3D-Printed LEGO Limbs Help Child Amputees Adjust

Longtime readers of this blog know that we're quite fond of LEGOs and fascinated by the use of 3D printing in the field of medicine. So when news broke of these two elements being brought together, it was only a matter of time before we told you folks about it.

A Man with a Plan

Colombian-born designer Carlos Arturo Torres interned for six months at LEGO's Future Lab. Impressed by the company's dedication to social outreach, Torres convinced them to sponsor a trip back to his hometown of Bogotá, wherein he would observe amputees at Cirec, a rehabilitation center. After spending time in the center’s youth ward, Torres came up with an idea to make a medical attachment out of their favorite toys.

Double Trouble for Young Amputees

As Torres discovered, amputee children not only have to function with a missing limb, but also face a greater social stigma amongst their peers. "My friends in psychology used to tell me that when a kid has a disability, he is not really aware of it until he faces society," says Torres. "That's when they have a super rough encounter."

Introducing Personalized Prosthetics

Torres' design, named "Iko", is for amputees aged to 3-12, covering many of the most important developmental years in a child's life. The attachment allows the child to accessorize and customize the prosthetic as they see fit, helping to build the patient's self-esteem as well as providing functional movement.

After successfully testing the prototypes at Cirec, Torres hopes to have 15 more units ready by this December, with a full production line ready by mid-2017.

High Tech Art and Architecture

23. July 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Arts, Crafts & DIY Projects  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments

It’s been said that no man-made work of art will ever stand up to the wonders of nature. For all of humanity’s masterpieces of paint and brush, they pale in comparison to the average sunset or leaves blowing on the branch of a tree. But even if human beings can never match nature’s splendor, they can still use it to create stunning works of their own.

1 + 1 = Breathtaking

The world’s greatest minds agree that mathematics are the only true universal language and that all things, no matter how complex or diverse, can be broken down into a series of numbers. It should then come as no surprise that a new breed of artist has emerged using only numbers in their palette.

binary-Mona-Lisa-Bill-Cook.gif
(via Wired)

In a recent feature, Wired highlighted five such digital artists who use only mathematical algorithms to create their work. They included Andrea Hawksley, who forms geometric designs into clothing and food; Pat Ashforth, who creates optical illusions in fabrics; and Robert Bosch, whose algorithm recreated the Mona Lisa as a single-line binary maze. Just as the universe is comprised of numbers, it was inevitable that the Internet – a system created entirely from numbers – would eventually produce a new artistic medium.

Super Sand Castles

Although summer is starting to wind down, there’s still time to hit the beach. But if you had any thoughts about entering a sand castle competition, you’d better hope you aren’t going up against Calvin Seibert.

Seibert-sand-castle.png
(via mental_floss)

The son of a former ski champion, Seibert has been creating complex sand architecture all over the United States. The designs can take anywhere from eight to ten hours to build, but have drawn favorable comparisons to ancient Mayan architecture. Even though the pieces never stay up for long, they’ve won Seibert a loyal fanbase of intrigued beachgoers.

Pleasing to the Eye

Chris Downey always wanted to be an architect, and when he grew up he built a fine career in the field. But, in 2008, he was told he had a brain tumor. Although the tumor was successfully removed through surgery, it cost Downey his sight. It was assumed that his architectural career was over, but Downey had no intention of giving up his livelihood.

With the help of an inTACT Sketchpad, Downey was back at work within a month. He has since gone on to create several San Francisco buildings, including the Independent Living Resource Center and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He is one of a growing number of blind architects around the world. In Downey’s own words, "I’m always careful to say I’m without sight, not without vision."

Summer Fun Activities

It’s that time again. With three months off from school, the kids have no intention of just sitting around. But in addition to all of the swimming, sand, and summer barbecues, they might actually want to spend some time with their parents. Thankfully, there are quite a few home-based activities parents can do with their kids before back-to-school shopping takes place.

Tiny Terrarium

Kids and trees are a winning combination. To kids, trees are an obstacle to climb, shade from the sun, and even mythical beasts that must be slain. No matter what a tree means to them, it’s natural for a child to want one of their very own. Now they can make one.

Using a simple twig, a common glass jar, and some colorful construction paper, you and your little one can create a tiny tree that will never wilt or wither. It’ll last through the summer, the winter, and all year long.

Magic Mini-Tents

Summer and camping go together like fire and marshmallows. But if you aren’t able to get the kids into the woods this season, you can still have fun showing them how to pitch these tiny tents.

With just some stock paper and a few coloring markers, your kids will create tents the right size to fit their favorite toys.

Eyes on the Prize

The older children get, the more curious they become. They want to observe and interact with the world around them. Don’t let distance come between the wonders of nature and your child’s imagination; let them see it for themselves with these homemade binoculars.

PBS-Parents-DIY-binoculars.jpg
(via PBS Parents)

These binoculars are made from yarn, toilet paper rolls, and duct tape. They might not have any lenses, but they’ll teach even the smallest nature-lover the beauty of watching the world around them.

For more summertime craft ideas, visit PBS Parents.

Logo Redesign: A Risk Worth Taking

9. July 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Business News  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments

What is it about a particular logo that just sticks with us so well? Even when a company goes out of business, the logo can live on as a unique fashion statement. Perhaps it’s the fact that no matter what definitive thoughts one has of the business, the logo can be interpreted any number of ways.

