Bigshot: Focus on Cool!

I can only hope that this eventually makes it into the regular market:

A camera designed for kids can be much more than just a toy: it can serve as a powerful educational medium.  We believe that such an educational camera must have a radically different design from that of a typical consumer camera.   (a) It should be designed as a kit for assembly by students.  The assembly process should not only demystify the workings of the camera, but also expose students to various science and engineering concepts.  (b) It should include features that cannot be found in other cameras, allowing students to explore new creative dimensions.   (c) It should be low-cost, with the potential to serve as the basis for a scalable social venture.  Bigshot has been designed with these goals in mind.

The killer is the rotating lens board on the front. The lens wheel (or polyoptic wheel as it’s called)has three settings: normal, panoramic, and stereo. Normal is what you would think  it is, normal photo. The panoramic lens gives you a 72 degree field of view and creates a nice barrel distortion, and the stereo is a small prism that acts as a beam splitter to shoot a left and right image onto the sensor.Software that comes with the camera will adjust the distortion from the pano lens and create red/blue anaglyph stereo images when you use the beam splitter. Oh, did I mention that the camera can be powered by either a single AA battery or a few cranks on the built in dynamo?

[via MAKE]

Bigshot: A Camera for Education.

FUTUREPICTURE: Light Field Camera Project

Multi camera madness to be sure…

So, what does this thing do? The primary function of this array is to capture the Light Field, a four-dimensional function that is capable of describing all rays in a scene. Surrounding you, now, and always, is a reverberating volume of light. Just as sound echoes around a room in complex ways, bouncing from every surface, so does light, creating a structured volume. Traditional, single-lens cameras project this three dimensional world of reflected light onto a two dimensional sensor, tossing out the 3D information in the process, and capturing only a faint, sheared sliver of the actual light field. By taking many captures at slightly shifted locations, it is possible to capture a crude representation of the light field. The number of slices determines the resolution of capture; our 12 captures at 7cm separation is a bare minimum. What can you do with a light field? The lowest hanging fruit is computational refocusing. By computational refocusing, we mean focusing the image AFTER it is captured.


Ice Rockets Away!

Very nice, I like the part about the propellant being frozen while it’s being loaded into the motor.

Researchers are developing a new type of rocket propellant made of a frozen mixture of water and “nanoscale aluminum” powder that is more environmentally friendly than conventional propellants and could be manufactured on the moon, Mars and other water-bearing bodies.

New aluminum-water rocket propellant promising for future space missions.

Air Powered Microprocessor

Air powered CPU
I seriously doubt that you will be playing Super Mario Brothers on this any time soon but it would be fantastic for a self operating chemical analysis machine.

Each pneumatic valve is operated by changing the air pressure in a small chamber below the air channel, separated from the circuit by a flexible impermeable membrane. When the lower chamber is filled with air the membrane pushes upwards and closes the valve, preventing the binary signal flowing across one of the processor’s junctions.
Sucking out the air from the chamber reopens the valve by forcing the membrane downwards, letting the signal move across the junction.The two researchers used the valve-controlled channels to produce a variety of logic gates, flip-flops and shift registers, which they linked together to create a working 8-bit microprocessor. That means that the longest discrete pieces of data it can handle are eight binary digits long, like the processors used in 1980s consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System.

New microprocessor runs on thin air

Pass the bread, I want healthy arteries

Yeah, I know the title of this post is misleading but you have to admit it’s funny. I’m all for eating a well balanced diet, all this no-carb high veg diet stuff has never sounded healthy to me. Sure, you shouldn’t be eating a pound of pretzels followed but 2 liters of diet soda every night. You do that and you had better ring up the funeral home of your choice and reserve a spot. Moderation must be the key to all this ‘food is good/bad for you’ nonsense. Have a hand full of pretzels and few gulps of soda and go find something else to do to distract you from your zombie like mouth stuffing habits. I suggest taking up juggling or learning card tricks. The world needs more juggling prestidigitators.

BBC NEWS | Health | Low-carb diets ‘damage arteries’.

Up, Up, and Away in My Beautiful Balloon Chair…

Watch-Kents-July-5th-Launch-and-Track-His-Flight-LiveYou know, this just look relaxing and fun. Never mind the possibility that you could get hit by a plane, sucked up in a storm cloud, pelted and ultimately killed by hail, or just go unconscious and freeze to death before you plummet to the ground and a heap of latex and lawn chair. As hobbies go I’m all for this one. Lets hope he continues to make flights.

Kent Couch, devoted husband, father of five and gas station owner, seems like just another man but underneath the surface, you’ll find a characteristic not quite normal. While most men have a passion for sports or hunting, Kent has a passion for cluster ballooning, much to the chagrin of his supportive wife, Susan.

Couch Balloons