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  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 06:00
    Earth becomes art in breathtaking satellite imagery #ArtTuesday


    Earth becomes art in breathtaking satellite imagery The Verge

    The Verge has posted a bunch of pictures from the Earth as Art collection which were taken via satellite.

    From above, the Vatnajokull Glacier is an eerie splash of blue against the florid hues of the surrounding landscape. This image of Iceland’s Skaftafell National Park was taken by a satellite miles above the Earth. It’s beautiful and also just one of the many geographical wonders showcased in the Earth as Art Collection.

    Unlike most of the satellite images captured by the Landsat 7 satellite, these were taken for their aesthetic value and not for scientific purposes. The color-enhanced photographs not only reveal a view of the planet few will ever see but also a glimpse of natural phenomenons like a giant whirlpool cloud parked above the sea between Spain and Morocco.

    The entire Earth as Art collection is free to download from Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Image Gallery. It’s also possible to purchase printed copies of the satellite images from the US Geological Survey store.

    Read more.

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    Screenshot 4 2 14 11 48 AMEvery Tuesday is Art Tuesday here at Adafruit! Today we celebrate artists and makers from around the world who are designing innovative and creative works using technology, science, electronics and more. You can start your own career as an artist today with Adafruit’s conductive paints, art-related electronics kits, LEDs, wearables, 3D printers and more! Make your most imaginative designs come to life with our helpful tutorials from the Adafruit Learning System. And don’t forget to check in every Art Tuesday for more artistic inspiration here on the Adafruit Blog!

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 00:00
    This knitwear designer/cardiac radiographer is turning brain scans into fashion


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    The Libertine has the story on Brooke Roberts, a knitwear designer/cardiac radiographer who’s doing some very cool things with fashion design.

    Knitwear designer Brooke Roberts is a busy woman. By day, she works as a cardiac radiographer at King’s College Hospital in South London. By night she designs knitwear based on her patients’ CT and MRI scans. Her innovative approach to design has seen her awarded 2011 Creative in Residence at London’s Hospital Club, owned by Microsoft Co-Founder Paul G Allen, and she has consulted luxury brands on their approach to knits. The link to the Hospital Club has provided additional source material; Brooke has used brain mapping images from the Allen Brain Institute in Seattle in several fabrics.

    “Being a radiographer means analysing images. It’s heavily aesthetic-based, so when I’m working as a radiographer, I’m looking at fluoroscopic x-ray images all day and I even create images through fluoroscopy and live x-rays’, she explains.

    “A fluoroscopic image is different from single shot diagnostic imagery, which produces a single image,’ she continues, ‘Fluoroscopic imagery acquires a certain number of frames-per-second, so it provides real-time moving images on the screen. The images help me with ideas about shape and form and about how to construct art works that can mould and map the body. I’m always taking ideas from what I’m seeing, whether it’s medical or non-medical and I focus on what interests me as a person.

    “My research has extended way beyond the images I create. It started at radiography and has grown as a concept which involves looking at the body broken down into images and how that can be made into fabric.’

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    Four years ago, after working with other designers, Brooke felt confident enough to go it alone. She set up Brooke Roberts Knitwear and already supplies luxury knitwear products to Browns in South Molton Street in London’s Mayfair. Her label is also stocked online at Avenue 32.

    Since her university days at Sydney, Brooke says she’s always harboured a love of science and an interest in fashion, but never thought the two careers could co-exist so harmoniously. It wasn’t until she began collaborating with another designer that she gained the relevant experience. Together they developed a tailored way of cutting knit that was like cutting cloth. It’s complex, as the level of detail in a medical image is so enormous that it makes it impossible to condense it into a knitting machine. But Brooke relishes a challenge; this turned out to be pioneering research.

    “MRI and CT scans lend themselves well to knit, she says. ‘They are digital files and at their most basic level, they are pixels and in a knitting machine a pixel is a stitch, so they’re programmable, and they do translate. But you’d need a machine that was hundreds of metres wide to cope with that level of detail!’, she laughs.

    ‘So I had to go through a process of translation. I can simplify medical images and I can enhance or reduce their definition and make the image just black or white. It’s called the ‘grey scale’ in medical terms. When I play with the image, it loses its texture and becomes flat and then I can make that translate’.

    Brooke is able to work with existing computer programmes using a mixture of sketching, Photoshop and Illustrator to develop what she imagines her garment should look like. At this point it becomes a file that will work with a digital knitting machine.

