24th June 2015 Written by Hannah Greethead Technology

3D Printing: Everything’s Gonna Change

3D printing has been around for a little while now, and it is starting to become clear that the future of this technology is set to be revolutionary. It’s tough to imagine any new development having more influence than the Internet, but 3D printing might just be the one… Imagine a world where you can send people objects in an instant, it’s less like email and more like a fax machine, with products transferred instantly and printed on the spot. 3D printing will disrupt traditional manufacturing and consumption chains, it will change our economy and even the way that our societies function. Pretty crazy! So that might be what is in store for the future, but what about right now?

The 3D printing industry is a lively one with a growing international following. Domestic 3D printers are now relatively accessible (although some are said to be more akin to the $30 printer that sits under your desk than to an awesome machine that perfectly builds any object that you can imagine) and there are now a number of companies offering 3D printing services, all you need to provide is a digital file of your design. But where do you look when you want to learn more about this growing industry? I recommend that you start with an industry insider… Angus Deveson is more than just a 3D printing enthusiast, he plays an active role in the 3D printing community in Australia, having worked for 3D printing companies in Sydney and Freemantle. Angus shares his experiences and advice on his YouTube channel, Maker’s Muse. His thoughtful comments are a great place to start if you’re keen to learn more about this exciting manufacturing technology. Check out his tips for making money in the 3D printing industry below.

 

 

Image: Angus Deveson via Maker's Muse

 

31st October 2014 Written by Jack Howes Technology

How Soon is Now?

The future is here. Seriously. Cyborgs; the end of paralysis; a virtual/augmented reality project that no one understands but has raised over 542 million dollars in cold hard cash-money, and, the only thing any of us have truly cared about since we first saw Back to the Future II –hoverboards. This shit exists.

First things first: the hoverboard. It’s being developed by a company called Arx Pax through Kickstarter. Chasing $250,000, they’ve raised over $317,000 with 50-odd days to go. Go check the videos out, like, right now. There are grown-ass men charging around on this thing like there’s no tomorrow. Okay…so that’s a slight exaggeration.

The board only works on super-conductive surfaces like aluminum and cooper as it functions through electro-magnetising the surfaces beneath it, so it’s not quite ready to be taken down George Street just yet. And it does seem quite likely that this is all a marketing stunt, with the startup behind the hoverboard looking to use, and sell, the technology that could theoretically help protect buildings from earthquakes and similar. But still – It shows that this sort of thing can be done. They’re on their 18th prototype now, with who knows how many more to come. All I know is that if I had a cool 10 grand in my back pocket I’d be banging down their door yesterday.

Possibly even cooler, at least potentially, is Magic Leap’s secretive project Dragonstone. This is the one that’s inspired Thomas Tull – the CEO of Legendary Entertainment – to say

‘It's so badass you can't believe it… It's one of the few things I've ever experienced in my life where I came out and said, this changes everything. This is a marker of the future.’

Internet detectives have discovered a patent relating to the project, which describes it as a ‘massive simultaneous remote digital presence world.’ What does that mean? I have no idea. But there’s a registered trademark to Magic Leap for a ‘Dynamic Digital Light-Field Signal.’ Apparently this is a ‘Wearable computer hardware, namely, an optical display system incorporating a dynamic light-field display. What it boils down to is a wearable display of some sort, one that projects both virtual and augmented realities. This isn’t just another way to get your Tweets. This is going to be Google Glass on crack with some top-notch acid on the side.

And speaking of acid, the work of artist Neil Harbisson is downright trippy. He was born with a condition called achromatopsia, a form of colour-blindness that left him only able to see in black and white. Now thanks to an electronic eye embedded in his skull, he can experience colours beyond ordinary human capabilities. This works thanks to the ‘eyeborg’ that effectively allows him to ‘hear’ colours by sensing them, and reading them as sounds. Seem bizarre? It is. He’s listed as a cyborg on his passport and it seems likely that he won’t be alone for long. His work with the Cyborg Foundation has seen a number of other prototypes developed – including the Speedborg, Fingerborg and the 360 Sensory Perception. As this technology improves, the hope is that it’s most immediate application will be in helping amputees and sufferers of other physical impairments.

