SixthSense – Pranav Mistry’s Genius Idea

I hope that a billion times more people know about the TED Talks than know about JimOnLight.com.

The TED people have some of the most unbelievably intelligent people gravitating around them – or perhaps more accurately, they are revolving around a body of smarts to massive that I have not yet to this day been disappointed with.  So much, in fact, that I ended that sentence with a preposition just thinking about it’s awesomeness.

Okay, I’m not gonna say too much about what the subject in the video below is, but I want you all to just imagine having a small device on your person that could do everything you could think of, including making calls.  Oh wait, you’re thinking – I have an iPhone for that.  So do I, and I love it.  But imagine that, instead of interacting with your iPhone on it’s terms, the device interacted with your daily existence on your turf.

A few weeks ago one of my former Sweden colleagues (thanks, Kunal!) sent around  a TED video on something called “SixthSense” – a technology that basically takes the idea behind carrying around a display and turns it upside down and several angles of the meridian towards ridiculously awesome.  That all make sense?  The guy behind the mystery, Pranav Mistry, has created a device that has a high level of intellect, and projects data with light onto the surfaces in your life.

This idea is mindblowing.  I am turned upside down with this idea.  Thank you, Pranav.  Can I buy you a beer?

Check out this video, you owe it to yourself:

TED Talks – Pranav Mistry and the SixthSense Technology from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

TED Talks: Beau Lotto, The Eyes, and The Power of Reality

Have you ever heard of the TED Talks?  TED Talks are lectures from remarkable people in the world, and they’re all free.  The best thing about the TED talks is that not only are they free (like all helpful and inspiring ideas should be) but they are actually something that gives you insight into the mind of someone truly interested in improving the world.

As you can imagine, something that deals with light and that is inspiring is of great interest to me.  I just found a great TED talk – perfect for your Friday morning in the office or at home sipping that first (or second, I suppose, at least in my case) cup of coffee.  Meet Beau Lotto – he’s a guy who is shedding light onto the long time mystery of the brain’s complex visual system.  From TED’s website about why you should watch this video:

“Let there be perception,” was evolution’s proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place — where what an organism’s brain sees diverges from what is actually out there — is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. (Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.) The data captured isn’t just discarded, either: it’s put to good use in probing scientific papers, and sometimes in more exhibits.

Outside the studio work, the brain-like (that is, multidisciplinary) organization is also branching out to bigger public engagement works. It’s holding regular “synesthetic workshops” where kids and adults make “color scores” — abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, as with scrolls fed to a player piano. And lately they’re planning an outdoor walkway of color-lit, pressure-sensitive John Conway-esque tiles that react and evolve according to foot traffic. These and Lotto’s other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception — and our perceptions of what science can be.

Lotto teaches at University College London.

“All his work attempts to understand the visual brain as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality.”

British Science Association

Ok, the video is more than five minutes, but it is an investment in intelligence. Check it out:

Make sure to check out some of TED’s other lectures (well worth the time), and definitely check out Beau’s laboratory, Lotto Lab.

Vesa Honkonen’s Lecture at KTH

vesa-honkonen

Last Thursday I was in attendance at a lecture given by Vesa Honkonen, an architect and lighting designer in Finland – Vesa came to KTH Haninge and gave a lecture on several topics, including art and the commercialization of design.  He was gracious enough to talk to us about several of his projects in recent past, and show us his process – including process sketches, notes, and images of projects in various stages of completion.

I have to admit that this lecture blew my mind open into little nondescript pieces.  We hadn’t started classes yet (we officially started lectures for the first course module last Monday), so it was an incredible start to our program.

The lecture was fantastic, I cannot say that enough – Vesa talked about many topics, but there were two that really rattled the inside of my cranium.  As lighting designers across the world in our respective industries we must consider what is mainstream and what is avant garde.  As ideas and designs that are new and different propagate in the industry and all around us, they’re considered avant garde.  This idea isn’t limited to any industry – it’s about art, design, and anything else subjective.  For example – my wife does amazing things with cascading style sheet programming, and I always consider her ideas and her understanding to be so far above the mainstream thinking that it amazes me every time she tells me about her projects.  At what point does her thinking about CSS become how everyone thinks?  At some point in every industry, in art, and in design, the mainstream thinking is replaced by what was once considered edgy, different, and not mainstream.

Thinking outside of the mainstream and going against the flow is how we progress.  This is not to say that everything mainstream is crap and that we have to find new solutions for everything in existence, but when you create, create.  Do what is best for the solution in your eyes, even if it is different than everything else you see.

This is a small bit of how the whole afternoon lecture with Vesa went – it was great.

He also told a story about Evert Lundquist, a painter and etcher from Sweden.  One day a poor engineer friend of Evert’s discovered him sitting in the dark, alone, in his studio.  The poor engineer friend had come by to visit Evert, and was curious as to why he was sitting alone.  The friend asked Evert, “why are you sitting alone in the dark?”

Evert replied, “I am simply waiting for the light.”

Thank you for your wonderful lecture, Vesa.  Please visit Vesa’s website, Vesa Honkonen Architects – His work is riveting.