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Project Update

David Nunez
David Nunez
5 min read

Okay, let’s have a word or two about the Project.Three major projects I wanted to get “done” by the end of the year.

Approximation– a welded mechanical structure that simulates a weird definition of infinity.

So, I’m still on track to get the mechanical part of it done by December (just a motorized feather going up and down with a warped bird-like shell… That just leaves the outer structure (which will hold the “boulder” and the robot).

Well, my welding class ended, and I didn’t sign up for the second half of the year (mostly I’m being swamped with work).

I might go down and negotiate with the instructor (to whom I promised I’d be back, anyway) to get in a couple of lab times if I promise to sign up in January… I need to go visit with her to let her know that I’m still interested, anyway. She’s a great contact for when I need to buy my own welding rigs and set up a real workshop… years down the line, naturally. However, if I can’t get more welding time, I may have to push its release back until January.

Windowless Office – Sad, very sad. Here’s “my” idea: link. When I was spending some time working out sketches of this, I suddenly remembered that I had seen this a long time ago from ideo… “my” idea was basically the same concept: use colored panels or projectors to simulate the outside weather inside…

I also remembered the enchanted dining room from Harry Potter was pretty similar, as well… sigh…

I do have sketches of using a projector as a monitor for various projects, so I suppose this could become a minor software project that would be cool to have.

I’m disappointed enough to cancel “Windowless Office.” The other two subprojects involve plants and water, but I’m scrapping the whole thing (the reason I wanted three subprojects was because I didn’t feel confident enough in any one individual concept to develop it out as a full-fledged project). I’ll get around to them eventually, but my mind’s spinning around some new ideas (see below) that I can work on between now and the New Year.

Brainstorming Table – a piece of furniture used for meetings that attempts to fairly distribute “attention,” the currency of meetings.

I’ve written the software that does the math and modeling for this… yea. I’ve even prototyped a slick interface that shows the progress of the meeting as a “heart monitoresque” readout. I’ve written a simulator for the hardware components (i.e. microphones and lights), leaving myself some convenient hooks for (knocking on wood), easy swapping of code when I get hardware in place.

That’s the trick… the hardware… I’ve been pricing microphones, sound cards, microphone elements (that would require some circuit design on my part to work (gulp)) etc, etc… If I can get that worked out, and actually build the table (think on the order of complexity of a square piece of wood with microphone holes placed on top of prefabbed legs and goofy showerhead-structures rigged up with pvc pipe), then we’re in real good shape to get that out by December.

Other Concepts:

Fighting Arms: 2 arm bots (simple, with only 3 degrees of freedom… enough to navigate completely inside a cylindrical chamber). Instead of hands, they have round plates with either CdS photoresistors or solar cells covering the top and bottom of the plates.

In their chamber, there is a light source coming from the top and from the bottom… the robots want to maximise their light exposure on both sides of their plates. So the move around until they’ve found a decent spot (I guess dead center in the chamber).

A problem, though: they interfere with each other in two ways: They cannot occupy the same place in the chamber (ex. they both cannot be dead center… where they “want” to end up) and their plate structure will block light from reaching their counterpart.

To make it even more interesting, I will program the bots so that they are aware of how much light their opponent gets and are “envious” (i.e. If the other arm is recieving more light than itself, it will attempt to ruin the other arm’s exposure).

What I hope is that with these simple rules, the robots will jostle around for position constantly.

Open Source Art – Just an idea I had about people collaborating on an art project… I need to do more research, but it could be a splashy thing for a given event.

Pin art– Something to do with those toys that have rows and rows of nails that you push from behind to make patterns.

Raku– I’m so excited about the first robot show.

I have the whole performance storyboarded out and am now meticulously going through and identifiying sub-components that need to be built for each scene/act (ex. the opening scene is going to require 3 different machines… although to be fair, 2 of them are main “characters” that will be in multiple parts of the show)

Once I have a very good idea of what is going to happen in each scene and what needs to happen for each scene to be developed, then I’m going to have to break up each of those subprojects into very specific design. Unfortunately, I’m going to need to design EVERYTHING (pretty roughly, at least) beforehand so I can figure out what sort of budget I’m going to need to play with.

This is going to be a game of numbers, actually… I will probably end up sinking multiple thousands of dollars into this first show’s development (heck, building out a decent workshop as necessary is going to be costly…)…

I’ll still need music (which, presumably I’ll have to pay for: either to have someone compose something original, or to license something I’ve heard on (which has a very decent collection of artists)).

Then there’s lighting and set design (I’ll probably have a pretty heavy hand in both of those, but I’ll need somebody to ground my ideas in what’s available).

After I have put in several solid months and have some video and concept art and documentation in place, I’m going to have to start shopping the show to find venues and “tour dates/spots.” Ideally, I’d do a relatively lengthy run in Austin and then hop around Texas for a few months. All of this probably falls under “producing,” and is going to require some experienced help (another expense).

Marketing, administration, etc… more $$$…

Transporting robots around Texas… $$$

Hiring a stage crew and house manager… $$$

I don’t have that kind of cash. If I try to get some sort of funding, that’ll cut into my share of the pie… and more importantly the studio’s share…

You have to understand that there are multiple shows that will come after this initial one, each more complex than the next… If it’s in any way possible to have this thing be self-sufficient… my goodness what a wild dream.

It probably will come down to the equity game, “I can’t pay you cash, but I’ll give you 5% of the ticket sales,” etc.

Whoa.. settle down there, cowboy… step-by-step… first get yourself a working robot and then we’ll talk about opening up the resident show in Vegas.


David Nunez Twitter

Dir of Technology at the MIT Museum • Writing about emerging tech's impact on your life • Speculative insights on the intersection of humanity and technology 🤖


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