Archive for the ‘Prototypes’ Category

Calling all innovators: Don’t miss the #LATISM Hackathon!

Friday, September 13th, 2013

With the excitement of our conference this year, and all the great things that we’ve prepared for all of you, we couldn’t be happier to announce our first ever Hackathon (¡¿un jaka-qué?! you are probably asking). A Hackathon is an event that engages computer programmers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate and create projects that positively impact the Latino community.

It is also a vehicle to introduce products and ideas that benefit from the Latino market. Hackathons are known for allowing people to problem solve together as teams. “El Hackathon” will be hosted on Friday, September 20th, during our 5th Annual National Conference, LATISM’13, at the amazing Waldorf Astoria in New York City. For a 24-hour period, hackers will be scrambling to execute and produce their concepts into demonstrable functional hacks.

Hackathons allow people to isolate problems and create forward thinking solutions in a creative, yet fast-paced manner, due to the limited time available to perform. This helps people focus on core systems and their “MVP” or Minimum Viable Product.

The goal for the event is to get as many people involved in the innovation process. Teams are then asked to “Demo” their hacks, which exercises a vital part of the innovation process on how to explain an idea. The biggest benefit of hackathons, are the increase awareness around emerging technology and products.

This year’s prizes for the winners of “El Hackathon” include a grand prize of $5,000 for the best hack, chosen by our panel of judges. With sponsors in the ranks of Google, AT&T, McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson and Toyota, this is sure to be a pretty fancy hackathon!

All are welcome to participate. For tickets and more information for this event visit: 

News On The P-Comp and Mobile Front

Friday, May 20th, 2011

I’ve notice that we are making some interesting leaps in technology. Geeks and Nerds are innovating at a faster rate than I initially thought. Open source projects are making great leaps specially in the mobile world.

Here are some projects that have great potential. They are just beginning to scratch the surface and is a sign of the greater things to come.

The first trend that’s happening is the use of androids to interface with PCs. Here is a little hacked software that allows the android phone to act as a mouse controller for a computer.

RemoteDroid demo from Joshua Sera on Vimeo.

Sooner than later you will have software on your phone to control just about anything with an internet connection and digital controls.

An other little device that will certainly enable hackers and techies to do some rapid prototyping is the IOIO (pronounced yoyo.)

The IOIO is an open-source micro controller that connects to your android phone. The little micro controller is packed with 16 analog inputs, 9 PWM outputs and an astonishing 48 i/o digital pins. This will allow you to make gadgets control via mobile device:

If you think that these innovations are already too cool for their own good. You have not kept up with ubuntu news. Just a few weeks ago the news spread like wildfire about the Raspberry Pi:

I mean just look at what’s packed into this little computer that is no bigger than a pack of chewing gum or a USB stick!

- 700MHz ARM11
- 256MB of SDRAM
- OpenGL ES 2.0
- 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
- Composite and HDMI video output
- USB 2.0
- SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
- General-purpose I/O
- Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)

With all this, what else do you need to make your very own terminator…

Here is a good resource video with lots of helpful links in the video description:

I guess you would need the generative titanium and the living tissue colonies etc. but that’s besides the point. The tools are there to make just about anything and it fit in the palm of your hand. Plus when you add the additional open source software, you have an arsenal of tools that is unmatched aka hackarsenal…

Sooner than later, you will be able to build your own mini helper:

Or just buy one for your self and then customize it:

I predict that by next year this time, we will have fully functional personal computers the size of your cellphone that you can carry around everywhere like a laptop, but pocket sized.

Postanalog or Post-Analog

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

So I have decided to start classifying a lot of the new art I see as Postanalog (Post-analog). It is the only way I can describe or categorize things like Art Robotica or projects such as Mortal Engine

Postanalog is similar to the term Postdigital but with a dramatic difference. Postanalog is art that embraces digital technology. This is that art that sees humanity and digital technology as symbiotic. It is when you see a natural element and an algorithmic digital element combine and for a new beautiful form.

Postanalog will revolutionize the world as we see it.

Nice Type, Four Letter Words

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Four Letter Words from Rob Seward on Vimeo.

The Price of Innovation and Sharing.

