This Robot Draws Pictures to the Beat of Your Heart_

Aramique, the interactive director at Tool, is now back with a new team, but this time he’s debuting an installation called Heart Bot, which uses robotics and human heartbeats to make works of art.

After SMS Audio (created by Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson) and Intel collaborated to launch a new headphone built around a heart rate monitor, Aramique was brought in to create an idea for an installation that would appear at The New Museum in New York City. With partners Crouse, Matt Mets, Ranjit Bhatnagor, Adam Thabo, and Nikolay Saveliev, Aramique proposed a drawing machine that would be controlled by the heart rate of each viewer.

The idea was to create a collaborative piece of art that unfolded throughout the night by inviting all guests to spend thirty seconds with their finger touching a heart rate sensor, while the robotic machine would draw on the wall in real time. By the end of the night, as Aramique told me, they would collectively—humans and machine—create a piece of art together.

“Heart Bot consists of a pulse sensor embedded into a small pedestal, a wall with two stepper motors mounted 12 feet high and 10 feet apart, and a long belt stretched between them,” Aramique explained. “Attached to the belt in the middle is a rectangular frame fitted with two pen-wielding robotic arms that can draw through the window in the middle of the frame.”

The user places a finger on the pulse sensor, then presses a button on the pedestal to begin the robotic process. The pulse information is fed to a small piece of software that sends a mixture of choreographed actions and pulse information to the motors and the robotic arms. By adding or taking up slack in the belt, the motors can move the robotic arms anywhere on the wall.

As the motors drag, Crouse explained, the robotic arms move around the wall in large, slower motions, then twitch up and down and left and right to make smaller, faster motions. It all results in large-scale generative wall drawings that Aramique said drew inspiration from Sol Lewitt’s conceptual minimalism—simple but strikingly geometric and fluid lines—but in a collaborative way.

“The process takes about thirty seconds per person, and after dozens of people have used it, the result is a collective representation of the emotional state of all of the contributors,” said Heart Bot’s technical director Crouse. Ultimately, 60 people participated by controlling the drawing machine with their heart rate, including 50 Cent and Carmelo Anthony.

According to Bhatnagar, an engineer at Tool, the two big inspirations for Heart Bot were Jürg Lehni’s HEKTOR, which wasn’t the first suspended drawing, but a successful one that brought the idea into the public consciousness. The other is Johannes “joo” Heberlein’s PLOTCLOCK, which Bhatnagar described as a “simple, clever, and nimble little drawing robot.” Joo made all PLOTCLOCK’s plans open-source, allowing Heart Bot creators to remix and mash up HEKTOR and PLOTCLOCK for their own drawing machine.

“The challenge with the design was keeping it generative, controlled by the heart rate and creating some kind of order so it wouldn’t become a mess of EKG lines,” Aramique said. “We decided on a radial design inspired by the hands on a clock and started each person’s contribution from the center of the circle working its way out. Each of the 60 people add their hear rate drawing to what corresponds with a second or minute on a clock dial.”

After its one-night only appearance at The New Museum, Heart Bot made a trip across the country to Intel’s San Francisco’s facilities. There are tentative plans for it to be shown again at the Computer Electronics Show, but details for that exhibition are still forthcoming. The final work created by Heart Bot will be donated to Feeding America®, a domestic hunger relief charity.


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Creators of New Fed-Proof Bitcoin Marketplace Swear It’s Not for Drugs_

When the recording industry smashed Napster with a $20 billion lawsuit more than a decade ago, filesharing morphed into Bittorrent, a fully peer-to-peer system with no central server for law enforcement to attack. Now the developers behind one software project are trying to pull off a similar trick with the anarchic model of bitcoin e-commerce pioneered by the billion-dollar Silk Road black market. And just as with Bittorrent, their new system may be so decentralized that not even its creators can control exactly how it will be used.

This weekend, the developers behind OpenBazaar plan to release a beta version of the software designed to let anyone privately and directly buy and sell goods online with no intermediary. They describe it as “pseudonymous, uncensored trade.” Rather than hosting its commerce on any server, OpenBazaar installs on users’ PCs, and allows them to list products in a file stored in a so-called “distributed hash table,” a database spread across many users’ machines. Everything will be paid in bitcoin. The result of that peer-to-peer architecture, they hope, will be a marketplace that no one—–no government, no company, not even the OpenBazaar programmers—can regulate or shut down.

