SOLS Adaptiv – A Wearable Soft Robot

I was hired by SOLS to help out with their Adaptiv project. The idea was to showcase the procedural modeling techniques, materials, and technologies behind their printed insoles with a futuristic robotic shoe. Jordan Dialto, the industrial design lead at SOLS, approached me in my capacity as lead scientist at Super-Releaser to make a prototype soft robot shoe that could change shape and fit in response to the wearer.

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The external shell (purple) retaining skeleton (grey) and soft actuators (teal) joined together with reference pins to be inserted into the original mesh.

The project started out with an external shell modeled by Continuum Fashion. Although the design was elegant, this posed a challenge for introducing the robotic elements and the engineered components that would stitch everything together. Since the external shell was generated in a mesh CAD program, it didn’t fit into SolidWorks’ reference frame. This meant using the mesh as a reference and generating a simplified surface to extrude the soft robot elements and retaining skeleton from. Continue reading

Pork Pie Stamps

I’ve been really excited to work with Pork Pie Hatters over the last few months. I’ve made hat stands, hat blocks, and some fun laser cut experiments for them and it’s been sincerely fascinating to find ways to blend their classic hand crafting tools and techniques with the kind of digital fabrication that can bring mass production polish to boutique small run items.

As part of defining the look of Pork Pie Hatters products and bringing some cohesion to their packaging, they commissioned me to make a set of huge stamps to brand their cardboard hat boxes. Since these giant roller stamps would be inconvenient to hide away in their stores, I decided to make the whole design fit with the old school aged wood aesthetic of the rest of their equipment. Continue reading

Cultivating Style

I sit here, one of three folks all crammed on a futon, laptops steadily warming our laps, headphones plugged in, all persistently writing. To my right is designer, business owner, and furiously talented metal fabricator Danielle Hills. To my left is arch art director and wig stylist supreme Numidas Prasarn. The three of us collaborated to bring you these photos from Danielle’s most recent show, in which she exposed her brand new fashion line (The Executioner) to the world for the very first time.

You may recognize Danielle’s work from her previous collection, The Surgeon. She brings a unique, organic texture to her objects, while maintaining fairly simple geometries. The closest comparison I can think of offhand is Nervous System, but seen from a handcrafting perspective. You can view the whole series of shots I took of the event over on Flickr. There’s also some more coverage of the night here and here. Continue reading

Art is Wrong: How your Brain Tells you Beautiful Lies

Speaking is intensely exciting. I love sharing, teaching, and lining up all of my thoughts into something concise and convincing. Something about ordering a swarm of swirling tenuous ideas into a coherent presentation makes them more vivid and solid.

I’ve been looking for more opportunities to speak and on my hunt for possible events to pursue I stumbled across the Extreme Futurist Festival put on by Michael Anissimov and Rachel Haywire. It seemed like an interesting gathering of tech enthusiasts, new media junkies, teachers, singularity proselytizers, and a huge varied random smattering of people I thought it would be fun to talk with. Plus Alex Peake was going to be there, and it was impossible to refuse an opportunity to catch up on what he’s been up to. Continue reading

The Anywhere Organ at Maker Faire

Howdy, y’all. Come out and see the Anywhere Organ in action at this year’s World Maker Faire. I’m going to be setting up a keyboard for people to play with, a laptop to run some sweet MIDI tunes, and there might even be some special musical guests. I’ve also got a Kickstarter going to raise funds for a bigger, better, more amazing version. Check it out at http://kck.st/anywhereorgan

You can see a sweet video of the organ in action after the jump.  Continue reading

The Anywhere Organ and Figment, NYC

As the latest crest in more than a year’s work, the Anywhere Organ has premiered at Figment, NYC.  I’m pretty elated. There’s still lots to do in making it the window shattering monster interactive megalith I’m building towards, but it’s exciting to have a live performance with a working sculpture under my belt.

I’ve got a little more detail and a few pics on the main Anywhere Organ site. There are a bunch more photos from Tony Lanza on Flickr. I’ll be doing a full writeup with some code and plans soon. Keep an eye out.

If you’d like to catch the Anywhere Organ and happen to be in the New York area, you should check it out at the Lost Circus party on July 16. It will be playing along with Aaron Kuffner’s fantastic Gamelatron.

