RE.WORK Berlin 2014 – Day One

RE.WORK is a far-reaching proposal for all those who are interested in how new technologies will affect our lives and business. It is organized in diverse cities during the year, bringing some of the most promising professionals and researchers on diverse high-tech areas. Last week we joyfully attended RE.WORK Technology Summit in Berlin: the easy-going nature of the city fitted so well with the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere of the gathering. It was the evidence that breakthrough ideas can be spread cleverly as well as peacefully.

First exciting proposal of the day came with Jamie Paik, contributor on École Polytechnique Fédérale de Laussanne and Harvard Microbotics Laboratory, who introduced us into the polymorphic universe of soft robotics. Robots’ softness can be extrinsic (by the way it is designed) or intrinsic (by the material chosen): they are conceived to act there where people or hard robots can’t reach, with a high level of accuracy. This research area is demonstrating itself highly useful in many different applications, as the soft robots are more adaptive, multi-tasked and re-purposed than the “harder” versions. They are ready to revolutionize many professional fields: from comfortable exoskeletons to exploratory robots, soft-robots can be an essential tool in the future. For a more graphic explanation, this video from Harvard University is really eyeopening:

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Collecting Data from One’s Own: an interview with Daito Manabe

After his enthralling speech at Sónar +D, we were eager to have the chance of speaking closely with internationally renowned artist Daito Manabe. A multi-faceted creator, so many are his specialties that it is difficult to name them all: programmer, designer, VJ, researcher, technologist … Seeing his cutting-edge projects succeeding one another, it seems that a perpetual storm must occur inside his head. Nevertheless, face to face and with the company of his translator, Daito Manabe was a calm and collected man, with warm manners and fresh thoughts.

P.N. With so many facets of your creativity running on your trajectory, which is the one that would define you better? An artist, an engineer, a researcher?

D.M. I really don’t mind, I tend not to label myself. Actually I spent most of my time programming…

P.N. Your researches and inventions involving motility are really a bright step forward. Are you planning to apply them in implementations for everyday life, for instance using them with therapeutic purposes?

D.M. I’m open to work for any purpose. I have not a license as a doctor, but I will be completely open to work with some. I’m doing anything that keeps me interested, and that would be interesting too: so if someone ask me, I will be glad to explore that practical application.

P.N. Your works are always filled with technical challenges. Which technical problems use to hinder your projects?

D.M. Usually most difficulties come from non-existing hardware, as software is easier for me to develop. Sometimes it is difficult to control: for instance, on the physical electrical stimulus you can’t see everything on the screen, as the real impact of the power you are administering, so these are really important issues.

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Sónar +D – Day One

Besides the internationally renowned Sónar Advanced Music Festival, simultaneously this week Barcelona celebrates Sónar +D, a Creativity & Technology event, where some of the most cutting-edge artists and researchers get together in a wondrous kaleidoscope of highly talented people. Eager to know new stunning proposals, we were there from its Day One.

Our first discovering was the successful Belfast-born project Patchblocks , programmable mini-synth modules that caused a backing storm at Kickstarter. It has everything to delight inquiring musical minds: it is modular, it is funny and it is open. These modular synth units can be joined as puzzle pieces, and even they can be plugged to other musical instruments and gadgets, creating a wide range of sounds. Just “playing” with them, you realize the incredible variety of possibilities that these low-fi artifacts provide you, in a nearly-infinite constellation of combinations. There is a strong emphasis on the community side of the project, to share experiences and sounds. The perfect instrument to turn a musician into a maker!

After this, Andy Goodman and John Alexiou discussed about new trends on wearable devices, with witty statements like “In wearables importance is not on the device, but on the experience”. Andy Goodman, from the design agency Fjord, placed wearables on their very initial stage, remarking the issues their development still implies: recharge difficulties, tricky use of too small screens, and ugly appearance. He pointed out the great importance of the evolution of materials as the real way to improve actual wearables: to insert an electronic artifact on a textile piece, he said, doesn’t seem to him as interesting as making the materials of the textile piece fulfill a given function. “There’s no a killer app in wearables yet”, he stated.  Would it ever appear?

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About Smart Textiles and Wearables: an interview with Oscar Tomico

The impressive curriculum of Oscar Tomico makes clear that he has exceeded by far the “young promise” state. Developing several simultaneous projects as researcher and professor from Eindhoven to Tsukuba and many other renowned universities, this Barcelona- born Designer  has transformed interaction design from a weird way of imagining things to a reality surrounding us in our daily live in the more natural manner. Focusing now on Smart Textiles, he gave an enthralling talk at Replic_age 2014 Madrid about how our clothes will change and improve our lives in years to come.