“We’re just really passionate about allowing peer-to-peer trade to happen online. We want that to exist,” says Sam Patterson, the operations lead for the non-profit project. “The internet allowed you to communicate directly. Bitcoin allowed you to send money directly. Now you can trade directly.”

And just what will you trade on OpenBazaar? A good first guess might be drugs. The multi-headed marketplace, after all, is designed to thwart law enforcement seizures or takedowns that arrest any one person or group. And though it doesn’t currently offer much anonymity by default, Patterson says its initial version can be used through a VPN to hide users’ IP addresses, and it will soon integrate the anonymity software Tor or I2P.

In fact, OpenBazaar was first launched in April as a spinoff of another open-source prototype called DarkMarket. That project’s anarchist creator, Amir Taaki, says he was inspired by the FBI’s takedown of the Silk Road and designed DarkMarket to “equip the people with the tools needed for the next generation of digital black markets.”

But Patterson and OpenBazaar founder Brian Hoffman adamantly insist OpenBazaar isn’t designed for selling narcotics, guns, or other contraband. They see their invention as a freer, more democratic eBay or Craigslist, with no seller fees and no one to arbitrarily change the rules or censor products. “We’re not the ‘Super Silk Road.’ We’re trying to replace eBay in a better form,” says Patterson. “We recognize that people may choose to use that technology in a way we see as distasteful, immoral, and illegal, but we’re giving them the option to engage in a kind of human interaction that doesn’t exist right now.”

Patterson says OpenBazaar is “listing agnostic,” and argues the vast majority of buyers and sellers will use it for the same type of things sold on eBay and the now-defunct Bitcoin marketplace Bitmit. But in one post on OpenBazaar’s developer forum, he recommends suggesting that developers talking about OpenBazaar with the public cite example products that are “illicit but socially acceptable.”

“Raw milk? Radar detectors? Fireworks?,” he writes. “Stuff that people wouldn’t disagree with but is technically illegal to sell because of stupid laws.”

But Taaki argues OpenBazaar’s creators are kidding themselves if they believe their marketplace won’t become a haven for more serious contraband. “I think it’s intellectually dishonest to try and convince yourself that black market activity isn’t a big part of it,” he says. “People want to buy the things you can’t buy on eBay like guns, drugs, or pornography.”

Silk Road-inspired markets like Silk Road 2.0, Agora, Evolution and more than a dozen others offer a cornucopia of contraband in exchange for bitcoin. But they all suffer from the same problem of centralization that killed Silk Road when its alleged creator, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested last year. Administrators of black markets like Sheep Marketplace and Atlantis have absconded with users’ bitcoins stored on their servers. The Silk Road 2.0 and more recently the smaller site Cannabis Road have both been hit by hackers who stole six- and seven-figure sums of users’ bitcoins.


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Gif: 42 Butterflies of North America_

An animated chart of 42 North American butterflies.

Big GIF Here_


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Ideas Are Scary And Surprising_

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk,” Thomas Edison said. Many of Edison’s quotes are about the importance of inspiration and work. With these two ingredients, the optimistic tinkerer can shape raw materials into brand new things.

Of course, this is a significant oversimplification of the process of innovation. Turning imagination into something fully realized is not a simple or clear-cut task, with the journey to many great advances looking a lot like stumbling around in the dark blindly.

From medicine and physics to the creation of new appliances, the process at the heart of changing the world may not often be beautiful, but the final result is. Here are six game-changing discoveries in which chance, curiosity and an open mind played a huge part:

Theory of gravity: While hanging out in his backyard, Isaac Newton watched an apple fall from his tree. He noted how strange it was that it would always fall straight down and perpendicular to the ground. Twenty years later, that initial observation led to the publication of his theory of gravity.

