The DelFly Explorer, the world’s smallest drone, has flapping wings and can fly around by itself, avoiding obstacles, according to developer Guido de Croon of the Delft University of Technology. Weighing 20 grammes, the robot dragonfly uses two tiny low-resolution video cameras, reproducing the 3-D vision of human eyes, and an on-board computer to see its surroundings and avoid crashing into things. It can fly around for up to 9 minutes without needing external control.
Smaller ‘flapping’ drones exist, such as the RoboBee developed by Harvard University students in the US, but they are not autonomous. “The Explorer has its own small lithium polymer battery that allows it to fly for around 9 minutes, while it ‘sees’ with its onboard processor and a specially developed algorithm to make instant decisions.
The drone’s predecessor, the DelFly Micro, was declared the ‘smallest camera equipped aircraft in the world’ in 2008 by the Guinness Book of Records.
(Links: phys.org, www.delfly.nl, Photo of the DelFly Explorer by www.delfly.nl)
Tags: Delft University of Technology, drone
Every video wall that the three entrepreneurs of Stapel.tv create is unique, financial news site Z24 writes.
Instead of clicking together countless similar LED screens the three friends from The Hague use old-fashioned CRT TVs, each screen a unique set.
Dave Seth Paul told Z24: “People hire us because they tire of the same-old state-of-the-art LED screens. Old TVs have a certain charm.”
The company uses old sets they get from friends or that they buy off Marktplaats for ten euro a piece. So far they’ve collected 60 TVs which enables them to build a vintage video wall of 6 by 2.5 metres. The units are driven by tiny Raspberry Pi computers.
For the Leiden International Film Festival a gate of TV sets was built by Stapel.tv (the name means Stack TV), each set displaying on of the movies shown at the festival. In front of the screens a small living had been constructed.
Tags: Leiden, television, television sets, The Hague
Made possible by Studio diip in Leerdam, South Holland, a goldfish is able to swim in a small tank on wheels and drive itself around the room. It can swim towards something shiny and the small tank on wheels will go in that direction. The device is powered by a camera and computer vision software, putting the goldfish at the wheel. We’re also told that the fish gets to go back to a normal tank after going out for a spin.
Although not a proper comparison, it does remind of a cat on a Roomba.
(Photo of Goldfish by angs school, some rights reserved)
Tags: fish, Leerdam, South Holland
Arie van ‘t Riet is a medical physicist who became an artist by accident.
My Modern Met writes:
One day, his colleague asked him to take an X-ray of one of his art paintings. It was a thin object and van’t Riet had never done something like this before, but as he said, “it worked.” This got him thinking about what other kinds of thin objects he could X-ray and flowers came to mind. He started with a bouquet of tulips. The analog image, or the silver bromide X-ray film, resembled a black and white negative. It was digitized, inverted, and then selectively colorized in Photoshop. “And then some people told me that’s art,” he humorously states, “and I became an artist.”
Many more amazing colourized X-rays can be found at the My Modern Met article linked above and at Van ‘t Riet’s own website.
(Link: Boing Boing)
Tags: Arie van 't Riet, medical physics, radiology, still lifes, tulips, x-rays
Two guys from Utrecht, Rami Ismail (25) and Jan Willem Nijman (23), created the game app for iPhone and iPad Ridiculous Fishing that has been chosen as Game of the Year 2013 by Apple. The game was based on a film they saw about overfishing tuna. The main goal is to avoid catching fish on your line. If you do catch some fish, then you have to reel them all in and eventually you get to shoot them in the air.
They had months of struggling with other game studios copying and remaking their originally free game, but after eating noodles for four months and going for gold, Ridiculous Fishing took off and both guys are now rich, making 12,000 euro a week, and sometimes 30,000 to 50,000 euro a week. The game costs 2,69, it is selling like hotcakes and there will be an Android version one of these days.
Tags: app, Apple, iPad, iPhone, Utrecht
By not informing its users about what data it collects and by not asking for permission, Google is breaking the Dutch data protection act, privacy watchdog CBP said in a press release last Thursday.
The investigation shows that Google combines personal data relating to Internet users that the company obtains from different services. Google does this, amongst others, for the purposes of displaying personalised ads and to personalise services such as YouTube and Search. Some of these data are of a sensitive nature, such as payment information, location data and information on surfing behaviour across multiple websites. Data about search queries, location data and video’s watched can be combined, while the different services serve entirely different purposes from the point of view of users.
Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet points to a peculiarity of Dutch privacy law that says you have to ask users for informed consent. It’s not enough to say ‘this is how we deal with your privacy’, users should be able to understand what is going to happen and say ‘no’ before it happens. Also, Google shouldn’t say what they could do with your data, they are obliged to say what they will do with your data.
Apparently Google tried to defend themselves by claiming they do not collect personal data, they merely create profiles. CBP quotes Google’s own CEO Eric Schmidt back at them who once stated: “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” Google’s chief Internet evangelist (and Internet co-inventor) Vint Cerf said two weeks ago at a privacy and security workshop of (of all people) the US Trade Commission (40 minutes into the video): “I would not go as far as to simply, baldy assert that privacy is dead. [...] But let me tell you that it would be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy. I want you to think for just a minute about the fact that privacy may actually be an anomaly.”
