Author Archive

Fruit Juice Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa

January 6, 2010

Fruit Juice Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa

Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa has created a series of creative fruit juice packages that have the look and feel of the fruit they contain.

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 2

“I imagined that if the surface of the package imitated the colour and texture of the fruit skin, then the object would reproduce the feeling of the real skin.”

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 3

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 4

Alongside banana, strawberry and kiwi fruit  “juice skins” Naoto Fukasawa also offers a wild card “silken tofu skin” for a carton of soya milk. [via 1, 2]

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 5

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 6

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 7

Juice Skin Packaging by Naoto Fukasawa 8

via Toxel March 29th, 2009 | Inspiration |

MeatCards: Print Your Business Cards On Beef Jerky With A Frickin’ Laser Beam

January 6, 2010

I’ve made no secret about my disdain for business cards. In an age where we can swap photographs and movies in a matter of seconds wirelessly, why are we still fumbling with clumsy pieces of paper that are both easy to lose and environmentally unfriendly? Today, it looks like I might be eating my words (or, as the case may be, yours).

Enter MeatCards. Two weeks ago a number of blogs caught wind of this bizarre and potentially amazing creation, bringing meat and lasers together to create the most protein-rich business cards ever. Some thought it was a hoax. But it’s very real.

I reached out to the guys behind MeatCards, and as luck would have it they were preparing for their first run of prototype cards (styled after the design from American Psycho, of course). So I sent in my information, and they printed out the prototype seen above. In the interest of preserving a shred of privacy, I’m blurred out a few digits from my phone number, Email, and our mailing address. But most of the text, like my name and the TechCrunch information in the upper right hand corner, hasn’t been touched. Obviously the laser etching isn’t quite perfect, but it mostly gets the job done. More samples below.

I haven’t receieved my MeatCards yet, and thus have been unable to taste the goods for myself. But I have been assured that they should in theory be edible, albeit with a strange laser-burnt aftertaste. That said, the guys behind MeatCards seem to be interested in finding a way to mark the cards with “Do Not Eat” to make it clear that they don’t want you to eat them – it just opens them up to too many possible legal problems and regulations. But they can’t stop you from doing it.

So when can you order one for yourself? The product is still in the testing stages, but according to its homepage they should be going on sale some time soon. Make sure to check out this awesome Flickr set to see how it’s done.

And for a more conventional business card, check out the cards Google is currently giving away.

by Jason Kincaid on May 6, 2009

Via techcrunch

scoreLight turns shapes into sound

January 6, 2010

scoreLight turns shapes into sound 08 Dec 2009 “scoreLight” is a laser-based musical device that generates real-time sound based on the shape of drawings or objects. + scoreLight (ver.1)

Relying on 3D tracking technology developed at the Ishikawa-Komuro Laboratory in 2003, scoreLight uses lasers to trace the outline of a drawing or object. As the laser dances along the contours, scoreLight produces and modulates sound according to the curvature, angle, texture, color, and contrast. An abrupt change in the direction of a line generates a discrete sound (a glitch or percussion sound), resulting in a steady rhythm when the laser follows a looped path (the size and shape of the looped path determines the tempo and structure of the beat). The device creates a layered tapestry of sound when multiple laser points explore different parts of a drawing.

Here is some video of scoreLight making music from a sketch of a brain:

+ NOU-ISE scoreLight’s developers include Alvaro Cassinelli (concept, hardware and software), Kuribara Yusaku (software), Daito Manabe (sound concept and programming) and Alexis Zerroug (electronics). See Cassinelli’s YouTube channel for more videos.

Via pinktentacle

[Link: scoreLight]

How Touching Works

December 25, 2009

Introduction to How Touching Works

After a long day at work, you walk in the door and slip off those toe-pinching, heel-blistering shoes. You quickly give yourself a therapeutic rub down and then slip into some warm, fuzzy socks. You give your dog a quick pat, grab a soft pillow and finally flop down on the couch. About the time you get into a comfortable position, you realize you set your drink a bit too far away on the table. This isn’t a problem, though. While you focus your attention on the TV screen, you reach over and feel around for your hot cup of tea. Once your hand hits the warm ceramic mug, you realize you’re home.

