September 7, 2013

Kid Baltan’s experiments with electronic music

Filed under: Music,Technology by Branko Collin @ 12:12 pm

In 1956 Dutch electronics giant Philips decided to see if there was a future for electronic music. It created a Studio for Electronic Music (STEM, also the Dutch word for ‘voice’) and let composers/engineers Tom Dissevelt, Dick Raaijmakers and others work there.

The studio was part of Philips’ famous research facility NatLab, a name which aided Raaijmakers in finding the stagename Kid Baltan (the reverse of Dik Natlab). From 1956 to 1960 composers had access to the most sophisticated technology and used tape splicing to combine sounds into musical compositions. Raaijmakers explains on Youtube how it worked.

Somewhere during that time Edgar Varése worked for nine months at STEM on his Poème électronique.

Philips lost interest in the project. STEM was moved to the university of Utrecht and Dissevelt and Raaijmakers moved on to other projects. Today STEM lives on at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague where Raaijmakers taught Electronic and Contemporary Music from 1966 to 1995. Last week Kid Baltan died at a retirement home in the same city at the age of 83.

(Links: Weirdomusic, NRC. Photo by Wikimedia user Rosemoon, some rights reserved.)

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December 26, 2012

Dutch masters recreated through ironing

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 6:10 pm

A Philips ad for the company’s line of irons has been doing the rounds on the Internet.

In it an anonymous artist recreates portraits by famous Dutch painters such as Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer and self-portraits by Van Gogh and Rembrandt using little more than a white sheet and a steam iron.

The ad was made by the Russian branch of DDB, a worldwide advertising agency.

(Photo: crop of the video. Link: Trendbeheer)

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April 8, 2012

Philips getting out of the TV business

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 11:53 am

Dutch electronics giant Philips has sold its television division to TPV Technology from Taiwan.

The company from Eindhoven is 30% owner of TPV, and will license its name to the Taiwanese for five years, with an option of a five year extension. The new TPV owned TV manufacturer will be called TP Vision, and will headquarter in Amsterdam, Bright reports.

In the last quarter Philips’ television division lost 272 million euro.

(Photo of the first Philips colour TV from 1964 by Philips, used with permission)

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November 7, 2011

Mobile restaurant modelled after apple crates

Filed under: Design,Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 8:42 am

One of this year’s Eindhoven Design Academy’s graduation projects was Ardie van Bommel’s Pure Nature.

The project consists of a group of tables, chairs and kitchen islands that were all made to look like they were made out of apple crates. Van Bommel originally wanted to use actual apple crates, but that approach did not lead to the desired results, Man and Public Space Magazine wrote.

Van Bommel even made, it seems, a diorama of her apple crate restaurant inside—you guessed it—an apple crate. Her website suggests that this restaurant was made for the Philips Fruittuin (a former job creation project initiated by the local electronics giant), although it’s not clear to me whether the set-up has ever been in actual use.

Via the Pop-Up City which has been running a series showcasing “ten great designs spotted at the Design Academy’s graduation show“.

See also: Mirrors that look like holes in the wall and other Eindhoven Design Academy graduation projects.


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January 23, 2011

Samsung buys display maker Liquavista

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 1:48 pm

Dutch Philips spin-off Liquavista develops so-called electrowetting displays, a form of electronic paper that has the reflective capacities of regular paper, but the live updating capabilities of LCD screens.

Traditionally e-paper has been very slow. If you own a Kindle you know it can take a second or longer to update a screen. Animation and video need 15 updates a second to make the illusion of movement work (see ‘frame rate’, ‘persistence of vision’), and the Liquavista displays promise to deliver this.

According to Intomobile, Samsung anounced their purchase last Friday. It is unknown what the electronics giant paid.

Liquavista is a product of the Philips’ High Tech Campus, formerly known as Natlab, in Eindhoven.

Video: Youtube/

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September 24, 2010

Philips GoGear Connect: an Android phone without the phone?

Filed under: Gadgets by Branko Collin @ 8:58 pm

Engadget is none too impressed in their hands-on review with Philips’ latest Android PMP, the GoGear Connect:

Overall, we came away feeling like this is an interesting version 1.0 effort in a world of version 2.0 and 3.0 Android devices — and considering that Philips has mostly been a no-show in the smartphone game for the past several years, we can’t say we blame them for the Connect’s shortcomings. […] In the meantime, €250 (about $320) for a rough-around-the-edges 16GB media player — even more for the 32GB model — is a tough sell.

