Posts about Creativity

Gadgets

Gadgets: Synthesising the sound of bananas

29.03.2016

Assumedly, the main purpose of a banana (cucumber, zucchini, etc) is to be relished at some stage. Yet, young American inventors Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have contrived a new means of putting them to use: by eliciting from them authentic musical sounds, like for instance, those of a piano.

A dollop of wobbly jello does work as well and a great number of other materials also prove to be conductive: most fruits and vegetables, shrimp or pizza pie (although some may consider that a bit yucky). Plants will do fine and play-doh (given a certain degree of moisture) and metal objects such as foil, cutlery or pots. Even simple thick lines drawn on a smooth surface with a soft graphite pencil can do the trick – so can live people. What in God’s name are we talking about? A kit called MaKey MaKey.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes
Robots working at a hotel reception in Nagasaki.

Robotic hospitality prevails at Nagasaki hotel

10.03.2016

Strange ways indeed
From a distance, front-desk receptionist Yumeko could be mistaken for a good-looking young lady of genuine flesh and blood, whereas colleagues positioned at the counter to either of her sides won’t fool anyone. They are instantly recognisable as what they are: a not-so-handsome-yet-still-quite-cute greenish descendent of the Jurassic age with a serious overbite and a manikin-like mechanical device held in colours white and blue: little Nao. It is obvious, that dinosaur Mirai cannot be real – but neither is Yumeko nor are most of the staff weasling about the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki: Instead, they are intelligent robots able to converse with their customers in a sensible and friendly manner while checking them in and out. The diligent machines are always ready to please, never in a filthy mood and obedient servants programmed to satisfy their guests’ special needs.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Exterior of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Copyright: Thies Raetzke

Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie: What’s another year, Elphi?

2.03.2016

Haste makes waste. The very first proposal came as early as in 2001. For a while it seemed as though the bride would transmute into a spinster by the time she could be given away – although her prerequisites had been privileged from the beginning. Something old: her massive warehouse brick base stemming from cocoa-traders’ times. Something new: her extravagant self! Something borrowed: generous funds. And something blue: the surrounding waters of Hamburg’s Harbour City (with a bit of cheating on the colour side). Maddeningly slow progress had been made over the years, much controversy stirred, and her engagement phase could well be tagged „Roman“ (definitely more than a day). But now, eventually, the historic day lies within reach and both, family and in-laws, are over the moon.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Humour: Tricky translation engines

Sense of humour required: Beware of translation engines!

21.02.2016

When looking for the easy way out, people come up with the most ludicrous of excuses to warrant their hornswoggle doing: house on fire, dog dead, car stolen, wrong place/time/mood, worst bad-hair day ever, princess all of a sudden. Once the procrastination pole has inevitably run out of length, the dreaded task just has to be tackled, no matter what. Translations, for instance, can develop into a painfully tedious exercise. Isn’t it perfectly legitimate then to employ one of those servile robots available online in order to alleviate detested assignments? It is – if you can live with the results. We have put some of these practical computerised interpreters to the test, feeding them with stretches of German articles published during the early stages of goodmeetings.com’s young history. The English-speaking majority of our readership will have to think in meanders to unravel and realign the contorted texts back to meaning. Even though some of the pidgin might remain a secret forever: as long as no-one has been harmed, reading complete nonsense once in a while can be a great pastime.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Halfpipe and bikers: Sounds of the city captured virtually everywhere.

City tourism: Sound-hearing soon enhancing Sight-seeing?

15.12.2015

What are the sounds usually associated with a city? The irritating ones issued from cars hooting, tyres screeching, trams rumbling, from air-conditioning units humming relentlessly? From ambulances swishing by with sirens amplified by the Doppler effect that hurts our eardrums and sets our minds on alert? When embarking on a trip to a busy metropolis, an undistinguishable concoction of man-made noise will have to be tolerated as an inevitable part of the package. Positive connotations are asking for more pleasant experiences, though.

Conquering an urban jungle by mapping it out via the typical sounds it exudes, is an idea temporarily put into practice in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam during an “ambient marketing” campaign: from interactive audio billboards, the “Sounds of the City” could be tapped by means of a personal headphone plugged into jacks directly embedded in the “neighbourhoods” of choice.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes