Find of the Day: 10 August 2016

Driverless cars, humanoid robots and a primitive computer: are these the most surprising things Leonardo da Vinci ever invented? An exhibition at London’s Science Museum explores his genius.

Famed as a conspirator in The da Vinci Code and as the master painter behind the “Mona Lisa Smile”, Leonardo da Vinci was a true Renaissance man – with passions spanning geology, geometry, astronomy, mathematics, botany, pyrotechnics, optics and zoology. Among his many achievements, he was first to explain why the sky is blue and wrote the words “for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction” 200 years before Newton was born.

But his artistic talent and scientific understanding pale in comparison to a lesser-known side of this enigmatic genius: his inventions.

Da Vinci

Not long ago, Pierre Emm and Johan da Silveira, collectively known as Appropriate Audiences, created a 3D printer that could use a needle to tattoo. Now they’ve taken the automated-tattoo idea a step further, converting an industrial robot like those used to assemble cars into a tattoo machine.

The process is similar for both machines. The body part to be tattooed is 3D scanned and the tattoo is applied to the model. Then that information is exported to the robot, which simply follows directions.

Tattoo robot

At age six, Greg Madison realized his potential. While his dyslexia made some school lessons difficult, it gave him what he equates to “perfect pitch” for magic tricks. Just by watching a magician at work, he could deconstruct the illusion. “I never saw the magic. I only saw the trick,” he says. By age 12, he’d learn the other side of the equation—how to work a crowd—and was sharing the stage with some of the most famous magicians in the world.

Today, Madison admits that his sleight of hand is a bit out of practice. Instead, he applies his unique perspective to a new topic: User interface. At Unity, a company that makes the fundamental technologies behind games like Pokémon Go andGoogle’s upcoming Daydream virtual reality headsets, Madison works in the Labs division, where he experiments with the virtual and augmented interfaces of tomorrow.

While Madison is certainly a futurist, who imagines a mixed reality world where pixels float all around us, he never forgets that, ultimately, the audience must buy into the magic. With that in mind, he shared some of the biggest misconceptions about where our Oculus Rifts and Hololens systems will take us next.

UX Fast.jpg

McEntegart’s company, Vaydor Exotics, is a Florida-based outfit that uses pros from the marine industry (i.e. guys who know fiberglass) to produce the eponymous kits.

What’s amazing is that the car he designed for the movie didn’t come with the six-figure price tag you’d expect. It’s actually an Infiniti G35 wrapped in an $11,000 fiberglass body kit and a $3,000 interior designed and created by McEntegart. (Those are the stock prices, anyway; no word on what he charged the studio.) Even more amazingly, McEntegart explains, “I can’t draw, I have no design experience, so I just shaped it out of foam.”

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