    Read more.

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  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:14
    NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit LED Sequins – Rose Pink – Pack of 5


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    NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit LED Sequins – Rose Pink – Pack of 5: Sew a little sparkle into your wearable project with an Adafruit LED Sequin. These are the kid-sister to our popular Flora NeoPixel, they only show a single color and they don’t have digital control, but that makes them smaller easier to use for many projects.

    Simply connect 3 to 6VDC to the + pin and ground to the – pin, and the LED on the board will light up. You can make the LEDs fade and twinkle by using the PWM (a.k.a. analogWrite) functionality of your Gemma or Flora, or just connect directly to a digital I/O pin of a microcontroller to turn on and off. Or even skip the micro altogether, and power directly from a LiPoly or coin battery.

    This order comes with 5 Rose Pink “1206 size” LEDs, matched with a 100 ohm resistor. When powered from 3.3V they draw about 5mA so you can put up to 4 or 5 in parallel on a single microcontroller pin. We also have these sequins in ruby red, emerald green, royal blue, and warm white.

    In stock and shipping now!

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  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:11
    Rev C and BeagleBoard Compliant Element14 BeagleBone Black


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    Addressing the enormous demand for BeagleBone Blacks, BeagleBoard.org is introducing a Rev C BeagleBone Black and enabling a BeagleBoard Compliant Element14 BeagleBone Black.

    Rev C increases the on-board eMMC size from 2GB of eMMC to 4GB and switches the included image from Angstrom Distribution to Debian. A slight price increase helps cover the cost for the larger eMMC and to pay to expedite production at CircuitCo.

    Element14 is also coming on as a producer of BeagleBoard Compliant boards. While they are not the official BeagleBoard.org boards being quality controlled directly by Gerald, they are identical in function and built from the same design materials, confirmed to run the same software.

    Both of these moves are meant to help address the large demand for boards and get them into your hands faster. Expectation is to clear existing backlog orders by mid-May. Keep tuned to Adafruit’s stock, however, as Rev B boards will continue to show up as Rev C production is ramped.

    Read more.

     

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:00
    How To Make Horns With Just Cardboard and Hot Glue


    cosplay horns in progress

    Horns are a handy cosplay accessory to have in your toolkit. They’re great for fantasy costumes you put together at the last minute and are a fit for a variety of costume situations such as the renaissance faire. If you don’t want to make horns from clay, which can be heavy, you can fashion them from cardboard and hot glue. DeviantArt user MonkeyNumber5 cut cardboard into strips, rolled them, and glued them together. Once they’re dry, you can paint them and attach them to a headband or ribbon.

    See the entire tutorial at DeviantArt.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:00
    This Font Made From CGI Skin Will Make You Feel Gross #ArtTuesday


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    CGI software a brand new and totally absurb sculpted font. by Liz Stinton

    Computer-generated imagery software has given us some truly wonderful gifts: Avatar, Jurassic Park, and that creepy dancing man, to name just a few. Also? These totally absurd, photorealistic letters.

    Created by German design studio FOREAL, the typography project began as an extracurricular activity to the company’s advertising work. Founders Benjamin Simon and Dirk Shuster were looking to sharpen their 4-D animation chops beyond the strict briefs and parameters they usually worked within. Working with clients offered little room for experimentation, even less for a typographic free for all. “That’s when we decided to do a sculpted alphabet,” Simon and Schuster explain. “And we found out it was great fun.”

    The letters range from gorgeous to shudder-inducing. Take the letter “K,” for example, which appears to be make from a knobby slab of pasty skin sprouting moles and hair. Then there’s “Y,” a stretch of translucent blue goo dripping from a pair of broken eggs. A lowercase “I” looks like a Snickers broken at the tip to create dot, and “D” appears carved out of moon rock. “Our inspirations came from specific objects we’ve seen,” they explain. “And some of the letters were born in a random experimenting phase.”

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    Each letter was constructed in CGI as a sculpted model. The team says the most common way to build a virtual 3-D shape is the box modeling method, which uses geometric mesh or shapes as a base. “These are very efficient and fast ways to build up something artificial,” the duo says. “But if you want to create organic stuff, a naturally looking irregular form, these modeling tools come to their limits.”