Not more than 15 minutes has passed since you walked through the door, but your sense of touch has gathered millions of bits of information from your surroundings. The pain from your pair of shoes is gone, and soft, fluffy comfort has taken over. A cold, wet kiss from your dog has given way to the warm comfort of the couch and a cup of hot tea. From temperature to texture, your sense of touch has been in constant communication with your brain.

Your somatic sensory system is responsible for your sense of touch . The somatic sensory system has nerve receptors that help you feel when something comes into contact with your skin, such as when a person brushes up against you. These sensory receptors are generally known as touch receptors or pressure receptors. You also have nerve receptors that feel pain and temperature changes such as hot and cold .

If you want to learn more about this complex system, read on to find out how your sense of touch works from head to toe and back again.

Physiology of Touching

You probably think of the sense of touch as relating to your skin. After all, you have about 5 million sensory nerve receptors in your skin. But you also can feel pain and pressure inside your body. Think about stomachaches and headaches. Most of your sense of touch, though, comes from external stimulus by way of your skin.

So how does a quick journey from the touch receptors in your skin to your brain happen? When the touch, pain or heat sensors in your skin are stimulated, they send electrical pulses to your neurons, special cells that relay electrochemical impulses . The sensory neurons then act as a relay team, passing along the electrical pulse from neuron to neuron until it reaches your spinal cord. Your spinal cord takes the incoming signal and sends it to your brain. Once the brain receives the signal from the spinal cord, it translates the electrical signal .

If your pain receptors have sent a message saying that a pair of tight-fitting shoes has gotten too uncomfortable, the brain knows your body is feeling pain. Your brain signals the muscles in your foot to curl up your pinkie toe away from the pain until you take your shoes off. If you’ve touched something very cold, your brain knows the cold receptors have been activated; you’ll probably shiver in response. Likewise, if you are feeling pressure when you hug an old friend, your brain will sense the pressure of the hug around your shoulders or body.

Your brain can combine messages from your sensory receptors. For instance, when you wrap a heated cotton towel around your body after stepping out of the sauna, you’re using both your pressure and temperature receptors. However, how you feel about that action is because of the psychology behind your sense of touch. Read on to find out how your brain might perceive incoming touch in different ways.

Psychology of Touching

You probably already know a hug from a loved one can lower your blood pressure and make you feel valued and important. A firm handshake with a friend can create a connection. How you perceive the hug or handshake, along with how your touch receptors receive the pressure, is rooted in your brain.

There are several basic kinds of touch that you may experience:

  • Intimate — Here, your pressure receptors respond to a handshake, hug or kiss. If the person giving the touch is someone you care about, you’ll probably feel warm and comforted. Your pressure sensors send the feeling of how hard the embrace is, and your brain interprets the nature of the touch as soothing .
  • Healing or therapeutic — This type of touch is often associated with massage or acupuncture. Sometimes, the pressure is gentle and meant to soothe sore muscles. Other times, the pressure is deep in order to work out knots. Despite differences in severity of pressure, you likely to be aware that the outcome is healing, so your body allows you to relax.
  • Exploratory or inquisitive — We all learn about the world through our sense of touch. Many people test out foods, fabrics or other objects by feeling different textures. Sometimes it’s possible to rely solely on the sense of touch. This is why it’s easy for you to reach into your bag and find a pair of keys without looking. You know the cold feeling of the metal key and hard smooth feel of your plastic key chain.
  • Aggressive or painful — Of course, we all know that touch can also equate to pain if the pressure is too much and the intent is wrong. A handshake that’s too firm can be uncomfortable instead of reassuring.

Cicero, Shannon.  “How Touching Works.”  20 August 2009.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/anatomy/touching.htm&gt;  25 December 2009.