As amazing as this work is, it stills pales in comparison to the towering triumph of medicine we saw just the other day. In an achievement described as ‘more impressive than man walking on the moon,’ a UK research team in collaboration with Polish surgeons has enabled a man paralysed in 2010 to walk again. Darek Fidyka was paralysed after an attack that saw him stabbed repeatedly in the back, almost entirely severing his spinal cord. Now the surgery - which allows him to walk with the aid of a frame – has left him describing the feeling as being ‘born again.’

The surgery involved taking cells that form part of our sense of smell, olfactory ensheathing cells (OECS) and transplanting them into the spinal cord. OECS are essentially transmitting cells that allow nerve fibres to be continually renewed. The team believes that injecting them into the spinal cord above and below the cut formed bridging pathways that allowed damaged nervous systems and fibrous tissue to reconnect. This is an enormous triumph with almost limitless implications, is the end of paralysis truly in sight?

In an age of cynicism and brutality, it’s worth remembering the greatness that we can, and have, achieved. Hoverboards are about as cool as it gets, but enabling a paralysed man to walk again is one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time.

Image: Hannah Greethead

17th September 2014 Written by April Davis Technology

Nomophobia - Kicking the 21st Century Narcotic

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on your phone in a day?

You only check it every now and again right? Surely checking your phone wouldn't take up too much of your day? Well, wait for it. It does. The average owner of a smart phone spends anywhere between 1-3 hours a day checking their phone, this equates to checking for emails, tweets, texts, facebook or app notifications anywhere from 50- 150 times a day.

Okay, wow. That was definitely unexpected. Now, if you read our article on the weird and wacky phobias out there you'll be familiar with nomophobia or no-mobile-phone- phobia (check it out). But, in all seriousness 50% of us suffer from this serious disorder whereby we must have our phones on us 24/7. It's actually not a joke and has been referred to as the number 1 narcotic of the 21st century.

Dr. David Greenfield, an Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut believes phone addictions work the same as any other dependency because it causes a rise in dopamine levels.

“Every time you get a notification from your phone, there’s a little elevation in dopamine that says you might have something that’s compelling, whether that’s a text message from someone you like, an email, or anything,” Greenfield said. “The thing is you don’t know what it’s going to be or when you’re going to get it, and that’s what compels the brain to keep checking. It’s like the world’s smallest slot machine.”

Does this horrifying new discovery mean that we're doomed to obsessively check our phones 150 times a day for the rest of our lives? Well I sure hope not, but don't worry there are programs, apps and technology being developed to help combat this addiction. In fact, in the time it takes you to read this article, there could be a light bulb switching on in someone’s head with the perfect idea to fight nomophobia.

But for now, these are some of the most interesting solutions we found:

Let's start with the extreme. In Northern California addicted individuals can attend Camp Grounded a summer camp for adults that focus on digital detoxing. Nothing cleans the soul like a good solid dose of the real world.

China takes things to the next level, with boot camps being set up for addicted teens. To combat their addiction they are forced to participate in military style activities. Its estimated there's about 250 of these camps in the country.

Now for the apps. There is an app for pretty much everything now, how ironic is it that there is a digital app designed to help you kick a digital addiction? Well Menthal is designed to track your phone usage and put you on a "digital diet" No more binge texting for you!

Or, alternatively if you are an iPhone user you can download the Pause app. The program encourages you to switch your phone to flight mode so all wifi and 3G networks are disabled. The app then tracks how long you stay in offline mode by making it a game where you can work to beat your high scores.

Finally, the solution you can't help but laugh at, but it just might work.

A user of kick-starter in the U.S is trying to raise funds to develop the NoPhone which is essentially a fake smart phone made of plastic. It takes you back to your childhood days of playing with toy phones. The logic behind it is that it feels like you are holding a real phone that makes going cold turkey a lot easier because psychologically it would feel like you have your phone even if you don't.

So there you have it, nomophobia doesn’t have to take over your life. You can fight it!

Illustration: Hannah Greethead

2nd September 2014 Written by Erin Cook Film & Photography

Life Off The Grid

Ever wanted to drop off the grid and escape the pressures of contemporary society? You’re not alone. Plenty of wayward individuals have escaped the clutches of a 9-5 life and fled to the countryside. Want to know more about the people living this nomadic lifestyle? Well you’re going to have to go to them… because they’re off the grid.