    Sculpting, on the other hand, begins with a 3-D model that’s already roughly the object’s final form. In the case of the letters, “it has already the basic shape of the final letter but looks more like a edgy low resolution version without any details,” they explain. The software allows the artist to smooth the mesh, essentially turning a rough virtual model into digital clay that can be finessed into a photorealistic object.

    The attention to detail makes it clear the designers considered how an object exists in real life. For instance, how does a candle build up its hardened drizzles of wax? “While burning down a candle the liquid wax drips down step by step, it dries get hard and the next layer of liquid wax follows and so on,” they say. “So we did exactly the same thing in Cinema 4D to achieve the same. Drip by drip – layer by layer.”

    Though the images look real, FOREAL’s typography isn’t hyper-realistic. Rather, it occupies a strange place between photorealism and surrealism. “It’s important for us to have realistic parts but it never was just to create a hyper-realistic reproduction of existing objects,” the founders say. “Our biggest aim is to create bold and graphic illustration with a surreal twist.”

    See More


    Screenshot 4 2 14 11 48 AMEvery Tuesday is Art Tuesday here at Adafruit! Today we celebrate artists and makers from around the world who are designing innovative and creative works using technology, science, electronics and more. You can start your own career as an artist today with Adafruit’s conductive paints, art-related electronics kits, LEDs, wearables, 3D printers and more! Make your most imaginative designs come to life with our helpful tutorials from the Adafruit Learning System. And don’t forget to check in every Art Tuesday for more artistic inspiration here on the Adafruit Blog!

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:00
    3D Printed Emotive Quadruped Robot


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    3D Printed Emotive Quadruped by antpgomes

    This week my students from Computing in the Creative Arts had a public exhibit of their term projects. This project is close to my heart as I worked closely with this particular group of students who despite having very little technical background were deeply passionate about creating an interactive robot capable of expressing emotions and interacting with people.

    The students involved were

    Lauren Abramsky,

    Kristy Titanic,

    Jesse Shaw

    I have submitted this project to the robots and arduino contests.

    I present you “Goon Quad”. In this version, Goon Quad has 4 prerecorded states (“angry”,”party”,”confused”,”breathe”), triggered by the touch of a person in areas specified by the eyebrows and a tattoo that read “Mom”, painted with bare conductive and used as capacitive sensors.

    To enable the robot to record new motions, 8 analog feedback servos were used. As of now, we are only using one leg to record and translating it into the remaining 3. v2 will feature a fully programmable robot. Here’s an example of the recording motion in action (1st video just arms, 2nd video arms and base) In the step by step I will provide all the .stl files and early iterations of the robot.

    See Full Tutorial

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 22:00
    Scientists discover efficient way to turn carbon monoxide into ethanol


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    IEEE Spectrum has a post about a new discovery out of Stanford University.

    Biofuels, once hailed as a planetary savior and alternative to oil and gas, have not quite fulfilled that destiny. Traditional, mass-produced biofuels from crops such as corn carry a litany of problems, including land use issues and questions of life cycle emissions. If we could generate usable fuels from more benign sources, it could go a long way toward solving a host of energy and environmental problems. A team at Stanford University reports today in Nature that they have a novel way to produce ethanol from carbon monoxide (CO) gas using a metal catalyst made of copper nanocrystals.

    “We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure—a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction,” said senior study author and Stanford chemistry professor Matthew Kanan in a press release.

    Copper is the only material known to electroreduce CO down to generate fuels, but it does so at extremely low efficiencies. Kanan’s group improved this with a nanocrystalline form of copper produced from copper oxide; this new material improves the efficiency of the reactions dramatically.

    The researchers built a fuel cell, including a cathode made of the new copper nanocrystals, and suspended it in CO-saturated water; a small voltage applied across the fuel cell generates the resulting ethanol products. The Faraday efficiency using the oxide-derived material was 57 percent, meaning more than half of the current used went toward producing ethanol and acetate. Standard copper particles, meanwhile, produced hydrogen almost exclusively (Faraday efficiency of 96 percent) and very little ethanol.

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 21:53
    NASA to provide live coverage and commentary of April 15 Lunar Eclipse


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    Will you be staying up all night to see the lunar eclipse? NASA will be providing live coverage so you can find out all the information about what is going on from some very informed sources!

    The public will have the opportunity to view and learn more about the Tuesday, April 15 total lunar eclipse on NASA television, the agency’s website, and social media. Coverage begins at 2 a.m. EDT and will last about three hours. The eclipse’s peak, when the moon will enter the Earth’s full shadow or umbra, will occur at 3:45 a.m.