Senses

December 19, 2009

Senses are the physiological methods of perception. The senses and their operation, classification, and theory are overlapping topics studied by a variety of fields, most notably neuroscience, cognitive psychology (or cognitive science), and philosophy of perception. The nervous system has a specific sensory system, or organ, dedicated to each sense.

Definition

There is no firm agreement among neurologists as to the number of senses because of differing definitions of what constitutes a sense. One definition states that an exteroceptive sense is a faculty by which outside stimuli are perceived.[1] The traditional five senses are sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste: a classification attributed to Aristotle.[2] Humans are considered to have at least five additional senses that include: nociception (pain), equilibrioception (balance), proprioception & kinaesthesia (joint motion and acceleration), sense of time, thermoception (temperature differences), with possibly an additional weak magnetoception (direction)[3], and six more if interoceptive senses (see other internal senses below) are also considered.

One commonly recognized categorisation for human senses is as follows: chemoreception; photoreception; mechanoreception; and thermoception. This categorisation has been criticized as too restrictive, however, as it does not include categories for accepted senses such as the sense of time and sense of pain.

Different senses also exist in other animals, for example electroreception.

A broadly acceptable definition of a sense would be “A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that responds to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.” Disputes about the number of senses typically arise around the classification of the various cell types and their mapping to regions of the brain.

Sight

Sight or vision is the ability of the brain and eye to detect electromagnetic waves within the visible range (light) which is why people see interpreting the image as “sight.” There is disagreement as to whether this constitutes one, two or three senses. Neuroanatomists generally regard it as two senses, given that different receptors are responsible for the perception of colour (the frequency of photons of light) and brightness (amplitude/intensity – number of photons of light). Some argue[citation needed] that stereopsis, the perception of depth, also constitutes a sense, but it is generally regarded as a cognitive (that is, post-sensory) function of brain to interpret sensory input and to derive new information. The inability to see is called blindness.

Hearing

Hearing or audition is the sense of sound perception. Since sound is vibrations propagating through a medium such as air, the detection of these vibrations, that is the sense of the hearing, is a mechanical sense because these vibrations are mechanically conducted from the eardrum through a series of tiny bones to hair-like fibers in the inner ear which detect mechanical motion of the fibers within a range of about 20 to 20,000 Hertz,[4] with substantial variation between individuals. Hearing at high frequencies declines with age. Sound can also be detected as vibrations conducted through the body by tactition. Lower frequencies than that can be heard are detected this way. The inability to hear is called deafness.

Taste

Taste or gustation is one of the two main “chemical” senses. There are at least four types of tastes[5] that “buds” (receptors) on the tongue detect, and hence there are anatomists who argue[citation needed] that these constitute five or more different senses, given that each receptor conveys information to a slightly different region of the brain[citation needed]. The inability to taste is called ageusia.

The four well-known receptors detect sweet, salt, sour, and bitter, although the receptors for sweet and bitter have not been conclusively identified. A fifth receptor, for a sensation called umami, was first theorised in 1908 and its existence confirmed in 2000[6]. The umami receptor detects the amino acid glutamate, a flavour commonly found in meat and in artificial flavourings such as monosodium glutamate.

Note: that taste is not the same as flavour; flavour includes the smell of a food as well as its taste.

Smell

Smell or olfaction is the other “chemical” sense. Unlike taste, there are hundreds of olfactory receptors, each binding to a particular molecular feature. Odor molecules possess a variety of features and thus excite specific receptors more or less strongly. This combination of excitatory signals from different receptors makes up what we perceive as the molecule’s smell. In the brain, olfaction is processed by the olfactory system. Olfactory receptor neurons in the nose differ from most other neurons in that they die and regenerate on a regular basis. The inability to smell is called anosmia. Some neurons in the nose are specialized to detect pheromones.

