The Eindhoven science museum Evoluon had to close its doors in the 1980s, but a 12-minute-long promotional film made in 1968 provides a fascinating insight into the experience for those who never got to see the real thing.
Visitors would enter a UFO-like building perched on top of a glass frame, pay at turnstiles and take an elevator to the saucer section. There they would be greeted by exhibits about motion, magnetism, engineering, the human body, sound, light, society and more. The basement had a popular electronic speech synthesizer that could be made to say the word ‘koffie’ (‘coffee’) using different inflections.
A lot of the exhibits were operated by the visitors themselves.
The film would find an unexpected audience in the UK as it had been selected by the BBC as one of its 158 colour trade test films which were broadcast during intervals in the regular BBC2 programming. The idea was to give electronics store owners a chance to show off their colour TV sets to shoppers.
Dutch satirist Johan Vlemmix, who brought us questionable songs about wearing a burqa and buses full of Polish people, is currently designing a phone app.
Motivated by the amount of fines he has had for using a mobile phone while driving and causing minor accidents ‘with no injuries’, Vlemmix’s app would provide the equivalent of an ‘out of office’ reply but then an ‘I’m driving’ version for all incoming messages, including social media. The app would be available in September for Android and iPhone, and it will be free.
Besides replying to the recipient who wonders why you’re not answering them back quickly, Vlemmix would leave his phone alone much easier knowing a reply was sent. Maybe he needs to tell his recipients to chill or needs to learn to let go of his phone while driving and realise that it is illegal to drive and text because it’s dangerous.
You meet someone and you want to exchange all your social media details, and that’s a lot of work. Dutch-born David Wyler and his American business partner Ankur Jain, both Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with many accolades, have developed a free mobile app called ‘Knock Knock’ that lets you swap details and instantly follow people. Unfortunately, Google Play won’t let me download it to my Samsung Galaxy to try it out, but y’all go ahead.
The app has received undisclosed investments from British investor Richard Branson, American rapper Will.i.am. and American actor Sophia Bush who can all be seen in the promo video. For reasons unknown – and I have asked – Bush was left out of the Dutch sources of this article as well as Jain, which is very odd.
Knock Knock is apparently the third in a series of similar apps, as Spincard and Bump were first, but are not around anymore. Maybe third time’s the charm.
Earlier this year Dutch company Oxboard launched a two-wheeled, self-balancing transport device that looks like a cross between a Segway without handlebars and a skateboard. It uses four gyroscopes that correct balance in real time, allowing users to go backwards and forwards, and spin around. The Oxboard’s maximum speed is 15 kilometres per hour and a full battery can transport you for 20 kilometres.
Currently only available through the company’s website with a price tag of 799 euro, Oxboard was designed in Eindhoven and is manufactured in Asia. It is both for business and pleasure, and will soon be presented in Berlin at a major trade show in order to entice the rest of Europe. Although not my cup of tea, I can’t find anything really wrong with it except for the prohibitive price, which might go down eventually.
One of the most remarkable buildings of Eindhoven is the former science museum of Eindhoven, Evoluon. The building was designed by architect Leo de Bever who died last Friday, and ‘light architect’ Louis Kalff.
De Bever came from a family of architects responsible for many buildings in Eindhoven. He worked on banks, hospitals and schools all over Noord-Brabant. De Bever studied architecture at the Academie voor Bouwkunst in Tilburg and at Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. In 2007 he and his brother Loed sold their architecture business to Leo’s son Stefan and to Heleen van Heel.
The Evoluon building housed Philips’ science museum from 1966 to 1989. When Philips started with cutbacks in the 1980s, Evoluon was, as a non-essential part of the home electronics giant, a logical victim. Keeping the exhibit up-to-date was considered costly and was highlighted as an important reason to close the museum. Since then Evoluon has operated as a conference center, but its lasting futuristic appeal has not gone unnoticed. In recent years, Evoluon was home of Kraftwerk concerts, Tedx conferences and science exhibitions.
