August 31, 2005

ROAMnet terminal up!

I got the ROAMnet terminal up after the Internet at Burning Man guys got a node somewhere on 9:00. We're on 8:00, so we're getting a strong, but sometimes spotty signal. We do have some great equipment though: a panel antenna and a 200mw card. Tonight is the first night I've been able to get out and see the city. Pretty great artwork out there, curious what else I'll see or get up to this evening.


Posted by nym at 11:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

Leaving for Burning Man

Next week won't be dedicated to cyborg news. Instead I'll be blogging the Burn as much as I can. Hopefully I'll be able to post a bunch of photos of cool engineering along with my own personal narative. Wayne Coreia has invited me over to his tricked out RV so I'll try to get some pics of his mobile hardware setup. I know he has a satellite connection, and a washing machine and dryer on it, who knows what else...

Also working with PlayaInfo, and will share what I can with what they're doing, and what it's like to set up hardware in some of the most extreme of circumstances. Personally I try not to take PCs or other equipment that I can't afford to loose, because you just never know what the dust, wind, and heat will do to them.

Who knows, maybe I'll even run into a real cyborg this year. Here's hoping.

If you have any story ideas or cool links, please contact me using igargoyle @ gmail dot com. Thanks!

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How to build a septambic keyer

For the MAKE kids out there:


Build your own septambic keyer (by Steve Mann)! Alternatively, there's always the Twiddler.

[ Link via del ]

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Scream Bag - Foolish Wearable Computing


ScreamBody is the first of the series of Wearable Body Organs. ScreamBody is a portable space for screaming. When a user needs to scream but is in anynumber of situations where it is just not permitted, ScreamBody silences the user’s screams so they may feel free to vocalize without fear of environmental retaliation, and at the same time records the scream for later release where, when, and how the user chooses.

Feel free to vocalize without fear of environmental retaliation? Instead you'll just have people wondering why you're sticking your face into a device that looks like a giant set of blue balls. I can't imagine what else that guy on the right is thinking.

I had no idea what category to put this one under, so I created a new one, "Stupid".

[ Link via del ]

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August 24, 2005

Frankenstein's Cyber Ninja Destroyer

Not sure exactly what this is, but I found it on

frankensteins cyber ninja destroyer.jpg

Pretty good, would like to know more about it.

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August 23, 2005

Cyberpunk Comic for PSP


NYC2123 looks like a very promising cyberpunk comic, which is available on the PSP and online. Very transmetropolitan.

[ Link via boingboing ]

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August 22, 2005

Cyborg Fashion Show



Yes, it's that time of year again: the primary impact that Burning Man and methamphetamines have had on the computer industry is the SIGGRAPH Fashion Show. This year we learn that, In The Future, your clothing will look like an office building's HVAC system pooped on your head.

Oh wait, that was last year too. Nevermind.

"The event's latex-clad emcee and founder, Isa Gordon, referred to herself as the 'cyborg host' and read her lines from a head-mounted teleprompt running a Microsoft operating system. The device, which rested over one eye like a pirate patch, crashed several times during the show, then died mid-show when batteries ran out, requiring a return to paper scripts."

I wish I could have gone and seen the show, here's a quote about a device that I considered building a while ago. Darn, there goes my venure capital! Heh...

Virtual reality goggles from Electroboutique turn your environment into a fashion show by painting everything you see with Photoshop-like filters. Instead of viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, why not gaze at it "Matrixified" with cascading lime-green gobbledygook text?

And here'a a picture of an LED jacket I quite like:


Maybe I can do a real report on the Cyborg Fashion Show next year. Given my dad's connections to SIGGRAPH, I'm sure I could get free tix. I once was a SIGKid even.

[ Link to Wired Article via jwz ]

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August 19, 2005

Mr Bubbles' Birthday


I love robots.

[ Link via jwz ]

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Contact Lenses as Sunglasses

Nike, Bausch & Lomb have teamed together to make contact lenses that act as sunglasses, and assist sports players in various ways. It doesn't seem like vaporware either, it's reported to be bound for stores this month. The contact lenses are tinted in such a way that allows greater clarity for certain sports activites.

"Nike Maxsight contact lenses come in a grey-green tint and an amber tint, [see picture], to enhance different parts of the light spectrum for different activities.

The grey-green lenses are designed to enhance the green and red portions of the visual spectrum of natural sunlight to improve detail and contour recognition. This is ideal for sports played in bright sunlight such as golf, football, running and rugby.

The amber assists athletes playing fast-moving ball sports played in variable light such as soccer, tennis, baseball and softball. The tint selectively filters wavelengths in the blue-green portion of the visible spectrum, making the ball pop out of the background."

Sounds very interesting, although having worn contacts in the past, I kind of think they're a pain, but this may become a very hip thing to do, much like other cosmetic contact lenses.

[ Link ]

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Nurse Exoskeleton


Here's yet another Exoskeleton, designed to help nurses pick up patients and do other tasks. I would imagine it would be cheaper to hire some huge bloke to throw the people around, but I'm sure the bedside manner of this lady is a bit better than your local bouncer. Then again, maybe having a nurse in a giant robotic uniform is a bit threatening.

[ Link to New Scientist Article ]

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Exoskeleton Ironmen


Mere men lift wieghts from 160 to 1,050 pounds using mental powers, motors, and hydraulics. Now that's a pair of Technotrousers.

[Wired article via jwz]

Posted by nym at 07:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Mapping Burning Man


I've been very busy recently with my yearly pet project surrounding the Burning Man festival in the Nevada Black Rock Desert. This year, I'm seeing more and more people come together with their interest in cartography than ever before. The sponsored mapping group, PlayaInfo is also expanding their geographic reach by supporting a GPSDrive friendsd server so that participants with art cars can broadcast their location to the main map. Seems like a perfect fit for cyborgs and technomads alike!

