frank's blog

Really Cool – Conductive Silver Ink from a Ballpoint Pen

Posted in design, ideas by aldorf on December 20, 2011


Dentsu London were inspired by the University of Illinois’ experiments with making silver conductive ink.

more behind the scenes on their blog here.

Invoked Computing For Ubiquitous AR – Complete Change of Perspective

Posted in design, innovation, pioneers by aldorf on December 5, 2011

We currently place a lot of emphasis on the digital gadgets we own.

What if we were looking at the wrong paradigm and it’s not about the form factor or the physical object?

What if instead was all about what we wanted to do and achieve?

Welcome to the world of Invoked Computing from the University of Tokyo.

Think of the consequences…

1. All the stuff we could get rid of.
2. The environmental benefits of doing that
3. The lamented demise of the electronics product designer and product design (via Core 77)

Wow! Microsoft Builds A Functioning ‘Holodesk’

Posted in film, innovation, pioneers by aldorf on October 20, 2011

It’s a start but – wow – that’s amazing and something the world has been waiting for since 1987. It’s not quite a Holodeck, but it’s tantalizingly close.

The reasearch arm of Microsoft, unlike the rest of the company, spends its days spinning crazed dreams into hacked reality.

Today Microsoft Research released a rather fascinating demonstration of one of its projects, what it calls a ‘holodesk,’ which has the potential to change the way we physically interact with digital items. Sounds trippy? That’s because it is. The user, looking down on a pane of glass, sees items (balls, blocks, whatever) on that screen. With their hands underneath the glass, they can move their appendages and digits and prod those images as if they were directly touching them.

It’s a bridge, essentially, between the physical and the digital. Microsoft dubs the idea at the “research project” stage only, so don’t get your hopes up about getting one for yourself. And of course, it uses a Kinect.

Now, if this is only a research project, why does it matter? Microsoft, as a company, is working on all fronts to build on what it calls ‘natural user interfac[ing].” What this means is that the firm is looking past the keyboard and mouse (blasphemy) and is instead working with touch, voice, and so forth. This is especially important in the tablet world that the company is so desperately behind in.

it’s hard not to wish that more of what Microsoft Research was market-ready. (via thenextweb)

Tangible Computing – Making Mobile Phones Stiff, Scratchy & Stubborn

Posted in conference, design, innovation by aldorf on October 18, 2011

Fabian is a Berlin-based design researcher, working with Deutsche Telekom Laboratories. He is currently engaged in his PhD thesis about Tangible User Interfaces in mobile phones.

Blog: Website:

How To Turn Noise Into Useful Energy – Prototype

Posted in conference, design, innovation, pioneers by aldorf on April 28, 2011

(Photo: iStockphoto)

Where some people hear noise, Jeong Ho You hears energy. “Acoustic energy is everywhere,” he says. And with the help of a tiny resonating chamber, he wants to trap some of that energy and convert it into a low-amperage current for use in small electronic devices. You, a mechanical engineer at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, will be presenting the results of a computer simulation of a resonating chamber design at next month’s Acoustical Society of America meeting in Seattle. He then plans to build a device to see how his idea holds up in the lab. Read more…

Interesting Innovation Survey Data Courtesy of HP

Posted in innovation, quality, your take on... by aldorf on April 26, 2011

HP recently released a news advisory highlighting the results of a fascinating innovation survey that the company commissioned. (The global survey included interviews with 312 executives in both commercial enterprises and the public sector during February and March 2011).

Some of the report highlights include:

  1. Ninety-eight (98) percent of the executives surveyed believe that innovation will be critical to the success of their organizations over the next five years.
  2. The most important reason to innovate is to facilitate future organizational growth (79% of respondents). For commercial enterprises, the second most important reason to innovate is to support profitability (74% of respondents); for the public sector, reputation is the second most important reason to innovate (59% of respondents). InnoCentive’s work with public sector organizations (e.g., Air Force Research LabsNASAIn-Q-Tel and the intelligence community) in particular reveals that they are serious about finding solutions to problems that matter most to their missions, advocating public-private partnerships, and promoting transparency, openness, and collaboration across agencies.
  3. Thirty-five (35) percent of organizations do not appear capable of measuring the success of their innovation efforts. This number is somewhat troubling and is probably low. Establishing a measurement framework with feedback loops and regular milestone checks should be a key deliverable for all open innovation programs and projects.
  4. The majority of executives interviewed believe that they are innovation leaders in their respective industries, with 74% of CEOs indicating said leadership. Since the majority of respondents also indicated that CEOs are most responsible for guiding innovation efforts, this data is not surprising. As a colleague of jokingly mine pointed out, “…and all the children are above average.”
  5. Inadequate funding and technology were recognized as significant barriers to innovation. I’ll go ahead and add a few one more: A lack of methodology, process, discipline, and expertise. InnoCentive’s unique methodology, Challenge Driven Innovation, is an innovation framework that accelerates traditional innovation outcomes by leveraging open innovation and crowdsourcing along with defined methodology, process, and tools to help organizations develop and implement actionable solutions to their key problems, opportunities, and challenges. The key point is: Methodology matters.

