Touch & go

Robot Help and Play

What would you choose – a robot to help you around the house, or one that you could play with? Researchers at Georgia’s Human Factors and Aging Lab are looking at the possibilities where robots could help the elderly remain more independent in their homes, helping with chores and health tasks. And Disney has also developed a robot that can play a game of catch with you. Using a Kinect to sense and track the ball, the robot can both catch the ball when you throw, and toss it back, playing a continuous game.

Good Global Move

Recognizing how troublesome it can be to move internationally, a new company is streamlining the process for both individuals and companies. MOVE Guides provides a centralized hub to help with everything from finding a new home and moving your stuff, to dealing with taxes and visas. They organize all the information you need, and keep tabs on where you are in the process, helping make the whole ordeal much easier.

(Image of Food Flags)

App of Fashion

Fashion brands are venturing further into the world of the iPad to show off their collections. Prada’s Il Palazzo is a new app that takes viewers into a virtual palace, where they can explore the austere and elegant surroundings, viewing drawn illustrations of the F/W 2012 Menswear line. Illustrator and former fashion designer Richard Haines collaborated with Prada to create the “artwork” on the walls of the palace. Haines is known for his lovely sketches on his street-seen style blog What I Saw Today.

Virtual Museum

It can be tough for large, institutional museums to keep up with new artists working in new mediums. Seeing that digital works were under-represented in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, Amber van den Eeden and Kalle Mattson took things into their own hands, creating a temporary virtual gallery for these artists. The site shows the work of Amsterdam’s digital innovators – those creating animated gifs and websites, using technology in new and interesting ways.

Sound Play

Japanese “sound artist” Yuri Suzuki plays with music, looking for ways to enhance our physical connection and relationship to it. He recently unveiled “The Sound of the Earth,” a globe-shaped record, embedded with contoured grooves for playing sounds and music recorded around the world. In another project, his Denki Puzzle, he created graphic shapes as puzzle pieces, to form the components and resistors that make up a radio. The project is intended to teach kids about how mechanical instruments come together, by physically building their own radio “puzzle”.

Universal Music

Looking for a new way to rediscover your music collection? The Planetary app offer unique way to explore your iPad music library by turning it into a virtual galaxy of suns, planets, moons and stars. Artists with the same beginning letter are grouped together in a galaxy, planets are album names, and the number of moons per planet equals the number of tracks per album. This app, along with others including Björk’s Biophilia, are envisioning new ways to our interpret music into three dimensions.

Compose a Tweet

Many people rattle off tweets without a second thought, making twitter a cacophony of ideas, opinions and links. A recent campaign turned the usual ramblings into beautiful compositions of music, all for a good cause. To help fund Amsterdam’s Metropole Orchestra, the lovely Tweetphony was created, allowing anyone to compose snippets of music via twitter. Users simply used the embedded virtual piano to write their masterpieces and submitted them, thereby entering to win having their tweet composition played by the orchestra.

Sounds of Tin

In 1877, Thomas Edison was the first person to devise a way to reproduce sound. He invented the tinfoil phonograph, which formed the basis for all recorded sound and music to come. Audio was recorded on pieces of tin, then played on the phonograph – and scientists in Berkeley were recently able to play one of Edison’s recordings from 1878 for the first time, via computer analysis. Prior to the ‘performance’ at the GE Theatre in Schenectady, NY, there was no device on which to play the tin music pieces. The team were able to recover the sounds of someone reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a cornet playing, and a man laughing.

(Image of Andrew Bird’s Sonic Arboretum)

Clutch and Carry

For those fashionable people who can’t leave home without their tunes, designer Rebecca Minkoff  debuted the Audio Clutch during the recent NYFW.  Closed, the accessory looks like a lovely little clutch bag. But open, it reveals a bluetooth-enabled hi-fi audio system.

Street Smarts

Dutch design team Studio Roosegaarde is taking green tech to the streets with a concept for smart streets in the Netherlands that will be realized in mid-2013. The concept updates highways with innovative, but accessible, designs like glow-in-the-dark roads, interactive lights, electric car priority lanes, and adaptive road signs. Their solutions address a wide range of driving issues – from safety to sustainability.

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