A Word Shaped Like Bones

Description: The story begins with a scene of a dead man in a spaceship and all about Maureen’s interactions with him in the rest part. In the last few years, she just sculptures  on this small spaceship in 23rd century when commercialism is out of fashion (how good is that). She assumes the body is a man even if his origin is hard to tell. Their relationship goes interesting at a point that her sculpture is beginning to shape like the dead man. Speaking of Hippocrenes, the interesting planet Maureen’s heading to, people there do not speak in sound and they wrap their tongues together when they wish to communicate.  When the man start to decay and bones are left, she started to feel a great affection for the dead man. Maureen can barely remember a time when she did not love his bones. But it turns out that the man was once someone that she loved very much – her husband…

My POV: From the story, I could feel how an artist’s works are shaped by her/his personal emotions and experience. To be honest, I can figure out a little bit she would fall in love with the bones since I read the first scene of story. Long term interactions with an object in an enclosed space may also leads to affections sometimes. However it’s not a typical science fiction in my mind. It just uses sci-fi as a media to tell a love story. Balancing between rational science and human emotions in a sci-fi story is cirtical.


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Physically-Suggestive Media

Self-Actuating Bridge


This project was inspired by a concept of automated matter which has taken form in many sci-fi films (X-Men, Watchmen, Matrix), and recently at the Media Lab. The idea is a hidden bridge that appears or materializes only when needed, enabling the user to confidently drive off a cliff or into the water, to be met by rising supports just in time. Ultimately the bridge supports shoudl support a car when present, and otherwise go away / retract / disentigrate.

X2: X-Men United - Magneto Escape

X-Men – Magneto Escape

Light Bridge from Halo

Light Bridge from Halo

Secret Garage Platform

Secret Garage Platform






InForm Actuated Tabletop

InForm – Actuated Tabletop

Preliminary Sketches

W1 01

Pneumatic Drawbridge 1.1


FE 01

Light – Photoresistor
Photoresistors are light-dependent resistor (LDR), also referred to as a “photocell”. Resistance across them decreases with exposure to light. Wired from an analog read pin to ground.Read from an analog read pin.

+ Easy to detect – The kind of light detected is the same wavelength we perceive naturally. Being able to easily see the input signal makes debugging significantly easier.
+ No additional hardware – In most demonstration conditions, light – in the form of daylight, synthetic fluorescents, LED, and halogens – is present

+ Inconsistent – Visible light levels vary A LOT between spaces. This makes for a bad output for a linear actuator.
+ Reacts to ambient light – In the context of a full-scale implementation, a photocell input would result in the bridge delaying for clouds, or any other opaque object that could move over the bridge path.
+ Reaction not limited to the car – Part of the appeal of a bridge that materializes out of nowhere is the fact that it only works under certain conditions, or for certain people.


FE 02Magnetic Field – Hall Effect
Hall effect vary the voltage drop from a power source according to the surrounding magnetic field- including the Earth’s resting magnetic force. THis allows it to sense up, down, and the presence of other electro-magnetic fields.

+ Reaction is limited to the presence of a magnet
+ Magnetic field detection would serve as a basic identifying factor that would enable only individuals cognizant of the requirements of the bridge to activate it, and do so discreetly

+ Magnets + electronics = ?x??1?$?
Other unknown side effects

Video Demo (clickthrough)How to Make - Final Project Development - Magnetic field detection


Pneumatic Actuation
Air powered movements. Using one air compressors, gates are turned on and off to inrease/decrease pressure in tubes and chambers to create movement.

+ Air is pretty friendly
+ Compatible with water
+ System could scale relatively well

+ Requires a large air compressor
+ Requires weights for submersion
+ Air compressor makes noise
+ Actuation makes loud pops with each pressure release
+ Lots of hosing requires
+ No small form factors for cool models
+ $$$

Hydrolic Actuation
Basically the same as pneumatic, but using liquids instead of air.

+ Pressure isn’t an issue.
+ Scales well
+ Very compatible with submersion

+ Requires bulky/large reinforced/structural material
+ $$$$
Magnetic Actuation
Magnetic field detection would serve as a basic identifying factor that would enable only individuals cognizant of the requirements of the bridge to activate it, and do so discreetly.

+ Reaction is limited to the presence of a magnet
+ Very little background noise
+ $

+ Magnets + electronics = ?x??1?$?
+ Side effects

Stepper Motor

Stepper Motor



Stepper Motor / Lead Screw Actuation
Oringally I didn’t find stepper motors appealing, but then I discovered these steppers with lead screws that act as linear actuators. These are used for many 3-axis machines and other various uses. They are also used in CD/DVD drives to move both the CD chassis, and the laser scanner. Because CD/DVD drives are now essentially obsolete, China and Russia end up buying lots of them as e-waste, recycle them for parts, and then sell them for SUPER cheap. So these stepper motors are plentiful, and cheap.