Overall, some thought-provoking data courtesy of HP. (via

Eccerrobot – Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot

Posted in Animation, art, design, innovation, pioneers, your take on... by aldorf on March 10, 2011

ECCEROBOT (Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot) is a three-year project funded by the 7th  framework programme of the EU (ICT-Challenge 2, “Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics“). It has three goals: to build the first truly anthropomimetic  robot; to find out how to control it; and finally, to investigate its human-like  cognitive features.

ECCErobot’s floppy body “has no intrinsic stiffness,” Holland says. “If we turn the power off, it would collapse in a heap just like you would.” And that’s the idea—figure out how to control that system and you’ve probably learned what the brain has to do to control the human body.


College Kids Research On How Social Media Can Be Used Effectively

Posted in blog, ideas, internet, web, your take on... by aldorf on March 9, 2011
ASU Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Last year, Sprint gave students in a marketing class at Emerson College 10 smartphones with unlimited wireless access. In return, Sprint received free marketing work for their budding 4G network in Boston from students who blogged and tweeted, and more importantly were able to record firsthand how social media could be effectively used at the company.

Unbeknownst to many, companies have increasingly turned to universities for research on social media. This isn’t highly unusual, as traditionally manufacturers have given financial support to universities conducting research relevant to their companies. In the past though, support has been given to “hard” sciences, for example to the research of pharmaceutical drugs. Companies had never partnered with universities to better understand social media.

However, this appears to be changing. Programs at Northwestern, Emerson, Arizona State, and the University of Florida have been partnering with businesses to specifically research how social media can be used effectively. “It’s allowing for a new kind of research that just wasn’t even possible a few years ago,” says associate professor Dmitri Williams, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a world where social media continues to be a buzz word, businesses are looking for every advantage they can get.

As an example of how social media is being examined, the Wall Street Journal reported that at one class at Arizona State University, the students divided into teams to generate buzz around Fox Sports Net, a group of regional sports channels, will be working with 10 schools as part of a program it calls Creative University.

Despite the successful results from the companies thus far, is it a good idea for companies to conduct social media research at the university level?

Although there are advantages, as seen above, there are hidden costs as well. The time needed to establish a partnership with a program and the commitment the company gives to a university and its students; these may not always be financially related, but they are important nonetheless. Even with this commitment, in return the company would receive students who spend a limited amount of time per week on the project and who have multiple sources competing for their attention. As creative as students can be, they are not working 9AM to 5PM on these projects.

The lack of time and attention is particular true in the examples above, where businesses partnered with undergraduate programs. Traditionally, companies that have lent financial support to “hard” sciences have supported graduate programs, namely PhD students, and these students, in addition to having more time to spend, are under strict supervision. A PhD student, it could be argued, is more similar in their commitment to a project to a full-time employee than to an undergraduate student.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and perhaps the costs, hidden or explicit, of conducting social media research at the undergraduate level outweigh the benefits. (via socialbeat)


Have Eyes Ready – First Ever Showing Of HDR Technology January 19

Posted in film, innovation, Media, photography, quality by aldorf on January 18, 2011

The world’s first complete high dynamic range (HDR) camera can capture high-quality video in a wide range of lighting conditions, including inside the human body. HDR also can complement 3D technology by providing depth perception without the need to wear 3D glasses. A human eye can cope with rapid changes and variety in lighting levels but a traditional camera is only capable of capturing a limited range in any scene. The actual range it can cope with depends on the exposure and f-stop setting of the camera. Anything outside that limited range is either under- or over-exposed. The camera is capable of 20 f-stops, full HD (1920 × 1080) resolution at 30 frames per second. Researchers at the University of Warwick developed the technology and will demo it January 19 in the first ever showing of a short film shot using this new HDR technology. Although HDR imagery for static images has been around for 15 years, it has not been possible to capture HDR video until now. This project brings together internationally leading expertise in HDR imaging and a unique HDR video technology from the University of Warwick with an innovative professional film maker, Entanglement Productions and a new high-tech company specialising in HDR technology. For more information and the upcoming event go to:

Gaming to re-engage boys in learning – Ali Carr-Chellman

Posted in ideas, internet, Media by aldorf on January 17, 2011

Ali Carr-Chellman spells out three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain.

And a new study found evidence that video gaming turns wicked ‘sick’ and gamers to be pathological players according to standards similar to those established by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosing gambling addiction.

Interesting to follow these new developments if you think of “play” as one of the top key trends of the decade. And seeing the gaming industry being the fastest growing industry worldwide.

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