Penicillin: Alexander Fleming discovered that a mold called Penicillium notatum had colonized petri dishes that were growing human disease-causing Staphylococcus bacteria. Wherever the mold was present, the staph bacterial colonies would not grow. Fleming took the liquid excreted by the mold and applied it to a range of different types of bacteria, finding that it killed all of them. The age of antibiotics was born. “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did,” Fleming later said.

Microwave oven: The fact that we can munch a bag of popcorn made in minutes with no hassle is all thanks to a chocolate bar and military research. In 1946, engineer Percy Spencer was working on a radar project when he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket was melting. Realizing that an energized type of vacuum tube called a magnetron was responsible for the heating, he started pointing it at other things. A year later when the first commercial microwave oven hit stores, the age of the frozen burrito had arrived.

Theory of natural selection and descent with modification: Famed 19th century British naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace was in the middle of an expedition when he came down with a severe fever. In his febrile state, he realized that organisms better adapted to their environment had a stronger chance of surviving in a tough world. Wallace sent his draft to Darwin, who soon released his own work on evolution into the world.

The fungicide that saved the French wine industry: According to plant pathologist Steve Savage, grapevines in the famed French winemaking region of Bordeaux were suffering mightily from an attack of the downy mildew fungus in 1874. Plant scientist Pierre Millardet was walking through the defoliated vineyards one day and came upon one plot where the vines appeared healthy. It turned out that the grower had been applying a mixture of copper sulfate and hydrated lime to the plants. The farmer had grown sick of people passing by and taking his grapes. His chemical cocktail left white splotches all over the leaves and grapes after it dried, making the fruit less appealing to would-be grazers. It was an effective fungicide that saved Bordeaux wines.

The Durathon Battery: Ajith Kumar, a consulting engineer for GE Transportation who holds more than 200 patents, was working on creating a hybrid locomotive – a sort of Prius on rails. The engineering team needed batteries that could capture waste energy from braking while enduring intense vibration and heat in a compact package. Kumar experimented with metal halides, which become batteries when melted but take up far less space. The hybrid locomotive still hasn’t happened, but the Durathon is serving as backup power for cell towers and to store excess energy at wind farms.


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The other ISIS_

You might think that a company called Isis Pharmaceuticals would be itching to change its name in order to avoid confusion with the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Heck, the company’s ticker symbol is even “ISIS.”

But Isis (ISIS), a biotech based in California, doesn’t appear to be suffering due to its now unfortunate corporate moniker.

In fact, shares rose more than 10% on Tuesday and are up more than 32% in the past month. What gives?

Strangely enough, Isis may be benefiting from another hot trending topic on Twitter (TWTR, Tech30)

Instagram, YouTube and Facebook (FB, Tech30): the ALS ice bucket challenge.

Isis is developing many drugs aimed at treating a variety of neurological disorders, including ALS … more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the Yankees great who was afflicted with and died from it.

Even though Isis has a lot of drugs in its pipeline, including others for various forms of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, it looks like investors have been attracted to Isis lately because of all the focus on ALS.

Many Facebook users’ news feeds are now devoted to videos of their friends, family (and of course, celebrities) dumping buckets of ice on themselves and challenging others to donate to ALS charities and/or also douse themselves with frozen water. So it’s no wonder investors are not that concerned by the fact that Isis shares its name with arguably the most hated organization in the world.

MarketWatch named Isis one of five drug stocks that may benefit from more ALS awareness in a story last week. That may also be helping to fuel the stock’s run.

And Isis has a link on the community section of its own Web site devoted to the ice bucket challenge. The words “Drench Me” appear in bold type under the company’s name and logo.

Wade Walke, vice president of corporate communications for Isis, said Wednesday that his company and others developing ALS drugs are definitely benefiting from more awareness about the disease during the past few weeks.

Now about that name. Walke said that most calls about the name are coming from reporters, not investors. He added that because Isis is not a large drug company with many products already on the market, Isis feels there is no pressure to change its name or ticker symbol. And why should it?

Related: Terrorism in Iraq and Syria has been one of several things to rattle stocks this year

Even though some other businesses named Isis, such as the mobile wallet service developed by telecoms AT&T (T, Tech30), Verizon (VZ, Tech30) and T-Mobile (TMUS), are rebranding, I don’t see why Isis, a company founded 25 years ago, should do the same.

