Category Archives: Design

Sky flash: Kitty Hawk’s electric VTOL aircraft

“When—not if—I die in a fiery crash on Highway 101,” I’ve long told people, “you’ll remember that I called it that I’d be rubbernecking at some awesome aircraft buzzing overhead.” I’ve always figured it’d be a Blue Angel or An-124 or something, but now I can imagine it being Uncle Larry (who helps fund electric-plane startup Kitty Hawk), softly zipping by in one of these chariots of future:

Sign me up for the last bit in particular:

Project Heaviside is Kitty Hawk’s latest high-performance electric VTOL vehicle. It is designed to be fast, small and exceedingly quiet, taking advantage of new possibilities to free people from traffic.

The Heaviside vehicle is roughly 100 times quieter than a regular helicopter. Once in the air, the vehicle blends into the background noise of a city or suburb, barely discernible to the human ear. Heaviside can travel from San Jose to San Francisco in 15 minutes and uses less than half the energy of a car.

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[YouTube]

The robots will style you now

Facebook Research recently unveiled Fashion++, “An AI system that proposes easy changes to a person’s outfit to make it more fashionable.”

Not to be outdone, my extended team is rolling out a Google Lens feature called “style ideas”:

If you see a leopard print skirt you like on social media, take a screenshot and use Lens in Google Photos to see how other people have styled similar looks. See a winter coat that catches your eye in a store, but need some inspiration on how to rock it? Just open Lens and point your camera.

This remains, as always, “the strangest life I’ve ever known…” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

640 motorized LED spheres dance with a human

Pretty much like it says on the tin. Enjoy!

The 9-minute performance features 640 motorized LED spheres, an ancient Chinese weaving machine and a modern dancer. German motor winch producer KINETIC LIGHTS provided the vertical hoist systems for the LED spheres and control software. Russian RADUGADESIGN animated a complementing video backdrop and CPG Concepts from Hong Kong provided the dance choreography for British dancer Rose Alice.

[Vimeo] [Via]

Flaming Lips + Google AI + … fruit?

What happens when you use machine learning & the capacitive-sensing properties of fruit to make music? The Flaming Lips teamed up with Google to find out:

During their performance that night, Steven Drozd from The Flaming Lips, who usually plays a variety of instruments, played a “magical bowl of fruit” for the first time. He tapped each fruit in the bowl, which then played different musical tones, “singing” the fruit’s own name. With help from Magenta, the band broke into a brand-new song, “Strawberry Orange.”

The Flaming Lips also got help from the audience: At one point, they tossed giant, blow-up “fruits” into the crowd, and each fruit was also set up as a sensor, so any audience member who got their hands on one played music, too. The end result was a cacophonous, joyous moment when a crowd truly contributed to the band’s sound.

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 [YouTube]