Touch

Touch, also called tactition or mechanoreception, is a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors, generally in the skin including hair follicles, but also in the tongue, throat, and mucosa. A variety of pressure receptors respond to variations in pressure (firm, brushing, sustained, etc). The touch sense of itching caused by insect bites or allergies involves special itch-specific neurons in the skin and spinal cord.[7] The loss or impairment of the ability to feel anything touched is called tactile anesthesia. Paresthesia is a sensation of tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin that may result from nerve damage and may be permanent or temporary.

Balance and acceleration

Balance, equilibrioception, or vestibular sense is the sense which allows an organism to sense body movement, direction, and acceleration, and to attain and maintain postural equilibrium and balance. The organ of equilibrioception is the vestibular labyrinthine system found in both of the inner ears. Technically this organ is responsible for two senses of angular momentum and linear acceleration (which also senses gravity), but they are known together as equilibrioception.

The vestibular nerve conducts information from the three semicircular canals corresponding to the three spatial planes, the utricle, and the saccule. The ampulla, or base, portion of the three semicircular canals each contain a structure called a crista. These bend in response to angular momentum or spinning. The saccule and utricle, also called the “otolith organs”, sense linear acceleration and thus gravity. Otoliths are small crystals of calcium carbonate that provide the inertia needed to detect changes in acceleration or gravity.

Temperature

Thermoception is the sense of heat and the absence of heat (cold) by the skin and including internal skin passages, or rather, the heat flux (the rate of heat flow) in these areas. There are specialized receptors for cold (declining temperature) and to heat. The cold receptors play an important part in the dogs sense of smell, telling wind direction, the heat receptors are sensitive to infrared radiation and can occur in specialized organs for instance in pit vipers. The thermoceptors in the skin are quite different from the homeostatic thermoceptors in the brain (hypothalamus) which provide feedback on internal body temperature.

Kinesthetic sense

Proprioception, the kinesthetic sense, provides the parietal cortex of the brain with information on the relative positions of the parts of the body. Neurologists test this sense by telling patients to close their eyes and touch the tip of a finger to their nose. Assuming proper proprioceptive function, at no time will the person lose awareness of where the hand actually is, even though it is not being detected by any of the other senses. Proprioception and touch are related in subtle ways, and their impairment results in surprising and deep deficits in perception and action. [8]

Pain

Nociception (physiological pain) signals near-damage or damage to tissue. The three types of pain receptors are cutaneous (skin), somatic (joints and bones) and visceral (body organs). It was previously believed that pain was simply the overloading of pressure receptors, but research in the first half of the 20th century indicated that pain is a distinct phenomenon that intertwines with all of the other senses, including touch. Pain was once considered an entirely subjective experience, but recent studies show that pain is registered in the anterior cingulate gyrus of the brain.[9]

Other internal senses

An internal sense or interoception is “any sense that is normally stimulated from within the body”.[10] These involve numerous sensory receptors in internal organs, such as stretch receptors that are neurologically linked to the brain.

  • Pulmonary stretch receptors are found in the lungs and control the respiratory rate.
  • Cutaneous receptors in the skin not only respond to touch, pressure, and temperature, but also respond to vasodilation in the skin such as blushing.
  • Stretch receptors in the gastrointestinal tract sense gas distension that may result in colic pain.
  • Stimulation of sensory receptors in the esophagus result in sensations felt in the throat when swallowing, vomiting, or during acid reflux.
  • Sensory receptors in pharynx mucosa, similar to touch receptors in the skin, sense foreign objects such as food that may result in a gag reflex and corresponding gagging sensation.
  • Stimulation of sensory receptors in the urinary bladder and rectum may result in sensations of fullness.
  • Stimulation of stretch sensors that sense dilation of various blood vessels may result in pain, for example headache caused by vasodilation of brain arteries.

Non-human senses

Analogous to human senses

Other living organisms have receptors to sense the world around them, including many of the senses listed above for humans. However, the mechanisms and capabilities vary widely.