Scrublands1

Between 2010 and 2013, French photographer Anoine Bruy did just that. With his camera in hand, he hitchhiked across Europe without any destination or route in mind. Along the way he went in search of individuals who had traded in city life and retreated into the wilderness. While some had once been seasoned professionals in areas including teaching and engineering, they now spend their days living off the land.

Scrublands2

Bruy’s ‘Scrublands’ series examines the relationship between the people Bruy met and their relationship to privacy, their physical environment and the economic conditions that determine them. Rather than making a political statement, Bruy wanted to capture the magic of an alternative lifestyle. “The people and places depicted in my pictures display various fates which I think should not be seen at a political level, but more importantly, as daily and immediate experiences,” he said. “These are, in some ways, spontaneous responses to the societies these men and women have left behind. This documentary project is an attempt to make a kind of contemporary tale and to give back a little bit of magic to our modern civilization.”

As Bruy discovered, sometimes the best photographs don’t come you. You’ve have to go to them.

Images

25th March 2014 Written by Jasmine S. Health & Science

A Bloody Dream Come True

Ah, periods. It’s the glorious 7 days where the female womb goes, ‘hey, there ain’t no sperm here’, and starts burning everything. However, in most of India, sanitary pads aren’t available to catch these crimson waves, so when Arunachalam Muruganantham, a mechanic, found out that his wife was using rags dirtier than the one he uses at his workshop, he decided it was time for a change.

Muruganantham took it upon himself to create low-cost sanitary pads due to the fact that 70% of Indian women use rags during their menstrual cycle simply because sanitary pads are too expensive. Even saying the words ‘sanitary pads’ is like saying Voldemort in a Hogwarts common room. People in his village thought he was crazy and even his wife left him after seeing his project. With his patented technology, Muruganantham succeeded in creating sterilised and cheap sanitary pads. Instead of profiting directly, his firm sold the machines to rural communities for $1500 per unit, which can produce 1000 pads a day which retail at about $.25 for a pack of eight.

However, there are still cultural taboos surrounding the sanitary pads. So in addition to his innovation, Muruganantham needs to educate many women about the health benefits of clean pads. His project is a giant step towards empowering women and vitalising rural communities. His units are being utilised in 23 states in India and 6 countries. 

You can watch his presentation below.

7th November 2013 Written by warholst Pop Cultured

ANGRY WEDNESDAY: SHITSTRIPS

You’re either a Bitstripper or you’re not. This app has divided the online nation. If you’ve been living under a rock, Bitstrips is a mobile application that allows you to make a comic including a personalised avatar of you and a friend. Templates of various situations are provided under categories such as ‘Misadventures’, ‘Attacks’, ‘Romance’ and ‘Jokes’. Many people on Facebook are sick of seeing these self gratuitous comics made by narcissists, and it’s true! These comics are annoying, but as a confessed Bitstipper, I think this app is a good opportunity to create some comic (ha!) genius.
3rd October 2013 Just Listen

ANGRY WEDNESDAY: SOCIETY KILLED THE CELEBRITY

“Celebrity.” The word used to mean something, now it’s just an empty shell of a title for the next wave of automatons to conveniently put on just for the sake of doing so.

21st August 2013 Written by Nicole de Bono Pop Cultured

WHY INDEPENDENT DEVELOPERS DISLIKE ANGRY BIRDS

By Nicole de Bono Angry Wednesdays - Part 1 It is obvious to some why independent developers have a subtle dislike for Angry Birds. As an aspiring independent developer I will do my best to explain what Rovio Mobile has done so well to succeed as being one of the most pioneering and recognisable game franchises in the casual mobile game industry. First, a little time machine action back to when the game was first born. An initial design sketch was presented during a brainstorming exercise. The company was facing financial difficulty because the other 51 games they had already made did not hit the nail on the head. After favouring the characters the team went ahead in development. After the completion of Angry Birds in Finland, December 2009, Rovio wanted to bring it forward to the touch screen platform device everyone else was developing for. As they say, the rest is history!
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