Replic_age Day 2 was arriving to its end, and everyone was taking their place in front of a supersized screen where they will broadcast the Champions League final match between two historical rivals: Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid. While people took their beers and get ready for an intense soccer time, I asked Oscar Tomico if he would be so kind to grant me some minutes for an interview. And despite all the excitement, noise and loud laughter around us, he strung together a long thread of really deep-minded thoughts about Smart Textiles, Wearables and the future of fashion industry.

P.N. Which lines are you mainly developing by now?

O.T. Nowadays I’m focusing mainly in two lines: by one hand, designing services based on Smart Textiles; by the other, taking Wearables to fashion. On the first line we are trying to help textile industries to change with the help of creative industries, revolving the basis of their business thinking. For instance, transforming the vertical production structure to a flatter, collaborative structure. We help them to go from a very general idea about the future to specific projects to be carried out locally with available infrastructures.

Oscar Tomico at Matadero Madrid
Oscar Tomico at Matadero Madrid

P.N. There is a growing interest by locally made products. Do you think this is a real way to revert globalization?

O.T. Actually, I think that the idea of creating something separated from one’s own context and history is a dead idea. Now people is realizing that if everybody makes furniture as Ikea, Ikea will make it cheaper… so it won’t be a really good idea. Everybody making Scandinavian design, it has not sense at all. Hence people is realizing that the only way of distinguishing your product is that it reveals the place where it came, the materials and culture that come from the place of one’s own. We shall design locally for a global market.

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Replic_age 2014 Madrid : Day 2

On Saturday, the Design & Digital Manufacturing event Replic_age started with Martín Sáez from the Belgian company Materialise. Counting with more than 20 years of experience in business, they gave us a solid and realistic vision about professional 3D printing, emphasizing the idea of that 3D printers are being used from a long time in industry.

Next on stage was the Dutch independent researcher Peter Troxler. He is an ideologist, a theoretician of Open Source, mainly applied to Design. He delivered a magnificent Lecture brimming with persuasion and deep considerations. Troxler stressed the importance of a sense of responsibility within the Maker Movement, as we shall go beyond the simple consumerism and banality. Open Source was outlined not only as a good faith answer, but also as a reliable business option. Also, he brilliantly explained the basis of the 3rd Industrial Revolution, condensing the main ideas from a wide intellectual corpus written around this concept. In short, Troxler exhibited in front us us the multiple elements which act in the creation of this new context: from the tight relationship between renewable energies and communicating technologies as Internet, to the new cooperation relationships and useful development. He was so gentle to grant an interview after his speech, that we will publish in a later post.

Peter Troxler at Replic_age 2014
Peter Troxler at Replic_age 2014

After a short break, the artist potter Jonathan Keep came on stage. He explained detailedly how he achieved to make porcelain pots using 3D-printing techniques. Since such printers for clay didn’t exist by then, he even had to make his own, using pieces of several sources. He designs by coding trying to emulate the way Nature works.

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OFFF Festival Barcelona 2014: Beyond The Stages

At OFFF Barcelona 2014, we also found some interesting stuff beyond the stages, take for instance  The Folio Club, the Barcelona-based platform aimed at promoting and producing independent editorial projects. They also provide offset-digital printing services. We talked with Ana about the print-related projects they promote, she also told us that The Folio Club helped to produce The Poool, the delightful OFFF printed magazine.

At “El Mercadillo”, a place full of exhibition stands with interesting products and services, we talked with Eddie from Camaloon, they make custom stickers and pin badges for personal or promotional use. They featured the Camaloon Be Noticed Corner where attendants to the Festival could draw and write anything they wanted.

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Our First Post !

Digital is ubiquitous, like it happened with electricity. It is not a novelty anymore.

We live in an hybrid age. Differences between “old” and “new” technologies become irrelevant. Every day, new projects merging physical and digital worlds are born.

PostDigital Node is a blog about bits and atoms.

We are aimed to promote projects related to Digital Fabrication, Maker Culture, Niche Factories, Wearable Tech, Internet of Things, Big Data, Smart Cities, Open Hardware, Sharing Economy, Legal Tech, Smart Health, Biohacking, Civic Tech, DIY / DIWO, Crowdfunding, Open Source, Creative Commons, Open Design, and more …

We are based in Barcelona, a cosmopolitan and creative city attracting talent from all over the world.

The PostDigital Node team

Alicia Soria

Fabián D’alesio

and Kafka, “The Maker Cat”

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