With logos having the ability to outlive their products and companies, attempting to change one is a risky proposition. Here are a few big-name companies that recently took the risk.

A Coke and a Smile

There are few beverages considered to be as “quintessentially American” as Coca-Cola and few logos as recognizable as its iconic stripe. The logo was created in 1885 by advertiser Frank Mason Robinson and has remained relatively unchanged in the company’s 100-plus-year history. Variations are often limited to the title signature, relative to the primary language of the region where it’s sold. But the latest change removes the signature altogether.

Coke-can.jpg
(via Wired)

For the Islamic month of Ramadan, the company that been shipping limited edition cans featuring no signature; just the silver curve against the red background. The advertising company behind the new can says the altered design is part of a larger campaign attempting to fight prejudice and preconceived notions.

Although there are no plans to bring the new can westward, the reaction has generally been positive. Margaret Rhodes of Wired comments that “Kumbaya rhetoric aside, the new cans say a lot about today’s branding landscape, without saying anything at all. [..]Coca-Cola’s enduring look can go simpler without sacrificing design identity; that ribbon is enough to let us know what’s in store.”

Face to Face

In the tricky relationship between technology and personal interaction, few milestones have been as definitive as the rise of social media. And no other social media network has had the same impact as that of Facebook. Since its founding in 2004, the website has been the subject of countless think pieces, lawsuits, psychological analyses, and even one Academy Award-winning film. It’s turned its founders into billionaires overnight and connects its 1.44 billion users in an instant. Needless to say, when Facebook makes a change, quite a few people take notice.

Facebook-2015-logo.jpg
(via Facebook)

Facebook tweaks its design on a fairly regular basis, often to the consternation of long-term users. The logo has seen the fewest changes since the name was changed from “TheFacebook” in 2005. However, it was recently altered slightly as part of the company’s plan to further expand worldwide. Reaction to the change has been mixed. “It is, unfortunately, a bit plain,” says Rhodes. Although she acknowledges the “slickness” the company was attempting, “that slickness comes at the cost of personality—something corporations, especially ones designed around people, should value.”

Given the company’s history, this change isn’t likely to be the last. Only time will tell if this one is as easily accepted as those that came before.

Logic and Tech

For a company that never actually made computers, Logitech became one of the defining companies during the rise of the internet. It’s third-party accessories – most notably its mouse units – added a refreshing splash of color to the otherwise dull beige of out-of-the-box PC tools. They seem like the last company to try and change their logo, let alone their name; but they’ve done both.

Logi-logo.jpg
(via Wired)

The company has officially shortened their name to simply “Logi”. Furthermore, they’ve removed the red and green from the logo in favor of a streamlined monochromatic image. The redesign was the brainchild of the Logi’s new CEO, Bracken Darrell. He described the move as an attempt to brand the company as “a design company” rather than a technological one.

Each of the above has a secure stake in their respective market, so they could afford to take risks with brand recognition. Although the risks appear to be minimal, they do demonstrate just how much a change to a brand’s literal image could equally change their publicly perceived image.

Lots to Love about LEGOs!

2. July 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Arts, Crafts & DIY Projects  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments

It should come as no surprise that we’re LEGO fans. Who isn’t? Kids turn them into houses, adults turn them into sculptures, and they even inspired a hit film. LEGOs have been popular for more than 50 years with no signs of slowing down. And with the recent news that they will soon be fully sustainable, the time seemed right to once again take a look at some major LEGO development.

Another Brick in the WALL*E

It’s no surprise that LEGO has created special sets to tie in popular film and television properties. From Star Wars to Batman, every franchise that’s any franchise gets a LEGO set eventually. But there have been surprisingly few sets for Disney or Pixar Animation properties. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

LEGO-WALLE.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

This past February, LEGO announced they’d begun production on the titular character of the hit Disney/Pixar film WALL*E. The model is being designed by Angus MacLane, a Pixar animator who worked on the film. Although the model is expected to be pricey ($65) when it hits store shelves in December, it’s also expected to be one of LEGO’s bestsellers for 2015.

LEGO V8

One of the defining characteristics of LEGO is the amount of attention paid to the tiniest details. It isn’t always easy, especially since the typical brick is a solid rectangular block. But the company’s designers have always made it a point to adhere as close to the original designs as possible, even in ways you wouldn’t expect.

LEGO-Ferrari-F40.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

Ferrari is one of the most popular car companies in the world, so it’s no surprise that they would eventually have a LEGO incarnation. What wasn’t expected was how the set – based on the popular F40 model from 1987 – would have so much detail that it would also include a LEGO-style V8 engine as well. The set is expected to hit shelves in August with a $90 price tag. How many other chances will you have to say you own a Ferrari?

A Work of Art

As we’ve already mentioned, LEGOs appeal to people of all ages. This is most likely due to the fact that no matter what your age, you can make a design all your own. Well, now machines are trying to get in on the fun.

Jason Alleman’s specialty at JK Brickworks is to find new uses for 3-D printer technology. So it was only a matter of time before his unique line of work was combined with one of his favorite hobbies. Alleman created the Bricasso, a modified 3-D printer that creates mosaics out of LEGO pieces. Although the images created have to be heavily pixelated to conform to the bricks used, the Bricasso has created some incredibly detailed images for a machine that works with tiny blocks.

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There's a new development every day in #3Dprinting! A company just introduced a printable flexible plastic. http://t.co/btTbJQrSxn #tech

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