LUMOback is a $149 sensor that is worn around the waist and reminds its wearer to have good posture while sitting or standing. It also pairs with an iPhone to track posture over time and even counts steps (so it can double as a basic fitness tracker.)
LUMOback is a great example of a trend we’ve talked about before, of single-purpose, dedicated hardware device innovation that goes beyond what a smartphone alone can do.
“The Woodpeckers”, by Matthew Kaney, is a set of 5 wooden box drums of various sizes that uses MIDI as input to control electromagnetic pistons to strike the drums — a fascinating use of technology to produce an warm, organic natural.
Here’s a project that takes things in the opposite direction from The Woodpeckers: “Da Gloves” are wearable MIDI controller gloves with LED accent lights. According to Spencer Shafter, the creator, the inputs can be used with any standard MIDI device, including drum kits, pattern sequencers and other MIDI controllers. Looks like these gloves can be played off of any flat surface or even trigger by waving around in the air.
Arduino doesn’t provide much in the way of computational power for synthesis, but it’s just the ticket for bit-crushing and other lo-fi uses like this guitar pedal by Kyle Mcdonald. Complete instructions for this project are available here on Instructables.com
The BBC has produced a setup that determine how hard a live band and its audience is “rocking” during a live performance by measuring things like crowd movement and by analyzing the music. In an age of lip-synching and auto-tuning, we applaud the BBC’s efforts to use technology to reward good old-fashioned rocking.
Stephen Hobley’s Laser Harp is an impressive instrument that uses lasers as the basis of a MIDI controller (so it can be used to generate all kinds of sounds or to control any MIDI-capable controller or instrument. Somewhat like a traditional harp, sounds are triggered by touching the laser beams and modulated by adjusting the position within the beam.
What Arduino and the Raspberry Pi have been doing for electronics, 3D printers are bringing to manufacturing. Precision plastic parts that a few years ago would have required a manufacturer and thousands of dollars for a custom mold can now be modeled in Sketchup, prototyped for $50 on Shapeways, and delivered to your door in a couple of weeks.
What’s more, personal desktop 3D printers are dropping in price, improving in quality and getting easier to use. Here are some of the latest products we’re watching.
Industry leader MakerBot unveiled their latest, the Replicator 2X, at CES earlier this month. It’s an incremental improvement over its predecessor, but it demonstrates how the pace of innovation is picking up. The first Replicator was announced only a year ago, and the Replicator 2 came out in September last year.
Form 1 (pictured above) was a blockbuster success on Kickstarter a couple of months ago, raising almost $3 million. Most 3D printers on the market print objects by laying down layers of extruded plastic. The Form 1 uses a completely different approach, stereolithograpy, which allows for much finer resolution, with layers only 25 microns thick. That’s four times the resolution of the top of the line MakerBot. They also win points for sleek styling.
The RoBo 3D printeris another Kickstarter project that’s already reached almost 10 times its campaign goal (with 3 days left to go). While the Form 1 focuses on improving quality, the RoBo 3D is looking at price. RoBo 3D offers a decent quality, large build volume, fully-assembled 3D printer for only $520. At the price of an iPad that’s getting into the range of an impulse buy. How long before a tool like this is common place in classrooms around the country?
Filabot isn’t a 3D printer at all, but it answers one of the biggest concerns with 3D printing: the material. Inkjet printers have long had a business model of giving away the machine and charging a fortune for the ink. There is a parallel with 3D printers. The promise is, as MakerBot says, an “inexhaustible supply of awesome.” But the plastic costs $20 a pound. The Filabot addresses this problem by processing any recycled plastic into usable filament. All of a sudden you have effectively limitless material to work with.
3D printing is no longer the exclusive domain of the hardcore enthusiast. Fast, cheap prototyping of sophisticated physical goods is becoming affordable and attainable for just about everyone. Here’s a handy comparison chart of 3D printers starting at a few hundred dollars.