The tech-blog is hopeful though:

Dedicated PMPs aren’t necessarily a hot category at the moment, but add a year or two of refinement and some 3G radios to this bad boy, and there’s no reason to think the Dutch giant couldn’t get back into the phone race in a big way.

(Photo: Philips Communications)

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July 22, 2010

Sports park lit up entirely with LED lighting

Filed under: Dutch first,Science,Sports,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 11:26 am

As of September, a sports park in Eindhoven (three football pitches, four tennis courts and the rest of the place) will be entirely lit using LED lights, made popular in its mordern-day version sometime around 1999 by Dutch firm Philips, headquartered in Eindhoven.

Local newspaper Eindhovens Dagblad claims that this is a world first, as they couldn’t find anyone else who did this. LED lighting is much less energy consuming that regular lighting, up to 60% according to measurements quoted in the newspaper.

(Link:, Photo of LED lighting project by Velo Steve, some rights reserved)

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June 13, 2010

E-book pioneer iRex files for bankruptcy

Filed under: Literature,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:31 pm

In 2006 I borrowed Orangemaster’s camera, hopped on the train to Eindhoven, and visited a start-up at Philips’ famous High Tech Campus to look at its single, yet to be released product, the Iliad e-reader. Today I learnt through newspaper FD that the former start-up Irex has filed for and received bankruptcy (Dutch).

The Iliad was an E Ink based tablet computer suited mainly for reading, hence the name. At the time, only Sony had a comparable device, the Librié.

Irex’s goal was to replace paper, not necessarily to compete with similar e-readers for consumers. To that effect, its reader had a larger screen and it could also be written to using a stylus. The company left selling books to third parties, expecting content providers to bundle the Iliad with their products. The intended customers for the device weren’t novel readers, but students, lawyers and others used to toting around kilos of text books and note pads each day.

Later, Irex also turned to the consumer market, where it had to compete with the Kindle, the Apple Ipad and the newer Sony devices, and even the Bebook, another Dutch brand of e-reader. Apparently, trying to introduce its latest consumer device in the USA is what broke the camel’s back. Disappointing sales due to a late FCC approval (only after the Christmas season) meant that Irex’s cash flow dried up,

The good news is that besides its cash flow problem, Irex is apparently in good health, and has a lot of intellectual capital. The type of bankruptcy that they have filed for and received last Tuesday, called surseance van betaling, does not mean the end of the company but merely a temporary stop of its obligation to pay bills. Irex owes more than 5 million euro, mostly to Deutsche Bank. FD reports in a follow-up article that lots of other companies are interested in buying the outfit.

See also:

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September 26, 2009

Nespresso most expensive cup of coffee

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 1:08 pm

Consumentenbond compared the prices of making a single cup of coffee in regular households and came up with the following figures, according to Z24 (Dutch):

  • Instant: 3 euro cent.
  • Regular (using a coffee filter): 4 euro cent.
  • Aldi pods for Senseo: 5 euro cent.
  • Albert Heijn pods for Senseo: 7 euro cent.
  • Official Douwe Egberts pods for Senseo: 9 euro cent.
  • Nespresso: 33 euro cent.

Of course, the real coffee snobs own (or want to own) their personal espresso machine. Senseo pods are called pads in the Netherlands, but when Philips and Douwe Egberts decided to export their product they wisely chose to avoid any associations with women’s hygienic products. The Albert Heijn figure was added by me.

I switched to Senseo myself, because using the regular method you never end up with just a single cup, and instant coffee is just vile.

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August 16, 2009

Lighting up the Kinderdijk

Filed under: Architecture,Art,Gadgets by Orangemaster @ 12:33 pm

From 7 through 20 September, the 19 historic windmills of the Kinderdijk, on the UNESCO heritage list since 1997, will be lit up with colourful, energy-efficient LED lighting from Philips and installed by Technische Unie. The colours of the windmills will represent different symbols of Dutch history. For starters, this red, white and blue with subtle orange overtones surely represents the Dutch flag and pennant.

Even my own family visited the Kinderdijk when they came to the Netherlands because it was in their guide book as a must. It was touristy, but not busy or crowded and you’ll learn a lot about water drainage.

(Link and photo:

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