Think Artificial: finalist in the SXSW Web Awards ’09!

SXSW web awards finalist emblemThink Artificial has made it as finalist in the student category of the SXSW Web Awards ’09!

The notification came yesterday and what a delightful wake-up call. I knew there’d been about a thousand submissions last year, and that they’d had to make a delay this one due to an increase, so it was quite unexpected. (Each category is drastically different—but it still makes my head spin to be on a list with Ars Technica! Awesome.)

My thanks go out to the judges, bows to the fellow finalists and best wishes all around!

New Facebook page for Think Artificial

Just a quick note about the newly created Facebook page for Think Artificial. Followers can upload images & videos, share links and have some discussions. Facebook’s ‘discussion board’ sucks about as much as the economy, but posting comments on individual pics, links and vids could be fun. If you’re interested then please be my guest to join and post some cool artificial stuff.

I am not dead; stay tuned for 2009.

Dear readers of Think Artificial—my apologies for not having posted sooner. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, there are some things weighing on my shoulders. This is, among school and other things, a burning desire to help rebuild on Iceland’s ashes of economic collapse.

Only yesterday the police employed gas to disperse a crowd for the first time since 1949 when Iceland joined NATO. The people are protesting the government’s poor management in the months since the collapse.

I’ve been brooding on ideas of how to introduce innovation as a key component in the new society. This is not an easy thing to do—Iceland is drenched in history-based economic models to make decisions. When that model goes too far, as it has royally, it does not favor innovation, startup companies and extensive research; businesses tend to put their money where its safe, not into the abyss of new ideas that may- or may not revolutionize the world.

This compels me to do something; try to help steer this country into something less extreme, more innovative. I’ve been doing presentations about how special, unique and rebellious ideas can bring about great things if done right. There’s much more planned for 2009, and also: I’m learning about politics—can you believe that?

There’s a lot on my mind—but Think Artificial is not dead. Or if it is, then it’s only because there’s the new Think Artificial of 2009 waiting to take its place. I hope to see you and your comments around. I humbly thank you for reading in 2008 and for sticking around!

Best regards,

Humanoid robot Motoman assembles a camera

Motoman-sda10 looking sharpThis robot, named Motoman-SDA10, is a versatile humanoid industrial robot currently on display at the International Next-Generation Robot Fair. He’s intended to serve both at the factory or at a workplace alongside humans. It’s an industrial robot so I couldn’t find any indication of vision, hearing or other sensors to make it more aware of its environment, so we can expect it to work in safe distance from humans until one of us provides that Change He Needs.

Read on for videos and specs.

Wikitude AR – Augmented reality on Google Android

It’s been a while since the last post and I’m afraid it’s going to be like that for some time, mainly due to business, school and of course our dreaded economic uncertainties. It’s rare that I simply sit down and post, I usually mull over things for a few days and read up on the subject. But between the upcoming US elections and Iceland’s economic canary-in-the-mine situation, there hasn’t been much left to fuel my writing. So for now we’ll have to settle for slim posts.

Now, the Wikitude AR Travel Guide, created by Mobilizy, is an augmented reality application for the G1/Google Android. Judging from the video demonstration, the graphical overlay is quite a few notches smoother than Enkin.

According to Mobilizy’s website Wikitude should already available—but I didn’t find it in the Android Market, and the few 3rd party reviewers I looked at didn’t showcase the AR function. Perhaps there are two versions? In any case, reality is inching closer to augmentation.

Cockroach inspired robot from CWRU’s biorobotics lab (fantastic)

This fantastic robot is the third in a series of robots designed at Case Western Reserve University’s biorobotics lab. Make sure you have a look at their site which contains more information and pictures.

[Subscribers, visit the site if you can't see the video]

When opportunity knocks with a bionic arm

Some time ago I came across an article reporting on a new robotic arm that was so powerful it might have to be downgraded to serve as a “safe” prosthetic.
an i-Limb prosthesis
As prostheses become more affordable and powerful—how soon can we expect people that want to replace their biological arm with one that doesn’t tire, can lift twice as much and for twice as long?

Or, perhaps a more credible scenario; of those that get one out of need, how many will be content with human dexterity when super is an option?

The real life Doctor Manhattan

Watchmen novel coverI thought many of you might enjoy this little gem I came across while digesting my daily dose of science. It turns out that Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen seems to have a real life counterpart.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Watchmen is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Gibbons. It’s the only graphic novel to receive sci-fi’s most prestigious award, Hugo Award, and the only graphic novel to make the NY Time’s 100 best English-language novels. Those of you who’ve read it, read on for the real life Dr. Manhattan. For those of you who haven’t read it fetch yourselves a copy, enjoy some great sci-fi, and then come back to this post. If you don’t the writing style of this entry won’t make sense to you.

Ubiquity for Firefox

If you’re a Firefox user and live on the web like I do, neck deep in trying out new features and beta services, then you should give Mozilla Lab’s Ubiquity a try. It’s an experimental plugin for FF that reminds me a lot of the desktop application Quicksilver.

By a key combination you bring up a command-line interface that let’s you write natural language instructions. For example, selecting text on page, bringing up the window and then typing “email this to“. A similar example is translation; i.e. translate this to French. I’ve recently been migrating many of my desktop activities to web applications, including moving entirely from desktop email to Gmail, and a big plus for me is that Ubiquity works with Gmail right out of the box.

Here’s a recap of the initial features, as stated in the Ubiquity prototype announcement:

Ubiquity 0.1

  • Lets you map and insert maps anywhere; translate on-page; search amazon, google, wikipedia, yahoo, youtube, etc.; digg and twitter; lookup and insert yelp review; get the weather; syntax highlight any code you find; and a lot more. Ubiquity “command list” to see them all.
  • Find and install new commands to extend your browser’s vocabulary through a simple subscription mechanism

And then there’s the introductory video for your enjoyment.

Head over to the Ubiquity page and try it out for yourself. It’s a bit buggy (it’s a prototype, after all)—but it looks like it has great potential.

Sony moves to augment reality with EyePet

Sony EyePet
Sony’s planning on making a splash in the augmented reality world. At the Games Conference in Liepzig, Germany they showcased the EyePet, a game set to hit the stores in late 2009, which uses the PlayStation Eye camera to allow users to interact with a small monkey-like-thing onscreen (set to explode from cuteness). The system also enables you to draw items on real paper which then pop out of it and turn into 3D objects for the monkey to interact with. In the promotional video, embedded below, they show a sketch of a car turning into a 3D vehicle controllable with a PS joystick.

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