Robotic People Sweeper

Now I’m all for robots helping in our lives but this is kind of weird. These are apparently photos of a series of robotic rescue devices. The idea is that they can gently (I hope!) remove people from places that firefighters can’t get to due to smoke of heat. I’m sure that there are newer versions that don’t look like something that is out of some sci-fi ‘robots are going to eat all humans’ kind of movie. At least I hope that is the case.

[via Tokyo Times]
Unmanned rescue robot ([robokiyu]) translated page via Google

Japanese Ad Supported Vending Machines?

Delight vending machine
Cool, in Japan you may be able to get a yummy drink not for hard earned Yen but for a slice of time. A company has plans to introduce vending machines that will offer free drinks is you agree to watch a 30 second commercial. I have no idea how the machines will verify if you are watching, face sensing algorithm I suppose. Maybe it will void the offer if your eyes lose track. I might work. If so this will become a target of clever people looking to get some free drinks.

[via lonelocust]
Coming Soon in Japan: Free drink vending machines!!

Tokyo Iconic Modern Micros to be Demolished

Nakagin Capsule Tower - Photo by Jergen SpechtOh man, Kisho Kurokawa’s timeless (in my opinion) 140 unit capsule apartment complex in the Ginza of  Tokyo is going to be knocked down and replaced with a new 14 story building. This is sad day in modern architecture if you ask me. The towers were very innovative back in 1972 and still are. The building has a core utility and access towers and the apartment capsules plug into them like cords on a power strip. Kurokawa came up with a clever renovation solution:

"For his part, Kurokawa has pleaded to let the Capsule Tower express one of its original design qualities: flexibility. He suggested “unplugging” each box and replacing it with an updated unit, letting the base towers —which he calls “timeless”—remain untouched. Japan’s four major architectural organizations, including the Japan Institute of Architects, support this scheme. But the building’s management remained unconvinced and raised concerns regarding the towers’ ability to withstand earthquakes, as well as its inefficient use of valuable land. The new building will increase floor area by 60 percent."

Now I regret even more that fact that I was not able to visit this historic building on my trip to Japan. However, if the owners of the capsules are looking into cashing in on the amazingly high land prices in Tokyo there is little to stop them. I hope that the modules can be removed and relocated to different places, maybe even to museums so the design can be enjoyed but the masses of the world.

[via inhabitat]
Icon of Modern Prefab to be Demolished

Memories of Japan

Japan 2002 Flickr photo set After years of thinking about it I have decided that it is high time that I post my Japan 2002 trip photos to Flickr. I had all of them on my old gallery page on TeamDroid but after this last move I have decided not to install the software again. It breaks every time I have to move my files and that has been quite a bit lately.
Getting everything right in Flickr is very time consuming. Each photo has key information that I need to enter into the meta data fields. Things like title and description are somewhat simple. Just a basic name of the subject of the photo and some thought about the image. The tags are a bit harder as I am attempting to use Japanese text on some of them. Things like ‘??‘ (Japan) and "??" (Tokyo) are easy but it’s a little harder with ‘???‘ (vending machine). I still have to add the images to groups but that will be much later. I’m not looking forward to that part of the project.
In reviewing these photos I’m amazed at just how poorly my Nikon 950 did while I was there. I think it’s mostly the 180 degree fish eye lens that I used on a lot of my images. I love the effect but the edge focus and fringing goes to hell if the aperture isn’t stopped way down. Oh well, I still got some pretty good photos. I’m looking forward to my next trip where I can use newer equipment and get a chance to take some film cameras with me (actually I did have one film camera on this trip. I had my stereo Realist format camera with me but the shutter broke on the second day)
Not all of these are ‘award winners’ by any stretch of the word. These are just vacation snaps, memories of fantastic journey.
So, once this lengthy process is finished my Japan 2002 set will be done. Then it will be time for my trips to Oregon, Fargo, South Dakota, and a bunch of other places.

Japan 2002 set

PET Creatures Made From Recycled Plastic Water Bottles

PET creaturesBy working plastic water bottles made of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) with heat guns, soldering irons, and knives artist Miwa Kozumi transforms trash into beautiful works of art. I expect that any day now there will be new forms of these creatures popping up from other creators. Maybe someone will post a tutorial on how to build them. It’s not like there is any shortage of working material, I mean from my desk I can see at least six empties waiting to be disposed of. Humm… I could do with a nice jellyfish PET pet next to my PC.

PET project – plastic water bottles