London-based Dutch designer Frank Kolkman, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, has built an open-source device that could enable ordinary people to perform keyhole surgery on themselves, aptly entitled ‘Open Surgery’.
This DIY surgical robot was made using 3D printing and laser cutting technologies, and would be suited to do surgery on the lower abdomen, procedures including prostate surgery, appendectomies or hysterectomies. The device would normally be controlled by a person and in this case, using a PlayStation 3 controller to be able to move in all directions.
“Open Surgery investigates whether DIY surgical tools outside regulated healthcare systems could plausibly provide a more accessible version of healthcare,” Kolkman explains. His idea is to demonstrate that medical innovation can come from outside the medical field, as more and more people from first world countries turn to medical hacks that can be found on YouTube.
It cost Kolkman 5,000 USD to make the device, and at the time of filming, he claims that an appendectomy in the US costs 10,000 USD, while a professional surgery robot costs 2 mln USD.
According to Maartje de Graaf who recently earned her PhD from the University of Twente, a ‘social robot’ with an overly human appearance creates an unrealistic sense of expectation for most Dutch people. They feel that a robot should not resemble a human being and that the distinction between human and robot needs to remain clear, unlike Japanese humanoid robots that attempt to resemble humans.
De Graaf’s research reveals that people quickly treat robots as human objects after working or living with them for only a short while. “Although most people would reasonably agree that robots are programmed machines that only simulate social behavior, the same people seem to ‘forget’ this while interacting with these machines, treating the robot as a social other fellow human being and even care for it as they would one of their own family members.”
De Graaf soon plans to investigate whether and how the relationships some users are willing to establish with social robots can contribute to the psychological well-being of those users, often with the elderly mentioned as a target group.
Would you like to own a ‘real’ Van Gogh without either risking bankruptcy or an entry in Interpol’s ‘most wanted’ list?
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam comes to the rescue. In 2013 the museum started a collaboration with Fujifilm to 3D print copies of famous Vincent van Gogh paintings that are said to be indistinguishable from the originals when viewed with the naked eye.
The copy is so good that it is indistinguishable from the original. Not nearly distinguishable, not even a little, just not at all. Yesterday I stood in front of one, an experience which left me flabbergasted. You are for all intents and purposes looking at a true Van Gogh – in my case The Harvest from 1888, one of the painter’s most famous works – with the exact same colours as the original, the exact same highlights, relief, everything.
So far [the museum has failed to] find customers, but that would seem to be a matter of time.
The possibilities of this technology boggle the mind. Van Gogh Museum hints at some of them when it alludes to its “mission to inspire and enrich as large an audience as possible”. In other words, next time you stand in front of a Van Gogh, it might not even be the original.
Bird photographers are apparently causing problems for birds by using a phone app with bird song to lure the feathered creatures. Sounds harmless, but according to a Dutch nature website, the app used by the photographers stresses birds, making them want to defend their territory against an invisible enemy instead of using their energy for the breeding season, building nests and the likes.
The app can be played loudly on mobile devices, but should in fact be used to recognise bird song, not lure birds. By law, animals in nature that are protected species cannot be upset on purpose, but some photographers are probably going to continue to do so, as the chances of being caught are probably next to nothing.
Startup company MX3D that does 3D printing of metals and resin in mid-air has plans to print a steel bridge in Amsterdam without any additional support structures. Using ‘multi-axis’ industrial robots and an advanced welding machine, MX3D can print with steel, stainless steel, aluminium, bronze and copper in mid-air. In September the city of Amsterdam will announce where the bridge will be built.
“The robots will begin printing the bridge on one side of the canal and will create rail supports as they go. They will be able to gradually slide forward on supports, literally creating the bridge upon which they are crossing the canal.” MX3D’s bridge will be made of a new steel composite designed by the University of Delft.