“Our investors know us well,” Walke said.

It is painstakingly clear that Isis Pharmaceuticals chose its name as an homage to the Egyptian goddess. The company’s logo is a pyramid after all.

And given how well the stock has done in the past month, a time when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been dominating the headlines, it really doesn’t seem as if Wall Street cares that the company’s ticker is likely to show up on social media sites next to stories about horrendous acts of violence.

So should you buy the stock? That’s a different story. Isis, like many biotechs, is losing money.

It is a risky bet. But there have been a flurry of deals in biotech lately. Larger drug firms covet firms like Isis, which have the potential to launch new blockbuster medications.

On Monday, Swiss drug giant Roche (RHHBF) agreed to buy InterMune (ITMN), a developer of treatments for lung ailments, for $8.3 billion.

For what it’s worth, Isis has partnerships with deep-pocketed drug companies Biogen (BIIB) and AstraZeneca (AZN). So the stock may also be rallying on takeover speculation too.

And if it ever did get bought, that’s an easy way to kiss the Isis name goodbye.


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Twenty-Two Percent of the World’s Power Now Comes from Renewable Sources_

Last year saw the biggest worldwide boom in renewable energy yet. Across the globe, wind turbines and solar panels were rolled out and set up at a more rapid clip than ever before.

“In 2013, renewable power capacity expanded at its fastest pace to date,” the Paris-based International Energy Agency wrote in its latest market report.

Wind, solar, and other clean energy sources “continued to grow strongly, reaching almost 22 percent of the global mix,” according to the IEA, “compared with 21 percent in 2012 and 18 percent in 2007.”

All told, $250 billion was invested in clean energy, and the amount of power the sector generated thereafter came to equal natural gas—the other supposedly ascendent energy source. Despite its image as a booming fossil fuel, the IEA notes that natural gas “remained relatively stable in 2013.”

Meanwhile, 14 percent of the US is now running on renewable energy, according to a separate report from the Energy Information Administration. That’s thanks to a doubling of solar power in a single year.

The news isn’t all rosy, however. The IEA also downgraded its forecast for renewables through 2020, because many governments are dropping their support for incentives—right at the time when wind and solar are becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

This is of course the case in the US, where federal incentives to invest in clean energy have fallen off, and many state-level rebates are at risk of expiration too. Much of the boom in 2013 was fueled by the very tax credits that have since dried up.

If we’re going to transition to a clean energy system capable of displacing fossil fuels, ideally in time to prevent dangerous levels of climate change, we’re going to need to deploy carbon-free energy sources even faster than we did last year.


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A Map of Every Device in the World That’s Connected to the Internet_

Where is the internet? This map might explain it better than any statistics could ever hope to: The red hot spots show where the most devices that can access the internet are located.

This map was made on August 2nd by John Matherly, the founder of Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices. Matherly, who calls himself an internet cartographer, collected the data to put it together by sending ping requests to every IP address on the internet, and storing the positive responses. A ping is a network utility that sends an echo-request message (known as a packet) to an IP address—the internet’s version of “hey, are you there?”

That part was relatively easy compared to the visualisation process, says Matherly. “It took less than five hours to gather the data, and another 12 hours or so to generate the map image.” For that, he used the matplotlib plotting library in the map-making program Python.

With its rainbow of connectedness, the map is similar to one produced last year by folks at Caida—however, that one was illegal. Although Shodan is well-known for its potentially shady practices that prey upon insecure networks, ping requests—the same thing your internet provider uses to test speed and data loss—are completely benign, Matherly says. “We’ve just advanced enough in technology where we can do it on internet-scale.”

Basically, Shodan is now able to send and receive the requests fast enough that the world can be queried in just a few hours. Armed with the new process, Matherly plans to track the changes in the globe’s internet connectivity over time. With the proliferation of the Internet of Things, we’re bound to see some of those black holes slowly colorize over the next few years.


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Computer Copy_

Fashion remix project from gokinjo-monozukuri captures existing fashion with 3D photogrammetry, processed into polygons with modelling software, and put together onto digitally printed fabric.

