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May 26, 2016

Dutch master has mobile phone in it

Filed under: Art,Technology by Orangemaster @ 9:35 pm

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has been working in Amsterdam this week, and he also decided to soak up some culture by visiting the Rijksmuseum with former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Cook’s eye fell on a painting from 1670 entitled ‘Man handing a letter to a woman in the entrance hall of a house’ by Pieter de Hooch, where the letter looks a bit like a mobile phone. Cook did think it was a Rembrandt because well, why not, and he also thought the letter looked like an iPhone, when it fact it looks more like a smaller type of mobile phone if you ask me.

Until January this year the Mauritshuis in The Hague had an exhibition entitled ‘Dutch Self-Portraits – Selfies of the Golden Age, which definitely has a mobile phone quality to it.

(Link: www.at5, Photo by William Hook, some rights reserved)

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May 1, 2016

Inventor of bike sharing explains why his plan never caught on in Amsterdam

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 4:59 pm

white-bikes-hoge-veluwe-ellywaAlthough bike share systems are increasingly popular all over the world, they have failed to catch on in Amsterdam, the city where bike sharing was invented.

British newspaper The Guardian asked the inventor of bike sharing, Luud Schimmelpennink, about the reason behind this lack of popularity.

In the mid-1960s members of the Provo movement were asking all kinds of questions of the Dutch establishment (the name Provo stands for provocation) and they were not liking the answers they were getting. Young engineer Luud Schimmelpennink was tackling the question of personal transport. In 1965 he proposed and implemented an alternative to the “gaudy and filthy motor car”, the white bicycle.

Schimmelpennink envisioned bikes that weren’t locked and that would be left wherever their riders needed to be. Provo painted 20 bicycles white and left them in the city, but these bikes were promptly impounded by the police.

“The first Witte Fietsenplan was just a symbolic thing,” Schimmelpennink told the Guardian last week. “We painted a few bikes white, that was all. Things got more serious when I became a member of the Amsterdam city council two years later.”

“My idea was that the municipality of Amsterdam would distribute 10,000 white bikes over the city, for everyone to use. I made serious calculations. It turned out that a white bicycle – per person, per kilometre – would cost the municipality only 10% of what it contributed to public transport per person per kilometre.”

The council soundly rejected his plan and told him that they saw a great future for the private motor car. This inspired Schimmelpennink to work on his White Car Plan instead – still using clean(ish) energy.

There is a phrase in Dutch – de wet van de remmende voorsprong, meaning ‘the law of the handicap of a head start’. The fact that Amsterdam was the first to experiment with bike sharing perhaps helps explain why it is late in its implementation. Or perhaps Amsterdam doesn’t need a bike share scheme, because everybody either owns a bike or can readily rent one from OV Fiets or the many bike shops in the city.

Schimmelpennink’s vision wasn’t wasted though, as he inspired other cities throughout the world to implement their own bike sharing schemes. And even his own plan got implemented, just not in Amsterdam. The Hoge Veluwe nature reserve has bikes that have been painted white and that are free to use. The program started in 1974 with 50 bikes and exists to this day. It currently consists of 1,800 bicycles.

(Photo of white bicycles in Hoge Veluwe by Ellywa, some rights reserved)

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April 25, 2016

Charging up your phone while you fidget

Filed under: Design,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am

Moov

For those of us who can’t still still, imagine sitting or moving around in your chair and charging your mobile phone at the same time. Thanks to Dutch designer Nathalie Teugels, you’ll be able to do just that: her chair called MOOV has 288 piezoelectric crystals under the seat cushion that produces electricity when it’s compressed.

Teugels was told way too often to ‘sit still’ and instead of catering to that, she decided to design something that would embrace the fidgeting, especially people with ADD. In fact, sitting upright in the chair can charge it up as well, so it’s a win-win for anyone sitting down. The chair is currently a working prototype, so we’ll have to sit tight for a while until we can get one.

If someone could do that with the utterly useless and annoying habit of pen clicking, I’d be a tad less misophonic. I actually carry pens around to switch them out to people who click them.

NTEUGELS PRESENTS MOOV from RAHVICE on Vimeo.

(Links: mentalfloss.com, photo: nteugels.tumblr.com)

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April 17, 2016

Make your own plastic reuse devices

Filed under: Design,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 2:27 pm

plastic-bag-kate-ter-haar

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens has created devices described as ‘a solution to plastic pollution’ that people can download and build themselves. The series is called Precious Plastic machines, which uses everyday materials and basic tools Hakkens says are available around the world.

Precious Plastic machines include a shredder, extruder, injection moulder and a rotation moulder, which can all be used to turn waste plastic into new products. Hakkens first showed prototype versions at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show in 2013, and has spent the last two years refining the designs.

Hakkens wants to deal with the reported 311 million tonnes of plastic waste humans create every year, of which less than 10 per cent is actually recycled. “A lot of things we have are made from plastic. It’s used everywhere, but it also ends up everywhere, damaging our planet.”

In late 2013 Hakkens partnered up with Motorola in order to create mobile phones to combat electronic waste: not throwing out an entire phone and swapping out a broken component instead.

(Link: www.dezeen.com, Photo by Kate ter Haar, some rights reserved)

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April 9, 2016

Cow films its own spring dance in the field

Filed under: Animals,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:10 pm

Watching the cows finally go outside in the spring is a great Dutch tradition, and now that tradition was taken to the next level with some fine bovine camera work.

Entitled ‘it’s Cow or Never’, a play on words of the Elvis song ‘It’s Now or Never’ (a cover of the old Neapolitan song O Sole Mio), you can pretend you’re a dancing cow and watch yourself from above and below thanks to the power of editing and two GoPro cameras attached to a happy cow.