    The United States will be in a prime orbital position and time of day to view the eclipse. Depending on local weather conditions, the public will get a spectacular view looking into the sky as the moon’s appearance will change from bright orange to blood red to dark brown and perhaps gray. The eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon in the Earth’s shadow. The United States will not be able to witness a full lunar eclipse in its entirety again until 2019.

    Leading up to the eclipse, NASA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Monday, April 14 at 2 p.m. with astronomers from the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Various NASA researchers also will be available for media interviews. NASA Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Instagram followers will be able to join the conversation and ask questions using the hashtag #eclipse.

    The public will be able to tag and share their images of the eclipsed moon on Instagram and on the agency’s Flickr group at:
    https://www.flickr.com/groups/nasalunareclipse

    Lunar eclipse video resources are available at:
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/Gallery/2014TotalLunarEclipse.html

    Live NASA TV coverage and commentary will begin at 1 a.m. To view the coverage and access eclipse streaming video, visit:
    http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

    For more information on NASA’s eclipse activities, visit:

    http://go.nasa.gov/1kkfFXX

    Read more and share your eclipse experiences in the comments!

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 21:06
    Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace


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    Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace @ WSJ.com.

    Google Inc. said Monday it agreed to buy Titan Aerospace, a startup maker of high-altitude drones, as the Internet search giant adds more aerial technology to collect images and get more of the world’s population online. Google didn’t disclose a purchase price for Titan, of Moriarty, N.M., whose solar-powered drones are intended to fly for years.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 20:00
    Six women who paved the way for female engineers and architects #WomenInSTEM


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    Gizmodo has a great post on 2 inspirational women who paved the way for female engineers and architects. Above is Margaret Ingels, the first woman to receive a graduate degree in mechanical engineering in the US.

    Because there was no architecture school at the University of Kentucky, Margaret Ingels studied engineering at the suggestion of professor, and became the first woman to receive a graduate degree in mechanical engineering in the country. She worked across a wide range of emerging technologies at the time, including at the Chicago Telephone Company and the United States Bureau of Mines.

    But an early fascination with air conditioning—not a prevalent technology in the early 1900s!—led her to Carrier Lyle Heating and Ventilation Corporation, where she helped develop the Anderson-Armspach dust determinator, which became the industry standard for air filtration, as well as the sling psychrometer, which measures air humidity and is still used today. She was well-known for her lectures and traveled across the country to deliver them, including one entitled “Petticoats and Slide Rules.”

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    This is Emily Warren Roebling, a chief engineer on the project to use caissons on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Marrying into a family of engineers was fortuitous for Emily Warren: Her husband was Washington Roebling, a civil engineer, and father-in-law was John A. Roebling, who developed the revolutionary design for the Brooklyn Bridge. Emily and Washington traveled together to Paris to study the possibility of using caissons on the Brooklyn Bridge, a new technology that used pressurized chambers to allow workers to install bridge pilings underwater. John contracted tetanus after he crushed his foot during construction, and Washington took over as chief engineer—but Washington, sadly, succumbed to the very technology he championed, getting decompression sickness and staying bedridden during the final phase of construction.

    For 14 years, Emily acted as chief engineer on the project while fighting to ensure that Washington did not lose credit for his work. In 1883, she was the first person to cross the finished Brooklyn Bridge in a carriage.

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    Above is Aine Brazil.

    As vice chairman of the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, Aine Brazil has been responsible for overseeing groundbreaking methods that have allowed some of the world’s tallest and most unique buildings and infrastructure projects to be constructed.

    The Irish native worked at engineering firm Arup before starting at Thornton Tomasetti, where she was the lead structural engineer for 11 Times Square, a game-changing skyscraper for the Midtown neighborhood. Brazil is currently working on the Hudson Yards development, which will use a concrete “apron” to float six city blocks over a train yard.

    Head over to Gizmodo to see the rest of the list.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:13
    Adafruit Reaches 8 Million YouTube Views!


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    Adafruit’s YouTube channel has surpassed eight million views! Thanks to each and every one of you for each and every time you click that ‘play’ button, and here’s to the next eight million– cheers!