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Youtube Doubler

For a long time the business model of a lot of companies and individuals has been to come up with a great idea, then keep it to your self. This act of proprietary ownership of an idea is deprecated and will only take you so far in this new age of open-source and sharing.

It would not be as intimidating to compete against one group of individuals, but how about a whole town, maybe a city? Well the open-source movement is bigger. It is global.

So what should companies focus their attention on and where should they invest? The answer is, invest in people, invest in tools.

Lets take Youtube for example. They quickly became the worlds fastest growing entertainment(if you want to call it that) and broadcasting social venue and continue growing because they gave people the ability to play with their product for free! Now that they are the front runner, they are not about to let innovation slip in between their fingers. They are giving everyone more of what they want; entertainment and tools to make new things. It is a symbiotic relationship.

Since Youtube has allowed people to play with Youtube’s content. Artists and technologists have made innovation of their own. Examples of this includes which is a webpage where you can play a bunch of Youtube videos simultaneously.

The funny thing about this is that one of my friends had the idea to make this, not in the same manner but very close. I told him at the time that I was sure a hundred other people thought about the same thing and maybe a couple have already built it. And then I saw the proof that I was right. is around 90% similar to my friends idea, there are a couple of things missing but it there, published, functioning, doing its thing.

This phenomenon is good for Youtube. Its free marketing and advertising for them. So what can they do to get bigger and more profitable? Keep people watching, using experimenting. But that is not all, they also need to change, stay ahead of the curve by making new additions to their offerings.

Youtube Direct will have a major impact on society and the Surveillance/Sousveillance trends.

Now Youtube is also working on the 3D technology which will be a huge market one the polarized LED monitors hit the market. You will be able to see 3d content by browsing the web! The technology is here and about to hit the market.

If you don’t have the 3D Monitors yet, you can use old school 3D red/blue glasses or the good old, cross eyed method to view stereoscopic images!

Blue/Red 3D Video.

Stereoscopic Video.

To find these experimental videos on youtube all you need to do is search for the tag
of these tags:

here are other sample videos:

Jackoon Paints at Gizmodo Gallery 2009

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Jackoon and Jackoon v.2

Don’t worry you are not seeing double, Jackoon the painting robot has a new friend! Jackoon v.2 is an other hacked toy with a robotic arm made from Jackoon’s blue print. Jackoon v.2 made its debut at The Gizmodo Gallery exhibit and a fine job he did.

Art bots

The two artbots teamed up to make the paintings of a few subjects including one of the king of all robots R2D2!

R2D2 by Jackoon and Jackoon v2

The robots used this image as a reference and painted the composition with gray, orange, yellow and black.

2/3 of the way into the painting, I made an outline of where R2D2 was located on the painting. You can see the subtle contour of r2′s body on the robotic painting. I was really happy with the resulting painting.

r2d2 by Jackkon pair

Also at the gallery where my favorite, the Tesla Coil!

Gizmodo, Starwars-Imperial March by Arcattack from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Invisible Currents

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Shark magnetic sensory system from wikipedia.

If we did not have sensitive nerves embedded all over our skin, we would not be able to feel the presence of wind. Similarly, if we don’t have electromagnetic sensors like a shark we cannot sense the presence of magnetic forces. This is an example of electromagnetic pulses that come from the subway system in Japan. This is just one example of simple way you can visualize the invisible forces of the world around you. Think wind!

Art Robotica: Thesis Presentation!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Art Robotica is a term used to describe the body of work created by the collaboration of “ArtBot” and artist. ArtBots are Autonomous Machines that paint or draw on a canvas, sheet of paper or a surface of some kind. Art Robotica reflects our new codependency and symbiotic relationship with machines. ArtBots are, in essence, collaborators rather than just new tools.

A presentation of Art Robotica was part of ITP Thesis Week 2009.
The thesis presentation was Tuesday May 5, 2009 at NYU’s ITP (721 Broadway, 4th floor)

Web Video Archive:

This is one of the paintings created so far:

“Girl” 2009, Acrylic on paper, 48″ x40″

To find out more about Art Robotica visit:

More Art Robotica:

Artbots The Testing Begins

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The ArtBots begins to take shape. I started the project by tackling the bot that will be the most complex, the hexapod.