The cows come from a cheese far in Dronten, Flevoland. The farmer claims the cows were jealous of the cow with the new gadget, because the filming cow’s cameras ended up in the mud after 15 min due to some head butting.

Check out the sniffing, nuzzling and head butts for yourself:

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl)

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April 8, 2016

Self-driving trucks in first-ever cross-border convoy

Filed under: Automobiles,Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 9:18 am

Dutch-truck

A small convoy of six self-driving trucks arrived in the Port of Rotterdam this week after an experiment organisers say will “revolutionise future road transport on Europe’s busy highways”. Some of the trucks in this convoy came from as far as Sweden and Southern Germany, and some of you may have even passed them without knowing it.

This ‘truck platooning’ involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in a convoy, connected by wireless with the leading truck determining route and speed. It it is said to ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen also explains that self-driving vehicles contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.

The trucks drive at a constant speed, maintain the same distance between them by braking at the same time, while standardisation will allow trucks from different companies to ‘talk to each other’.

The Netherlands currently holds the EU presidency and plans to hold an informal summit in a few weeks to discuss changes to regulations needed to “make self-driving transport a reality.”

(Link: phys.org, Photo of Dutch Daf & Flower Trailer by Lewis William Harris – Transport, some rights reserved)

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April 4, 2016

Dutch robots on top again in Eindhoven

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:34 am

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The Eindhoven University of Technology that keeps on winning prestigious prizes with their football-playing robots took first place in the Robocup European Open held in Eindhoven last week.

According to team coach Lotte de Koning, they made a tactical switch to shoot at the goal faster and more often in the second half to make it a 2-0 victory against Portugal.

And that’s not all. Amigo the robot that usually helps with household chores won some sort of chore competition that consisted of taking orders and fulfilling them. Some 15,000 spectators came and checked out the robots, including 2,000 just to catch the football final.

Team Eindhoven is now in a good spot to come into the Robocup 2016 this June in Leipzig, Germany.

(Link: nu.nl, Photo of RoboCup2013 in Eindhoven by RoboCup2013, some rights reserved)

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March 23, 2016

Robot falcon wins Tech Transfer award in Ljubljana

Filed under: Animals,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:02 pm

geese-don-deboldA mechanic peregrine falcon was named the best innovation of the year at the European Robotics Forum in Ljubljana this week, Tubantia reports.

The winning robot is called Robird and is made by Clear Flight Solutions from Enschede, a spin-off of the University of Twente. It mimics the flight of the peregrine falcon and is used to keep the air space near airports clear from birds such as geese.

In an interview in 2014 with RTV Noord Holland (see below), CEO Nico Nijenhuis said that real falcons will only hunt when hungry. They also tire quickly. “Once [a peregrine falcon] has made two flights in a row, it’s really tired. [Our robot] on the other hand keeps going. You swap out a battery and it’s good to go.”

Clear Flight Solutions received 1.6 million euro in funding from the Cottonwood Technology Fund last week and is in talks with Schiphol Airport for a pilot project [pun unavoidable]. Nijenhuis told RTL Nieuws last week: “Dutch rules are very strict, but we expect to have our paperwork in order within six weeks.”

See also: Scaring off seagulls with drones in Haarlem

(Photo of geese flying by Don DeBold, some rights reserved)

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March 21, 2016

Drones take your order and bring you drinks

Filed under: Food & Drink,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:20 am

During the Dream and Dare festival on April 22 through 24 at the Eindhoven University of Technology to celebrate their 60th anniversary, they’ll be tech, innovation and debates as well as art, music and food. The food part will have drones acting as waiters, happily combining tech and drinks.

At the drone café, visitors will be able to order drinks from one drone while its drone colleague brings the drinks to you. It sounds way easier than it is to have drones flying indoors instead of outdoors. They need to fly much more accurately, they need to make way less noise and they need to not clip off any fingers when you grab your drinks from their talons. As well, the drones can only handle 300 grams of weight at a time.

Tessie Hartjes, of the student workgroup Blue Jay Eindhoven, says the combination of navigating and grasping is a big deal. She explains that although the drones use speech recognition software (and I’m assuming it only understands Dutch), the café is too noisy for that to work properly so you can order from the bar, old school. The drones also fly a certain route that you cannot walk into for fear of causing an accident. You can also pay to the drone, and tipping them might actually make them tip. I’m kidding.

(Link: www.tue.nl, www.bright.nl, Photo of Drone by Karen Axelrad, some rights reserved)

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February 2, 2016

Police train eagles to attack drones

Filed under: Animals,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am

Instead of scaring off seagulls with eagle noises like in Haarlem in 2015, the Dutch police have stepped up their game and are now training eagles to knock out ‘enemy’ drones out of the air. The idea was to find a way to get rid of drones that are not allowed to fly in certain spaces, such as protected airspaces. The video below tells of a trauma helicopter not being able to land because some moron was flying a drone and blocking the way or another moron flying their drone next to busy Schiphol Airport.

Finding the drone pilot can be very difficult and take a long time, a policeman explains. The eagle in the video grabs the drone with its talons, which are designed to carry things as opposed to just having claws like many other animals. There’s also less impressive tools they plan to use such as casting a net over the drone somehow. “The eagle sees the drone as prey and wants to bring it to a safe location and protect it from outsiders”. The trainers are not worried about the propellers hurting the animal, although opinions might differ on that point. The eagle may even get special gear for protection.

It’s in Dutch, but it’s all about watching the eagle catch the drone.

(Link: www.theverge.com, Photo of Drone by Karen Axelrad, some rights reserved)

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