Engelfriet concludes: “Google of course believes the criticism is invalid and uses a barrage of marketing language [...] to keep dancing around the issue. And that is all that will happen. I don’t see what kind of effective measures CBP can take to make Google fundamentally change its ways—which is a pity, because this is one of the most substantial reports CBP has issued in a long time.”
(Link: the Register; photo by Jeff Schuler, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eric Schmidt, Google, privacy, Vint Cerf
Popular Dutch social network Hyves will stop operations on 2 December, Parool reported last month.
Although the paper doesn’t mention why the site is shutting down, it’s likely because Hyves was haemorrhaging visitors to Facebook, which offers a similar experience but to an international audience. The international ambitions of Hyves can presumably best be summed up by its name, which is the English word (spelled slightly different) for a skin rash. Marketing Facts reported in March 2012 that Hyves led Facebook by almost 3 million unique Dutch visitors in December 2010. Twelve months later that number was reversed. (The Netherlands has approximately 16 million inhabitants, 10 million of whom were Hyves members at the site’s peak .)
Starting today Hyves allows users to download the photos, videos, messages and so on that they left on the site. The download window is only two weeks. Parool further reports that the Hyves servers currently hold over 1 petabyte in data. Although Hyves will stop as a general social network, it will try and continue as a gaming website.
Update 17 November 2013: Volkskrant reports that Dutch people in their late teens are abandoning Facebook in droves. Of those aged 16 – 19 who had a Facebook account last year, 52% had abandoned their account by this year. On the whole Facebook is still growing though. Volkskrant suspects young people simply do not want to share a network with older relatives.
(Photo of a bus stop ad by Patrick Nielsen Hayden showing how in 2009 Hyves was considered the prime application of a smart phone, some rights reserved)
Tags: Facebook, Hyves, Internet
Dear big cheeses at Philips,
You do realise that your new logo is just a revamping of the old one, with elements from back in the days when you guys were making radios and light bulbs. Sure, retro can be cool, but one wonders about how much work was really put into this as opposed to how well it was pitched to you as being new. In other words, it kind of looks as if you’ve been had: the logo looks like it belongs on a football jersey and the redesigned waves remind me of Pepsi Cola.
Your last pay-off, ‘Sense and Simplicity’, sounded too much like the novel ‘Sense and Sensibility’ by Jane Austen, but I’m sure you got that a lot. ‘Simplicity’ was never really a good idea since you make very complicated products for medical purposes and not just coffee machines for the masses. I could speculate that you were more concerned with trying to convince yourselves than your intended consumers.
Your new pay-off, ‘Innovation and You’, tells me you’ve figured out that ‘simplicity’ was not the way to go and that everyone should benefit from innovation when they buy your products. I like that. However, your retro logo seems to contradict your pay-off: you are trying to move forward while clinging to the glories of the past. That is what hipsters are doing and it’s not really working for them either.
(Link and screenshot: www.amsterdamadblog.com)
Tags: logo, Philips
Mobile phone manufacturer Motorola has announced it will be working with Dave Hakkens on his modular phone project Phonebloks.
More precisely, Motorola has been working on its own modular system in the past year called Project Ara, which is designed to be “a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”
The manufacturer will now be “engaging with the Phonebloks community throughout [Project Ara's] development process.” The idea behind Phonebloks is to create a modular phone to combat electronic waste—instead of throwing out an entire phone because a component is broken, you swap out the broken component instead. Phonebloks is looking for manufacturers who want to work in their ecosystem.
Motorola was once a major player on the mobile phone market. It was recently acquired by Google. Dave Hakkens is a 2013 graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven.
(Via The Verge)
Tags: Dave Hakkens, Design Academy Eindhoven, Eindhoven Design Academy, Google, GSM, mobile phones, Motorola, Phonebloks, Project Ara
Dutch dictionary Van Dale is considering a bunch of English words as well as translated English words to be included into the Dutch language. The words are often slang that goes mainstream and IT-related words.
Selfie – Same meaning and spelling as in English, taking a picture of yourself with a mobile phone.
Shishapen – In English ‘shisha pen’, an electric cigarette, shisha being of Egyptian origin.
Sukkelseks – Dutch for low-quality sex, although I thought it meant ‘pity sex’.
Gamechanger – ‘Game changer’, used by politicians and business people.
Factchecken – ‘Fact checking’, since the Dutch already use ‘checken’ (‘to check’) because it is more to the point than a Dutch construction.
3D-printer – Again the Dutch use ‘printer’, so this is a logical extension.
In May of this year, words like ‘religiestress’ (‘religion stress’, stress caused by religious beliefs) and ‘chillaxen’ (‘to chillax’, a slang word that combines ‘chill and relax’) were added to the online version of the Van Dale.
And finally words that are actually Dutch: ‘vingerpistool’ (‘finger pistol’, a gesture that indicates you’re shooting at someone) and ‘roeptoeteren’ (roughly pronounced ROOP-too-tee-ren), to give your opinion in a really loud and poorly considered manner.
(Links: www.nieuws.nl, www.rtlnieuws.nl)
Tags: dictionary, Van Dale