Last minute-y gifts under $50

For geeky girls with an edgy fashion sense:

Green Resistor Necklace and Earrings $39 are a subtle and sophisticated fashion accent that come packaged in an anti-static bag, and the Cat5 Choker and Bracelet set are an irreverent and bright accessory that elevates network cable as a beautiful statement. They also come in petri dishes–the choker in a large Kirby Bauer and the bracelet in a standard 90mm.

For music nerds and DJ types:

Electronic Music Emergency Adapters $30 gives every electronic musician and DJ a safety net for their performance by providing the common adapters needed for connecting computers and music gear into mixers and the house system.

Kids (and grown-up kids) who love science:

Yes, that’s a gigantic Cold Virus $8.50, a Brain Cell, $8.50 and a Robot $12.50 who looks surprised.

For gamers and retrologists (lovers of retro):

That’s a teeny Pac Man Arcade Game with candy inside $3.50, Mario Candy (well, just his grinning head) also $3.50, and one of our most popular guys, the Super Mario Bros. Mushrooms

Robot Ornaments and Circuit Board Heart Necklace

Robot Ornaments – $2.50 each

Feel like decking out your tree with cute, sparkley robots? Now’s your chance. Grab each of the four characters for your tree, or as cute stocking stuffers.

Circuit Board Heart Necklace – $95 – $123

The perfect gift for any geek girl on your list, the Circuit Board Heart Necklaces features a real circuit board encased in a sterling silver heart shape. There are two necklace options — either the black rubber with a sterling silver clasp, or a sterling silver Omega chain (for an additional charge).

The Tronz: Australian robot band

No, not the ‘tronz as in “internet,” we’re talking Tronz as in the robotic band. Much along the same lines as the Chicago-spawned Captured! By Robots (although decidedly more minimal in scope and vision), the band members are instrument-specific robots controlled by (presumably) MIDI–a kind of low-tech version of the animatronic Chuck E Cheese Rockafire Explosion (of which there used to be videos floating around of a guy who reprogrammed the critters to churn out pop songs. Seems either Chuck E Cheese or said music’s publishers didn’t see the humor).

Max/ MSP lets you Keepon Dancing


A friend of mine sent me a link to the WIRED-sponsored video of this adorable, Peeps®-like dancing robot that’s miles above and beyond that swaying guitar-playing flower you got as a birthday gift in the late 1990s. Needless to say, I was both instantly charmed and impressed with Keepon’s moves and spot-on sense of rhythm, and wondered a bit about the mechanics of its internal workings.Thankfully Create Digital Music has spared me the hours of Googling and served up photos of his interior as well as demystified his creator’s choice of software-hardware interaction: Max/ MSP. Cycling74’s paramount platform has not only been used to program the mind-warpingly complex beats of IDM, it allows for physical interaction, making not only Keepon possible, but projects as diverse as the Musical Soccer Ball and music responsive lightshows enabled by Jitter.PS: The track is “Don’t You Evah” by Spoon. 😉

[Thanks, Dan!]

Mandelbot: Your new paper robot friend

robot175.jpgHere’s a paper toy robot that I designed for Fractalspin.com, Mandelbot. Just download the PDF (email address required), print it out on cardstock or heavy paper, cut him out with an X-acto knife and then glue or tape him together.

He’s also featured on the back of a 5.5 x 8.5″ postcard featuring items from Fractalspin, although the gloss coating means you’d have to use super glue or a similar adhesive to get him to stick together (printer’s error *shrug*), and it will look nicer if you lightly score the fold lines before putting it together.
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Like robots? Here’s a blog you’ll love.

isobot.jpg

The creators of OhGizmo! (the niche, gadget / technology / weird things blog) have spun off a blog devoted entirely to robots. Not only is robotic technology ever-innovating, more and more people have come to develop a humanoid soft spot for our cybernetic friends (just do an Etsy search for Robot and look what pops up), so the OhGizmo! people definitely have their finger on the pulse.

It’s appropriately titled “BotJunkie,” and features the tagline:

BotJunkie obsessively chronicles Man’s inevitable descent into cybernetic slavery.

One robot at a time.

While it focuses mainly on small, consumer-oriented robots like the evil Hello Kitty Robot, I-Sobot (shown), and Spyke, there are some pop culture robot references, like “The top 50 movie robots”. No word yet on if they’ll cover military / industrial use robots, or go ga-ga over the adorable Pleo, but the blog is super new so it remains to be seen.

read more | digg story

Get yourself a musical robotic exoskeleton

Here’s an interesting art / performance project byMaywa Denki. Based on the simple remotely-triggered servo action of “knockers” (not in the sleezy sense)–which are direct percussive controllers that can be used to pound on various things including boxes, pipes, and guitar strings. In the above video, these knocker modules are employed to make a switch-based drum-machine-like instrument that you assign a sequence of remote knockers to, and then control the playback speed manually with a crank. It has the surreal effect of being a very nerdy guitar, with the thrashing accomplished via said crank.

Seeing as performative elements are key in this particular project, the “Wings” project shown about a bit past half way is more showy than useful, with the musician sporting spreading mechanical “wings” with knocker modules that hit hollow wooden balls that can be played via controllers on the fingers.

The video is particularly amusing in its Devo-esque tongue-in-cheek humor during the actual demonstrations, as well as the inclusion of vintage educational filmstrip dings to demarcate a new instrument being showcased. While having a direct, realtime controller of percussive sounds created remotely may be interesting for its novelty / humor value, so much more can be done in the field of musical interfaces that this sort of thing just begs to be improved upon. However, the vision and sheer performative nature of these instruments is inspiring to all who focus on creating innovative interfaces for music creation.