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  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:00
    nastya nudnik adds emotion to paintings with social media symbols


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    Check out this amusing intersection of art and technology by Nastya Nudnik, from designboom.

    kiev-based artist nastya nudnik inserts symbols of the internet age into classic fine art, paring popular emoticons with recognizable painted works. ‘emoji-nation’ comprises series’ of familiar images that have been appropriated from renowned artists, from edward hopper to michelangelo. these works are brought into the 21st century with the addition of smiling icons reminiscent of iMessage, pop-up alerts from the windows interface and emblems from instagram found ubiquitously throughout the app. each motif cleverly and humorously represents the sentiment of the scene, bringing life and real human moments to the static setting.

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    Read more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 18:55
    Smart Measuring Cup using an Arduino Yun and an eTape liquid level sensor



    Smart Measuring Cup using an Arduino Yun and an eTape liquid level sensor at the Adafruit Learning System.

    This guide will show you how to build a smart measuring cup which displays the volume of liquid in real time on a web page. No longer will you need to squint and guess while measuring liquids; the smart measuring cup’s web page clearly shows the measured volume, and even converts between units or tares measurements like a digital scale!

    The brains behind the smart measuring cup are an Arduino Yun and an eTape liquid level sensor. The Yun is the perfect platform for this project because it can read sensor data with it’s ATmega microcontroller, and serve a web application (written in python and Flask) using it’s Linux-based processor. By following this guide you can even learn how to send sensor data to a web page for your own projects.

    Learn more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 18:00
    NovaBooth – Open Source Photobooth – As Seen on Adafruit Show-and-Tell!


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    Last week, Kevin Osborn showed off the
    NovaBooth – Open Source Photobooth, and used it to snap a photobooth selfie and email it automatically (along with his contact details!) to Adafruit Support to request an “As seen on Show and Tell” sticker!

    …we (the Wyolum Gang) created a photobooth for the Open Hardware Summit, for the purpose of customizing the e-paper badges we made for the conference attendees. This processed the pictures into a small black and white image for the e-paper badge, and saved it onto the badge’s micro-sd card.

    I was headed to help out at the Northern Virginia Maker Faire, and thought it would be fun to update the photobooth to take full color pictures, upload them to the Internet and offer to email them to friends and relatives. The email message and logo files are easy to add and customize.

    For basic construction, visit the original post, but download the new software here on github….

    Read More.

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  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 17:58
    Check Out This Toy Story-Star Wars Crossover Costume


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    Both Darth Vader and Emperor Zurg are bad guys, so why not mix them up? Instructables user Luis Linares made this fun mash-up costume for his daughter from materials such as a trash can, a plastic viking helmet, and plastic canvas. The finished product looks cool and only a little frightening. Here’s how he started with the helmet:

    I started off with an Office Trash Can. I freehanded the eyes and mouth with a marker where I was going to cut with a Dremel. I also cut off the top [of the] head in a 45 [degree angle] so I could add the gray foam mat piece in front of the head. I used hot glue to put it [the helmet and foam mat] together. [For] the nose I used the same thing – gray foam mat and used hot glue to put it together.

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    Read more and see more pictures at Instructables.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 17:58
    Alternatives to ULINE shipping supplies – shipping boxes, packing materials and mailing supplies #makerbusiness #manufacturing @uline


    Uline Alternatives

    If you’re searching for shipping boxes, packing materials and mailing supplies online, you’ll see ULINE EVERYWHERE, ULINE spends an estimated $80k+ a day on advertising – An estimated $35.1 million on Google in “Business & Industrial” alone. It must be working, they’re estimated to be a $2b to $5b (that’s billion with a b) company with over 3,150 employees. They also supply Hall & Oates merchandise.

    We started out using ULINE in the early days of Adafruit when we didn’t know anywhere else and we’ve completely outgrown their products/pricing and service. Many other maker businesses, Kickstarters and pros that are shipping hundreds or even tens-of-thousands of orders have asked us where we purchase our supplies instead of ULINE now. Here are our main suppliers for: akro bins, all desks – both shipping stations and work desks, anti-static bags, bin panels, bins, boxes, bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, cardboard shipping boxes, chairs, label dispenser, labels, mailing supplies, mailing tubes, packaging supplies, packing materials, packing peanuts, pallet jacks, pallet wrap, pallets for storage, plastic bags, shelving, shipping boxes, tape dispensers and thermal labels. Post your faves too.