I made a the basic form of the bot using some wood screws and tape to begin testing the movement, software and circuit.

Servo Motor Test from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

I was originally going to attempt to use an Arduino Micro controller to do all the controlling of the servos (video above.) But I slowly realized that to control the timing of all the servos at different time intervals will be a big pain in the butt since the “delay()” function messes with the Arduino code enough to get really buggy.

To hopefully save a headache I bought some servo controllers made by Pololu And so far with the help from Xiaoyang (Alex) Feng and the info posted online about the controller, I got the results I was looking for.

The Pololu Code I used to make the servos move can be found on the Pololu forums The one things that they did not include which is a little confusing, is how to set up the servo controllers if you plan to daisy chain them to control more than 8 servo motors.

To start you should set up your Arduino (above) and a breadboard with the Pololu servo controller (below.)

A couple of things to note:
1. Two different power sources are needed for the servo controllers. One for the controller’s micro controller and the other to power the servo motors. Both power sources should have a common ground.
2. When you set the controller’s number setting, you need to do one at a time.

This is the code I used to program my second controller to know its servos are numbered 8-15 and not 0-7 as they are programmed by default.

The parameter that sets the servo numbers is the fourth “soft.Serial” line of code “softSerial.print(0×01,BYTE);” This variable can be either 0×00 (hexadecimal) to set the controller to use number 0-7 for the servos, 0×01 to set the controller to use number 8-15 for the servos, 0×02 for numbers 16-23, etc…

Once you upload this code you must wait for the servo controller to get reprogrammed. You will know the servo controller’s settings where changed by the blinky lights on the controller.

Pololu Servo Controller Settings from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Once the code has been uploaded and the settings where changes, you MUST delete or comment out, the three lines that set up the servo numbers since you only need to do that step once.

the lines you need to delete or comment out are the following:

Once you comment out the code above, re-load the code onto the Arduino.
When the code is finished uploading nothing will happen, because you need to re-start the Pololu servo controller for the settings to kick in. You can simply unplug the Arduino and the plug it back in to refresh everything. The servos should now move a few degrees back and fourth. Don’t forget to power the servos separately and to have a common ground.

Servo Controller Test from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

I daisy chained three servo controllers together so that I can control 20 servo motors. This is my first test, one serve per servo controller. So far so good.

Testing Servo Controller with Three Servos from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Oscar’s Thesis Concept: The ArtBot

Monday, March 9th, 2009


ArtBots are painting machines that paint their environment in a unique artistic style. They collaborate with each other and with an artist to make a painting. Each robot will have a personality which will translate to their brush strokes and painting style.

These are two quotes from a couple of my favorite artists that inspired me to pursue the concept of a robot artist:

“[painting] is colored dirt smeared on a flat surface, usually stretched around some wooden sticks. And it is for me, the most magical of all mediums. You smear that colored dirt and it makes space where there is no space” ~Chuck Close

“The photograph meant the death of painting, but its resulting to be the opposite. Thanks to photography, art is resuscitating.” ~Salvador Dali

This is what I think the robots will look like in a gallery setting:


The way the robots will function is similar to the way that Jackoon functioned. There will be a video camera in the ceiling that will track the movement of the robots and will be used to know when the robots should paint. All the logic for the painting composition and collision detection will be done in a laptop and sent to the robots with wireless communication. This is an image of the set up:

The mechanics for the mobility of a couple of the robots are inspired by Theo Jansen’s leg design. The other robots will have servo motors and are inspired by hexapod.

I am not the only one using Theo’s leg design, I have a feeling that this design will become very popular as time goes by.

This is a rough sketch of what the robot using the Theo’s leg design may look like, the arrows point to the direction they are facing:

And this is a robot who’s leg design is similar to Theo’s concept but I am hoping that I will be able to get better movement from this design.

This is a simplified sketch of the isolated legs and the places where joints exist:

These are the physical legs that I built and am in the process of testing and some videos that I took of the rough motion that is achieved by the respective designs:


Theo Jansen Leg Design from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.


Theo Jansen Inspired Leg from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Stay tuned for updates on the ArtBots!