and two friends won the North Star Academy Invention Showcase for designing and building an electric car from scratch that was capable of carrying a driver and passenger at speeds that made his parents quite nervous.

More information is available here:

Information on TOCS is available here:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Awesome Lion Photos

© William Burrard-Lucas

© William Burrard-Lucas

The images above are taken of wild lions in their natural habitat.  Yes, the camera really was that close to a wild lion.  The photographers at Burrard-Lucas got these amazing shots by equipping little radio controlled vehicles with thousands of dollars worth of DSLR cameras.  It is something they call the Beetlecam Project.  They can drive the camera right up to these wild animals and take really unusual pictures.  The results are quite striking.  Of course, sometimes the subjects aren't so excited about being part of the project.

Take a look at the video below to see the Beetlcam in action.

Girl Scout is one Tough Cookie

According to this story, two 15- year old Girl Scouts in Texas were selling cookies outside the local Walmart when a thief grabbed their money.  As the he ran off with their money, they gave chase.  One Girl Scout hit the thief repeatedly and the other grabbed on to the car bumper as it began to speed away.  I have three observations:
1) I think these Girl Scouts took some risks that weren't really appropriate, essentially risking their lives for some Thin Mint money...  I do admire their courage though.
2) I think they might have caught the thief off guard with their response.
3) What was this thief thinking?  First off, who steals from Girl Scouts?  But, second, he stole the money instead of the cookies.  Dude... there are Girl Scout cookies here... why bother with the money?  Definitely not thinking straight there...

Read the entire story here

One Second Everyday

On his 30th birthday, Cesar Kuriyan quit his job and started on an interesting project to record one second of video each day for the rest of his life.  The video above shows the ~360 seconds of his 31st year.  By the time he is 40 he will have a one hour video of the entire decade of his 30s.  I find it interesting as a kind of a diary of a year.  I'm surprised by how much information is in that one second of video.  I can imagine how it can probably reignite memories for each day.  He put all this together into a TED talk which has not been released on video yet, but if/when it does show up, I'll be sure to post about it here.

for more info, see and

Monday, March 5, 2012


Motivation is an interesting and complex subject.  Much of the work environment is focused on financial incentives... $money$ The video above seems to say there is much more to it than that.  And, while it is directed mostly toward the work environment, I believe it applies to educational and social situations as well.  In education the system focuses on grade, but that hardly captures the real thrill of learning.  In social situations it is more complex, but clearly it seems to me that the research supports the idea that relationships need to involve support for individual growth.  Good to keep in mind.

What motivates you to be your best??

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mercedes' Invisible Car

I don't know about the fuel cell technology that Mercedes is trying to show off here, but I sure do want to paint my car with LEDs to make it blend in or stand out as appropriate.  Very nice.

iRobot Ava

Well, the video above looks like fun, dont you think?  (some of you may know why I think its great when you see it) The folks at iRobot (the makers of the Roomba) have created a cool robot called Ava that ties in with a tablet computer very nicely.  I think this would be really useful for working with people remotely.

Read more about it here

Snow Art

As you know, I'm a fan of spontaneous public snow art.  These snowshoe trails in the video above are strangely reminiscent of crop circles, yet if you watch the video carefully, there is little doubt of how these designs were made.  No aliens were involved in the creation of these designs. Also, if you watch closely in the first few seconds of the movie, you can see the shadow of the quadcopter that is taking these wonderful shots.... and you know how we feel about quadcopters.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

More on Those Quadcopters


Digital Diner readers know that we love all the cool and wacky stuff that the folks at U Penn are doing with quadcopters.  It appears that the video we recently posted was part of a TED talk that explains some of the work that goes into building those devices and making them do what they do.  Prof Vijay Kumar gives a nice overview of the work they are doing and why he thinks it is important.  Important?  I suppose, but really we just think it is totally cool.

Here are a few of our past quadcopter posts:
More reasons to love quadcopters
Swarms of Quadcopters
Mini Quadcopter
Quadcopters Are Old Hat