The Anywhere Organ Continues

After much doing of things I’ve come up with the next big thing for the Anywhere Organ. This particular prototype was created in SolidWorks and then made all pretty with Illustrator. Again, the whole thing’s made of 3/4″ plywood cut out on an industrial laser.

There’s still a load left to do before I can call everything done, but I’m closer to completing this thing than I’ve ever been. All the fastenings and fits have tested beautifully, the design is pretty, and things seem to be working out, mechanically. It’s just in time, too, because the Anywhere Organ has been invited to premiere at the Figment Festival NYC next month .

Check out more of the Anywhere Organ on Flickr.

Anon-O-Lantern

I drift through zones of being pro and anti-pumpkin. There are times when the tiny little saws don’t break and I’m not clearing vast swatches of diamond hard pumpkin jizm off the kitchen table that I think to myself “You know, pumpkin carving isn’t all that bad.”

I’ve discovered, over the years, that pumpkin etching, painting, sculpting, and mechanizing are far more rewarding to wit: my Guy Fawkes Jack-O-Lantern. Observe ye mighty and despair. Continue reading

Mario Hair

I’m a fan of elaborate Halloween costumes. I’m also an enormous fan of home built fx projects, like Missmonster’s full body werewolf costume, and about everything Volpin Props has ever made. Back in ’05 I got an itch to create a Dr. Mario costume. Of course for any successful Mario costume, you need the signature jet black Mario coiffe and pillowy mustache.

I lost a fair amount of facial hair that day

It started out with bribing some friends to wrap me in plaster bandages. The process was pretty painless, all in all, with the exception of removing my face from the plaster mold. I’d used oil as a release, but had been kind of liberal with it around my eyebrows and lashes. Unsurprisingly they stuck in the mold, which made the subsequent foam cast of it kind of eerie. The new foam head came out with my eyelashes embedded in it. Continue reading

The Anywhere Organ

Painting organ bits late at night.

I’m developing an enormous interactive musical sculpture called the Anywhere Organ. It uses organ pipes, salvaged from discarded church organs. With a combination of some electronics and CAD I’ve designed a system that can easily be expanded to more voices and pipes as I gather more pipes and add to the instrument.

This sculpture is about replicating all the most incredible aspects of pipe organs: the way they fill a space with sound, how the instrument and the building that houses it are all part of the same sonic system playing each other, how beautiful the pipes are when seen rank upon rank together, how they can mix different voices and instruments together to create complex other-worldly sounds. The crucial difference between your ordinary run-of-the-mill organ and the Anywhere Organ is that the Anywhere Organ can be brought anywhere, turning any space into a cathedral of sound.

Since church organs are fading out, steadily being replaced by digital music systems, it’s become easy to find salvaged organ parts. I’ve created a design that can easily be scaled to fit any collection of pipes from any organ. That means I can integrate pipes from hundreds of different derelict organs into one complete instrument.

Dynamically generated CAD through SolidWorks.

I’d like to make the Anywhere Organ as large, beautiful, and easy to play as possible. I’d like to create elaborate installations that make music in response to people dancing. I’d like to hybrid with musicians to make Bach concertos in abandoned buildings.

I’ve been building and refining designs for nearly two years, trying to produce a bulletproof installation that can survive the slings and arrows of ad hoc public installations. One of the major advantages of doing my prototyping through laser cutting is that different iterations are quick to produce and aren’t hampered by imperfections in execution. What you draw is what you get when it comes to laser cutting.

Me holding up the "Editor's Choice" award at World Maker Faire 2011.

The organ has played at World Maker Faire 2011 (where it won an “Editor’s Choice” award), the Lost Circus, Figment NYC, and the Amanda Palmer Kickstarter Countdown (where it was played by the Grand Theft Orchestra and Amanda Palmer herself). It has been featured on the Dark Roasted BlendKickstarterCoilhouse, and MakeZINEFEAST and The Awesome Foundation have been absolutely instrumental in the process of bringing this idea to fruition. I also had a massive surge of help from Kickstarter, recently, funding the Anywhere Organ to the tune of $3001!

For a running record of my progress you should take a look at http://anywhereorgan.tumblr.com. The source for the Anywhere Organ has also been released on Thingiverse.