The process of “Computed Copy” is as follows. First, scan the garment and get the 3D images of it. Second, make flat patterns with printed images by using a software which can do this automatically, and finally put the parts by sewing them.

Although there is a traditional way of designing flat patterns which considers the movement of the body and characteristics of the material, computers design it in a totally different way, because they recognize the 3D shape as a polygon which is a collective form of flat faces.

Our purpose for this “Computed Copy” is not only to make some distortion which humans cannot produce, but also to make garments which are not just “copy” and have the alternative creativity. By removing humans’ arbitrariness as much as possible from the process of copying designs, and by letting computers do it, we can create a new kind of designing system.

In the future, we think that it will be possible to copy a garment only with the image files on the internet without scanning actual things, thanks to the rapid development of 3D technology (scanning, modeling, and printing) and a flood of images on the internet. We expect that this work will be the fastest automated way of copying the designs as the final destination of fast fashion.


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Maceo Plex, ‘Conjure Superstar’: A Grim Tour of Club Culture via Stolen Phone_

Maceo Plex’s new track ‘Conjure Superstar’ is going from strength to strength, and the official video for the tune has just been released.

Now on seminal German label Kompakt, Plex is riding high in the Beatport charts with his new track.

The video for ‘Conjure Superstar’ is seen through the eye of a camera phone, and depicts the escapades of a night out that is fuelled by sex, drugs and booze which ends in a gruesome fashion.

‘Conjure Superstar’ is out now, and the video is available to watch below:


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Tourists on ‘Human Safaris’ Are Harassing Uncontacted Peruvian Tribes_

Tourists are leaving clothes and other trinkets for uncontacted tribes in the Peruvian Amazon on “human safaris,” according to a local Amazon Indian organization.

The trinkets could be making them sick.

Peru’s Manu National Park and its Madre de Dios Reserve have each been popular tourist destinations for birdwatchers and people wanting to take trips into the Amazon river. But recently, tour groups leaving out of Cuzco and other nearby towns have begun showing tourists members of the uncontacted Mascho-Piro tribe, who have apparently been increasingly showing up along the Madre de Dios river.

“We are regularly sent images of the Mashco-Piro by tourists, and it seems that they are now coming to the riverbank on an almost daily basis,” Alice Bayer, a spokesperson for the human rights group Survival International, told me in an email.

Contacting these people, who have lived in the Amazon for centuries, isn’t a good idea: Studies have shown that, when a group is contacted, many of them often die out very quickly. There are a few reasons for this, but, most importantly, they haven’t been exposed to diseases that people who live in outside society have spent generations building up immunities to.

That’s why, when a Peruvian uncontacted tribe made contact with a group in Brazil earlier this year, it was so concerning. In fact, all of the tribe members who made contact eventually got the flu.

FENAMAD, a Peruvian group that represents contacted indigenous tribes in the Amazon, wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week that there’s already evidence that the Mascho-Piro may be getting sick from the items that tourists are leaving for them.

“The photos taken [by tourists] show that these people are sick,” the group wrote. “One of them has an open wound on her leg and left arm with the ribs protruding, while the kids seem to be malnourished and have parasites.”

An internet search in both Spanish and English didn’t turn up any tour groups who were specifically advertising tours to see the Mascho-Piro, but I found one tourist who says he took a photo of the tribe while on a tour. Having traveled extensively through Peru, I know that most tours are organized on the ground through small shops and outfits with no web presence; illicit tours like this often spread through word-of-mouth and aren’t specifically advertised anywhere except perhaps on a small sign outside of a tour operator shop.

In 2011, the last time the tribe was seen, they appeared to be healthy, the group FENAMAD said. The group said that it’s time for the Peruvian government to set up guard posts to monitor the situation, and that tours to the area have to stop.

FENAMAD believes that the Mascho-Piro are showing up more often because the people are leaving these gifts, but they don’t know that the gifts could be getting them sick.

Peru’s government “should investigate the business of tourism and other groups that are taking advantage of our brothers, the Mascho-Piro, who are exposing them to the spread of disease and are treating them like an attraction,” the group wrote.


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