    Cornell-Robbins Paper and Box Company
    http://www.cornellpaper.com/

    Phil Robbins
    probbins@cornellpaper.com


    Staples Industrial
    http://www.staplesindustrial.com/

    Joe Berardi
    Joe.Berardi@staples.com


    BagBarn
    http://www.bagbarn.com/

    1-800-720-1215


    Newark / element14
    http://www.newark.com/
    orders@newark.com

    1-800-463-9275


    Global Industrial
    http://www.globalindustrial.com/

    1-888-978-7759


    Do you have a favorite supplier? Remember, post up in the comments here or on Google+ !

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 17:18
    Ask your Wearables Questions! LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern 4/16 2pm ET


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    What questions do you have about wearable electronics? Ask them now in the comments, and you could win our live giveaway!

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    All inquisitive askers whose questions are featured on this week’s LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern will be eligible for a special giveaway. Post your Qs in the comments here, on Google+, Twitter, or YouTube, and then tune in at 2pm ET on Wednesday for the answers and to see if you’ve won!

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 17:00
    How a Drexel professor created the world’s biggest game of tetris



    By now, everyone’s seen the viral video of the world’s largest game of tetris that was played on the side of a Philadelphia skyscraper. Fast Company has a post on how one Drexel gaming professor pulled it off.

    It all started with a hallucination. As anybody who has spent some fraction of his or her life glued to Tetris knows, the game’s pieces have a way of showing up in the real world. This so-called Tetris Effect is a real thing, as Dr. Frank Lee experienced one day as he drove by the Philadelphia skyline and imagined Tetris shapes falling down the side of a skyscraper. It made him wonder: Could you hack a building and turn it into a giant video game?

    Apparently you can. Lee, who co-founded the game design program at Drexel University, unveiled a skyscraper-sized version of Tetris this weekend as part of Philly Tech Week. For two nights, players took over opposite sides of the 29-story Cira Centre, a massive building whose LED-covered facade was commandeered by Lee and his team to create the game.

    With an estimated 2,000 attendees, Saturday’s event was a hit, which you’d expect from something involving Tetris, food trucks, and beer. Indeed, the very concept of Tetris being played on a skyscraper was enough to attract national press coverage, including a roundup of animated GIFs. It also happened to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the game’s launch; Tetris Company co-founder Henk Rogers was there to mark the occasion…

    HOW IT WORKS

    The Cira Centre’s exterior is affixed with Philips Color Kinetics LED lights (the same kind adorning the Bay Bridge), which means that they’re Internet-connected. For Lee’s team, the first step was gaining access to the network that controls the lights.

    Lee’s team solicited the owner of the building for several teams to get direct VPN access to the network. Once the owner supplied the code, Lee’s team mapped the physical location of each light and parsed them together into a grid so they could map the lights to pixels from the homegrown version of Pong they created. Luckily for them, somebody on GitHub had already written software to take control of lighting systems, which made their work considerably easier.

    “At that point, I knew it was theoretically possible,” Lee says. “If you can control the pixels, you can create a game.”

    Like Pong before it, the larger-than-life Tetris game is controlled by joysticks connected to laptops that send keystrokes over a 4G wireless hotspot to a server inside the Cira Centre network. These signals tell the system which LED lights to illuminate and when. The result is a crudely simple, yet fluid, animation of pixels that’s akin to an early Atari game, complete with sound effects.

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 16:00
    Scientists improve human-robot connection with non-verbal cues #robotics



    Phys.org has this interesting story on a study that shows how to improve the human-robot connection.

    Researchers at the University of British Columbia enlisted the help of a human-friendly robot named Charlie to study the simple task of handing an object to a person. Past research has shown that people have difficulty figuring out when to reach out and take an object from a robot because robots fail to provide appropriate nonverbal cues.

    “We hand things to other people multiple times a day and we do it seamlessly,” says AJung Moon, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Getting this to work between a robot and a person is really important if we want robots to be helpful in fetching us things in our homes or at work.”

    Moon and her colleagues studied what people do with their heads, necks and eyes when they hand water bottles to one another. They then tested three variations of this interaction with Charlie and the 102 study participants.

    Programming the robot to use eye gaze as a nonverbal cue made the handover more fluid. Researchers found that people reached out to take the water bottle sooner in scenarios where the robot moved its head to look at the area where it would hand over the water bottle or looked to the handover location and then up at the person to make eye contact.

    Read more.

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