Category:
Technology

The Senster

Explanatory text from Are Computers Alive? Evolution and New Life Forms, by Geoff Simons (1983).

A cybernetic sculpture, 'The Senster', was constructed by Edward Ihnatowicz in 1970 for the Philips Evoluon in Eindhoven. The device is a large electrohydraulic structure in the form of a lobster's claw: six hinged joints allow great freedom of movement. It is interesting that the device's unpredictable behaviour makes the observer feel that the sculpture is alive. Reichardt (1978) commented: 'It is as if behaviour were more important than appearance in making us feel that something is alive.' 'The Senster' has senses—sound channels (effective ears) and radar—to allow it to monitor its environment: it will, for example, react to the movement of people in the immediate vicinity. Electrical signals are fed from a control unit to activate mechanisms which cause movement in the device. The brain (a computer) has learning abilities and can modify the machine's behaviour in the light of past experience. Confronted by this artificial device, it is clear that people have no difficulty in organizing their psychological responses as if 'The Senster' were alive—an animal or another human being.

Watch it in action below. The people desperately trying to get its attention clearly hadn't watched enough horror movies to know what usually happens next in situations with sentient machines.





More info: senster.com

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 25, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Technology, AI, Robots and Other Automatons, 1970s

Mystery Gadget 104

What's so special about this glass brick? What was its origin and use?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.





More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 23, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Technology

Mutalk Voice Suppression Microphone

A new product coming soon from Shiftall:

"mutalk" is a soundproof Bluetooth microphone that makes it difficult for others to hear your voice and at the same time, makes it difficult for ambient noise to enter the microphone.

You'd look ridiculous wearing one of these things. And unfortunately the people who need to wear them (those who carry on loud conversations on their phone in crowded, public places) would never do it.





It reminds me of the "Scream Muffler" (patented in 1989).

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 14, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Technology, Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

Follies of the Madmen #552

Please note the last cartoon in this ad (magnified below). Man attempts to kill mother-in-law by darkening the stairwell. Everything A-OK!

Source.



Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 09, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Domestic, Technology, Advertising, 1950s

Miss Formula

Miss Formula, who made her debut in 1964, was said to be "a computer's idea of how the perfect female should look." Though she was actually what the engineers at California Computer Products, Inc. thought the perfect female should look like. They designed her and the computer printed her out.

California Computer Products (CalComp) was eventually acquired by the Lockheed Corporation. I wonder if Miss Formula still resides somewhere in their computer systems.

Tampa Tribune - July 31, 1964



Pittsburgh Press - July 29, 1964



Pomona Progress-Bulletin - July 29, 1964

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 25, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Technology, Computers, 1960s

The house of 2020

Back in 1989, the BBC show 'Tomorrow's World' predicted what kind of technology people would have in their homes in 2020. They weren't that far off.

They got music on voice command right. But we don't yet have walls that turn into windows.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 20, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Hot Meal Vending Machines

In 1968 (perhaps even earlier), an inventor had the notion of serving hot meals from a vending machine.





Lo and behold, today his dream is a reality. Would you sample such fare?









Posted By: Paul - Mon Nov 07, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Food, Technology, 1960s, Asia

Alternative Flight Simulator

Gadget-maker Alex Shakespeare has built an "alternative flight simulator, from a passenger's perspective." This allows him to pretend he's flying on a plane, without actually being on one.

He needs to put a row of seats a few inches in front of him to create the full, no-legroom effect.

More info: Alex Shakespeare's website

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 02, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Technology, Air Travel and Airlines

EMAG-3

I did a science fair project in high school, but I put so little effort into it that I'm now embarrassed thinking back on it. The topic I chose was "The Electrolysis of Water." I basically just had some electrodes splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

David Ecklein, however, had an extraordinary high school science fair project. Back in 1959, he built a computer, which he named EMAG-3, that was capable of playing "an interesting and reasonable game" of checkers. It was made from 3200 vacuum tubes and three miles of wiring. It stood 15 feet tall.

On his website, he notes that he designed it to fit the science fair floor space requirements, knowing that the regulations had omitted to mention anything about how high a project could be. Height restrictions were introduced the following year.

More info: MIT Museum



Great Falls Tribune - Apr 17, 1959

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 13, 2022 - Comments (6)
Category: School, Technology, Computers, 1950s

Mystery Gadget 102

Automatic fingernail painter? What's your guess?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 15, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Technology, 1950s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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