+ 1.7″ actuation distance + Lots of torque
+ Tiny
+ Cheap. Between $1-2

+ No datasheet
+ Tricky to wire to
+ Does not come with a slider


FSM0815-KD95 Specifications
+ Bipolar (2-phase) stepper motor
+ DC 5V
+ 1000RPM = 16.7 revs/s = 3.35cm/s actuation speed
+ 22 degree step angle
+ 16 pulse (pulses required to make one ful revolution)
+ Dimensions: 6×7.5×13.5mm / 0.24″ x 0.29″ x 0.53″ (L*W*H)
+ Screw Diameter : 2.5mm / 0.1″ Download My Model
+ Screw Length : 43mm / 1.7″
+ Weight: 33g

Stepper Sliders

FS 01

FS 03

FS 04

FS 05


Electrical Design

I decided to make the array out of discreet baords with no communication, mostly for the sake of keeping things simple. Eventually I would like to make a version with centralized controlled, as this would allow me to create more wholistic movments and animations with the pylons.

My board design was based off of the hello.world.steppermotor example found on this page. I added a jumper to the board for a remote sensor daughter board, and moved te power jumper around to accomodate a series of baord being powered in series by one cable.
FC 01FC 02

Autorouting in Eagle never gets old. Eventually I settled on this configuration.

FC 03FC 05

Circuits (Bulk Print)

Circuits (Bulk Print)

Exterior Cuts (Bulk Print)

Exterior Cuts (Bulk Print)

I also designed chips for a power jack, and the remote sensor for each primary board.

FC 12

Power Jack


Power Jack Circuits

Exterior Cut

Exterior Cut

FC 15

Sensor Board

Sensor Circuits

Sensor Circuits

Exterior Cut

Exterior Cut


FH 01 FH 02 FH 03


FF 01 FF 02 FF 03 FF 04 FF 05

How to become batman!

Final PPT.024

We worked on the wearable architecture and figured out a folding structure. But how to decide the form and function of the product was a puzzle. Then we got inspired by batman’s belt. I realize that the most exciting part of the wearable & portable product is how simple and small it is before the transformation, and how complex and multifunctional after the transformation. So we decided to build an extendable belt for the extreme environment, such as exploring Mars and wilderness survival.


2 1 5 4

This belt provides a basic workstation for many uses. And by adding more and different folding units, the belt would have more different functions.

Photo Nov 23, 2 19 00 PM132123123312


For the next step, we were looking forward to the possibilities of a small shelter. More and bigger units will be tested. Also, we will make a choice within the mechanical trigger, chemical trigger, and inflatable trigger.

Check this movie out from 6:00, you will see batman’s awesome cloak.


Final PPT.020Final PPT.021

Final PPT.022

Final PPT.023

This is just a beginning of the technology that transformation between folded, extended, soft and stiff.

Final PPT.025

By the way, recently I heard batman will have a fight with superman. But I want to say, the future belongs to batman!

Ghost Planets – Viewing Beyond Time

When fiction takes you to a place that is unique, when the experience is so unique that it’s almost as high resolution as the first experience of something in the real world, it has an odd effect. It is almost like waking up from a dream where the experience seems so bizarre in the context of reality that the thought stays with you for much longer. The beginning of “Diaspora” by Greg Egan had this effect on me. It is perhaps the abstract yet dense, delirious yet explicit nature of the first chapter “Orphanogenesis” that had such an impact on me. The chapter describes the emerging of a consciousness (not yet self-conscious) from a technology designed to birth the ancestors of “fleshers”; humans from the distant past that had uploaded their DNA into the system to promulgate a new species, untethered in space.

This last bit is the part that inspired me the most. The beings were described moving about across broad regions of outer space, in one instances, running over to see an asteroid being mined by some fleshers, commenting, almost humorously, at least pityingly, about how one wrong move could destroy them all. The book goes on to describe their ability to anticipate events, calculate them forward in space, and in effect. This ability to move, seemingly without respect to physics, lead me to think at length about what life and perception would be like for these creatures, what these abilities allowed them that ours do not, and what steps we could take toward seeing the cosmos in a greater breadth and richness.

Radial Velocity Calculations

Using a formula from the MIT Astrophysics department, I was able to create a visualization that imagined the ability to see over great time spans, pattern in space. Radial Velocity measures the speed with which an object rotates around a point. Observing this change allows astronomers to hunt for planets, as the gravitational pull on a star as planets orbit around it causes it to “wobble” back and forth, but of course over great periods of time. This calculation can be quite complex, as it needs to take into account the motion of the observer, but the ultimate wobble can be ascertained and encoded in a formula. The formula used here was for our own star, the Sun, as would be viewed from alien planet-hunters. The input for each data point the formula generates is a point in time. As such, it can be fed incrementing time values and a picture can emerge about what this wobble looks like over time.

sound waves

The visualization I created does just this. It maps out, over 1000 years, the location along an axis of the wobble of our own star. Ghost Planets shows the sun as it could be seen by a being able to look at time as easily as we look at a wave form of an audio recording. The sun in the visualization traverses from left to right around the central point shifting down slightly for every rotation, so that the viewer sees the pattern of orbit dramatically scaled, revealing patterns of oscillation, and the secret life of a star.


What I imagine is taking this technology of viewing celestial objects further and embedding it in an exploratory visualization tool, allowing the user to quickly see, for a known planetary system, what the profile across time is for each unit, and potentially mining this data for patterns, allowing the explorer to quickly at a glance dive much deeper not only into an object’s current state frozen in time, but as it has been across time.