"We plan to support GPSdrive this year. That includes running a friendsd server (which is perhaps what you meant?). For anybody not already familiar, GPSDrive is a program that displays your GPS location on a calibrated raster map - and it can share your location with others (and receive theirs) via WiFi. The friendsd server is the program that collects position reports via WiFi and broadcasts them again on the same medium." -Zhahai (PlayaInfo Techie)

Here's a screenshot from the detailed maps made by the PlayaInfo team:


And here's a GPS based map from someone named Zorro:


My work directly involves the use of GPS units. I'm helping the art placement team, the ARTery, keep track of all the artwork on the open playa. The following is a Flash based map that has all of last year's artwork loaded, and will be used on site this year to visualise all the data collected by the ARTery, and citizen cartographers alike:


Like last year, I'll be providing this map, along with PlayaInfo's Digital Directory map on our camp's public access PC. Here's a picture of it from last year:


Finally, I just got done contributing to my 2nd O'Reilly book, Google Map Hacks, and of course, I used pictures from last year's burn as an example for my Google Maps Slideshow Hack.


So there it is, a quick roundup of cartography at Burning Man, Black Rock City. I plan to blog from the event on igargoyle, detailing some of the cooler art and technology I see on the desert dry lake bed. In the mean time, I'm going to be really busy, so please submit links and descriptions to keep the site going!

If you are going to Burning Man, and would like to hear more about cartography and cool things to do with your GPS, we're holding an event on Thursday at 4:00 in camp ROAMnet in the Brane village (Cathersis & 8:00). Also there is the online tribe, PlayaMaps, and BRC_GPS the mailing list.


Burn baby, burn.

Posted by nym at 06:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Cyborg Dolphins


I can't remember where I found this, but I really liked the idea of a dolphin saying more than "Thanks for all the fish". I wonder what videogame it's from.

Funny thing is, cyborg dolphins aren't completely fictional. A dolphin named Fuji in Japan lost her tail to some disease and her thumbed counterparts from Bridgestone Corp built her a new one.

Posted by nym at 06:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 17, 2005

Monochromatism Cyboria

Monochromatism is a term for complete color blindness. It's like being a dog, or living in the fourties. Luckily we live in color times, and technology is allowing a man with this condition to overcome his disorder.
"Neil Harbisson is, quite literally, a man who has always viewed life in black and white. The 22-year-old Spaniard, who moved to Totnes in south Devon in 2003, was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition that affects only one person in 33,000 and causes monochromatism, or complete colour blindness.

But last year, he was able to see – or, more accurately, hear – colours for the first time. Neil has been fitted with a machine that turns colours into soundwaves, with a different sound representing each hue. The Eye-Borg, as it is known, features a head-mounted digital camera that reads the colours in front of Neil and converts them into sound. A scale of musical tones represents the spectrum of colours – light hues are high-pitched, while darker colours sound bolder. It is, in a way, forced synaesthesia; its creator, 24-year-old digital multimedia expert Adam Montandon, describes the invention as "like hearing a colour wheel"."

I think 'Eye-Borg' is a bit of a silly name, especially as it doesn't communicate what it's really for. In any case I'm all for people enabling themselves, to overcome shortcomings, or go beyond their biological limitations. I look forward to finding out more about this project.

[ Link to HMC MediaLab ]

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Creepy Fembot

This Fembot is really creepy, probably because it appears, at least on a surface level, to be a real person. If I saw this android on a bus, I probably would scowl, but otherwise be non the wiser.
"She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe."

Why is it that robots that are designed to look like humans are so disturbing?

[ Link via Joshua ]

Posted by nym at 07:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

Snow Crash Adapting Tires

Michelin has made these nifty tires which they call TWEELs, which probably make your ride quite a bit smoother, especially if you like going up curbs and over small animals.

Here's a quote from Snow Crash about the "Smartwheels", which are quite similar to the TWEELs, but with lazers and hyrdrolics, and some kind of embeded computer system:

"Each one consists of a hub with many stout spokes. Each spoke telescopes in five sections. On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom, swiveling on a ball joint. As the wheels roll, the feet plant themselves one at a time, almost glomming into one continuous tire. If you surf over a bump, the spokes retract to pass over it. If you surf over a chuckhole, the robo-prongs plumb its asphalty depths."

These new tires are also being used on the new iBot mobility device and Segway's Concept Centaur.


[ Link to gizmodo article. Thanks Ordaos! ]

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August 15, 2005


Hyperfabric is this cool art project that involves a very reactive fabric.
"You can press, grab, twist, punch and play with the screen. It can even support your full bodyweight. The Hyperfabric screen is specially designed to communicate with a computer to generate interactive computer graphics, in realtime."

Adam Montandon writes:

"Been reading your igargoyle site for a while. I just finished this digital art project, and I thought you might be interested.

It's a digital art project called "Hyperfabric" that creates a very
touchable touchscreen, made out of an elastic-like fabric, so the screen warps like rubber, and can sense how hard your press it, where you press it, and you can even have lots of people using it at once, you really feel like you are going "through" the screen."

Since this is an installation, it probably helps a lot if you are able to get up close to interact with it. I wish I could experience it, since it's hard to imagine, even with these mysterious photos.

[ Link via Adam from the HMC MediaLab ]

Posted by nym at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cyborg Kitty

Awwww, what a cute cyborg kitty. Personally if I were a cat I'd prefer laser claws or bionic jumping legs to surprise my enemies.
"Elvis the Robo-Cat is a housecat who lost the use of his rear legs in a traffic accident. His owner, an amateur roboticist, has built him a motorized platform that Elvis controls by means of his front paws in order to move around the house."

[ Link via boing boing ]

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