Sugru Silicon Modelling Putty

Sugru Modelling Putty

I always like to have some epoxy putty on hand. It’s easy to use, hardens quickly and can be machined easily. It’s an awesome thing to have on hand. Unfortunately, it only comes in one color (gray) and you have to mix it by kneading two parts together. Unless you’re wearing rubber gloves this will leave a stinky residue on your hands which can get all over other parts if you are not careful.

Now it seems there is another option:

Sugru is a new product that is the lovechild of Play-Doh and epoxy putty. It is supposed to air-set and be dishwasher safe. Who & where it comes from is best taken from their website:

This is Jane. She’s from Ireland and she’s lovely. Jane was studying product design at when she had an idea: “I don’t want to buy new stuff all the time. I want to hack the stuff I already have so it works better for me.” So she phoned some clever materials scientists called Ian and Steve and together they invented an interesting new material for hacking things better. It’s called sugru and is a little bit brilliant.

If this stuff is as good as they say it is it could be a game changer (I wondered if it might be useful in aid packages to poor countries – how great to be able to fix your broken water bucket and not have to buy a new one!)

I haven’t tried it yet but I will let you know once I get my hands on some.

via wired

Bokode – the next Barcode?

There are just a few technologies for tracking object-tagged items: Barcode and RFID are at the top of the list. Each has its strengths & weaknesses but the biggest problem is that they can only be scanned at close range. (Note that some long-distance RFID solutions exist such as those used for car toll systems like EZ-Pass but these are expensive and require large, self-powered tags)

Some new work coming out of MIT’s Media Lab may change this. Called Bokode, the system uses the Bokeh optical effect which maps how rays entering an out-of-focus camera lens will converge onto the camera’s sensor.

To see the details, you’ll have to watch the attached video, but in essense the “tag” consists of an LED with an encoded optical pattern and a small cheap lens. An out-of-focus camera will see the data on the tag’s pattern, whether it is a digital code, an image, text or whatever. What’s more, the camera can also determine the angle of the object by doing some tricky optical calculations (which I don’t understand yet).

The tech is still in the development stage, but there is a development WIKI to exchange information among those interested in working more with it. Give it a read – looks like really fun stuff!

National Semiconductor’s Dimmable LED driver

National Semiconductor has just released a new integrated circuit, the LM3445, that will be a game changer in the world of LED Lighting. From what I’ve seen one of the tougher challenges for LED integration into standard interior lighting has been dimming. LEDs need very strict power to be maintained and are finicky on how dimming works for them. Pulse Width Modulation seems to be the best way to dim them, but how to control a PWM module from a standard wall dimmer? With only 2 wires running to the light fixture, you’d have to modulate the dimming signals into the AC (like a X10 system) and that gets complicated. National’s new IC helps solve this problem. With some additional circuitry, the voltage from a standard Triac dimmer can be used to control LED dimming without flicker. No additional power supply, only 2 wires powering everything. Only bummer is that the chip can only source for seven 1-Watt LEDs but hopefully that will get solved soon. Hope to see these on some cascadable LED light strips soon. Check out this demonstration done by Arrow Electronics.