Batman Begins: afterthoughts

In the wake of his parents’ murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.

“Disillusioned industrial heir…” I guess there could be many better ways to describe Bruce Wayne, but actually disillusionment is a good word (maybe mild) to describe the feeling of watching so much underutilised talent, not only among the cast, but the composers too: I was very surprised to know that Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard were both behind the soundtrack, because I found it very correct, but (with all my respects) just that; I would dare to say that it was Continue reading Batman Begins: afterthoughts

Switched on Air

Airswitch can be controlled by simply moving your hand through the air above the product.

I have liked mathmos’ lamps since the first time I saw one of their creations, the aduki, and though lava lamps are not of my preference, I believe that this brand succeeds in offering a consistent line of stylish, well designed, cool products. The Airswitch seems a step forward in their catalog, because it adds a clever and novel approach to the “interface” of a lamp, making it easy and natural. The concept of “gesture control” is nothing new under the sun, from the classic theremin to the air fx (as a music NAN I´m always searching for these kind of gadgets), but I have never seen it applied this way. It could be real fun if my cat learned how to operate it! (no doubt he would) 😛

Related Article: Make your walls glow with sTILE

The anticonversation

how eerie it would be, yet also how peaceful – people all around having conversations on their mobile phones, but without uttering a sound.

If the purpose of the artifacts described has anything to do with conversations, then I would say this is a study case of how a good idea can be ruined by misunderstanding a little detail. The idea of a collar which detects the words pronounced by means of sensing the movement of the vocal cords sounds scfi-fi and interesting, and it reminds me of the sonic weapons described in Dune (though I’d search for other uses since I hate weapons of any kind). As the article tells us, the collar finds out what you’re saying and then re-reproduces the words by means of a computer, and so “the receiver of the call would hear the speaker talking with an artificial voice”. The point is, unless a human is talking to a computer, the human expects to hear human voices in a conversation. I know that Hawking speaks through a computer, but we all have assumed that to be his own voice. However, can you picture yourself talking on the phone with a computerized voice which is supposed to be your mother, your brother? I can’t. What about the battlefield? Will you pay the same attention to the shouts and calls of your comrades when they sound like the droids in Star Wars? (very nice sounds, nevertheless). Finally, what about the loud bar? Just imagine it: the whole symbiosis between bartender and customers reduced to a mere trade between computers. Will the computer reflect the drunkenness too?… In my opinion, when all you have for a conversation is voice, like on the phone, the nuances and subtleties of the other speaker´s voice are essential to set up an emotional context without which there can´t be an engagement enough to provide a satisfactory (say comfortable) communication. In other words, my brother is not an answering machine. (nor does his answering machine speak like a computer).

Anyway, out of conversational purposes the concept is still promising. For instance, in the field of electroacoustic music it would be interesting to make a singer sing along with a robotized doubler, which could add to real time processing of both the organic and electronic voices. Or the device could be used as a sophisticated trigger, so that the performer could change parameters in real time just by whispering what and how much to change. As a whole, it’s as useful for a human-computer communication as useless it is for human-human one.

Edit: I hope not to be misunderstood. My criticism goes towards the use of electronic voices to substitute organic ones in the contexts described in the article, not towards their use as an aid for mute or impaired people.

Leave no space for doubt

The Flasher is the first fully programmable portable scrolling sign that can be used anywhere & stuck to almost anything!

I´ve been thinking on a funny acute comment but actually the flasher speaks for itself. With up to 32 characters, you can wear your resume, your favorite Confucius quote, or just that funny acute comment that will denote how NAN you are. About the pictures and what they do represent, I guess that they’re not very representative of the average user and use of the product… (sticks to almost anything, but seems to have its preferences) 😛

From the rest of the site´s catalog, I’d choose the Krill Lights, if only because they run on batteries and so they don´t wear out (forever) in a few hours. The Glow Gloves are probably too much for me, and the Laserpod seems to offer the kind of balance between sophistication and cheezyness that makes me avidly open the page and then shamefully close it right after.

Everything Vermeer

The Essential Vermeer provides a wide range of in-house resources for studying the work and life of Johannes Vermeer.

This site is simply awesome. It contains a huge amount of information on the great painter: no matter what you’d like to know, you’ll find it here. I wouldn’t know what to highlight, but I found very interesting the articles on the master’s technique and those on the palette he used. If you feel like an expert after all the reading, you can participate in the controversy about the authorship of the recently attributed “A young woman seated at the virginals”.