Echolocation

Certain animals, including bats and cetaceans, have the ability to determine orientation to other objects through interpretation of reflected sound (like sonar). They most often use this to navigate through poor lighting conditions or to identify and track prey. There is currently an uncertainty whether this is simply an extremely developed post-sensory interpretation of auditory perceptions or it actually constitutes a separate sense. Resolution of the issue will require brain scans of animals while they actually perform echolocation, a task that has proven difficult in practice. Blind people report they are able to navigate by interpreting reflected sounds (esp. their own footsteps), a phenomenon which is known as human echolocation.

Smell

Among non-human species, dogs have a much keener sense of smell than humans, although the mechanism is similar. Insects have olfactory receptors on their antennae.

Vision

Cats have the ability to see in low light due to muscles surrounding their irises to contract and expand pupils as well as the tapetum lucidum, a reflective membrane that optimizes the image. Pitvipers, pythons and some boas have organs that allow them to detect infrared light, such that these snakes are able to sense the body heat of their prey. The common vampire bat may also have an infrared sensor on its nose.[11] It has been found that birds and some other animals are tetrachromats and have the ability to see in the ultraviolet down to 300 nanometers. Bees and dragonflies[12] are also able to see in the ultraviolet.

Balance

Ctenophora have a balance receptor (a statocyst) that works very differently from the mammalian’s semi-circular canals.

Not analogous to human senses

In addition, some animals have senses that humans do not, including the following:

  • Electroception (or electroreception) is the ability to detect electric fields. Several species of fish, sharks and rays have the capacity to sense changes in electric fields in their immediate vicinity. Some fish passively sense changing nearby electric fields; some generate their own weak electric fields, and sense the pattern of field potentials over their body surface; and some use these electric field generating and sensing capacities for social communication. The mechanisms by which electroceptive fish construct a spatial representation from very small differences in field potentials involve comparisons of spike latencies from different parts of the fish’s body.
The only order of mammals that is known to demonstrate electroception is the monotreme order. Among these mammals, the platypus[13] has the most acute sense of electroception.
Body modification enthusiasts have experimented with magnetic implants to attempt to replicate this sense,[14] however in general humans (and probably other mammals) can detect electric fields only indirectly by detecting the effect they have on hairs. An electrically charged balloon, for instance, will exert a force on human arm hairs, which can be felt through tactition and identified as coming from a static charge (and not from wind or the like). This is however not electroception as it is a post-sensory cognitive action.
  • Magnetoception (or magnetoreception) is the ability to detect fluctuations in magnetic fields and is most commonly observed in birds, though it has also been observed in insects such as bees. Although there is no dispute that this sense exists in many avians (it is essential to the navigational abilities of migratory birds), it is not a well-understood phenomenon.[15] One study has found that cattle make use of magnetoception, as they tend to align themselves in a north-south direction.[16] Magnetotactic bacteria build miniature magnets inside themselves and use them to determine their orientation relative to the Earth’s magnetic field.[citation needed]
  • Pressure detection uses the organ of Weber, a system consisting of three appendages of vertebrae transferring changes in shape of the gas bladder to the middle ear. It can be used to regulate the buoyancy of the fish. Fish like the weather fish and other loaches are also known to respond to low pressure areas but they lack a swim bladder.
  • Current detection The lateral line in fish and aquatic forms of amphibians is a detection system of water currents, mostly consisting of vortices. The lateral line is also sensitive to low frequency vibrations. The mechanoreceptors are hair cells, the same mechanoreceptors for vestibular sense and hearing. It is used primarily for navigation, hunting, and schooling. The receptors of the electrical sense are modified hair cells of the lateral line system.
  • Polarized light direction/detection is used by bees to orient themselves, especially on cloudy days. Cuttlefish can also perceive the polarization of light. Most sighted humans can in fact learn to roughly detect large areas of polarization by an effect called Haidinger’s brush, however this is considered an entoptic phenomenon rather than a separate sense.
  • Slit sensillae of spiders detect mechanical strain in the exoskeleton, providing information on force and vibrations.

taken from wikipedia: senses