Personality Core: Part 1

A while ago I had a page dedicated to an A.I. that was running in my dorm room that could turn lights on and off when commands were spoken. My roommate and I have decided to overhaul the system substantially, collaborating with our friends and neighbors at MIT to develop custom software. We decided along the way that rather than having an ominous presence in our room, the system should have some physical representation.

Flash forward a few weeks to the launch of Portal 2. The game brought to our attention the loveable, but ultimately evil, Wheatley. After some discussion we decided that a personality core like Wheatley would be appropriate for our room.

The Aperture Science Personality Constructs, also known as Personality Cores or Personality Spheres, are independent spheres containing advanced personality software created by Aperture Science for use in their laboratories. They are the backbones of the facility.

The creators of Portal were able to give the personality cores a tremendous amount of character despite their apparent simplicity.

The below video is a spoiler! At 00:40 you can really get a sense of how expressive these spheres can be.

Armed with images and videos to work from, I have spent the past couple days getting my ideas together on how to go about building this thing. Below are some of my scanned drawings. The design has progressed a lot, but I have had to make concessions and eliminate some of the movements to reduce the complexity of the build. I am also far from set on the current version of the bot. The eye lid still needs to be designed and a satisfactory way to attach the outer ring to the swing arms I have sketched has yet to be worked out. I am going to continue to hammer out a few details of the design on paper, then transition to a mix of SolidWorks and a foam-core mock-up. From there I will begin to gather all of the materials and parts. I know how I am going to build this, but am saving that for a later post. The sensor and micro controller portion will also be saved for a later post.

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Earbud Logo

A quick logo for a close friend who asked me to translate some sketches into something more appropriate for a final group project. The project revolved around voice software.

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MITERS Documentary

Ilya Smelansky, an NYU film student, came by the ERS and made a documentary. I think it does a great job of showing who we are and what we do. To find out more about MITERS and all of its greatness check the links section. I made the final cut, but am a little unintelligible (talking to potential freshmen for several hours will do that to you).

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Lego(TM) Printer-bot

Finally throwing up some pictures of the printer-bot. Unfortunately I don’t have any videos of the tests that we ran, but wait a year for the snow to come back and there will be more on this project.

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Formula One and Moto GP

With the semester winding down projects have finally been getting more attention. One of the projects that I’ve started to assemble a team for is a reverse leaning electric trike. The idea is to build an electric trike that looks like the slick offspring of Formula One and Moto GP. The inspiration for the build came from looking into unique ways to get around campus, which eventually evolved into a full fledged vehicle. The project is in the concept phase, and we are beginning to define our goals. My hope for the project is to take it far enough to get others interested in building similar vehicles. One of the great aspects of competitive racing is the drive to develop new and better technology to give you the edge over the other guy. To create a new format for racing, one that is centered around electric vehicles but that could draw fans from Moto GP and Formula One, could potentially generate some really powerful technological developments in the EV world. Once you begin to look into ways to optimize performance, batteries, regenerative techniques, and motor designs get reanalyzed and redesigned. The team is small and we are looking for more contributors. Below are some initial sketches and ideas for the trike.

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MITI Card Case

Most card magicians swear by their card clips and few would disagree that the Porper clip is the industry standard. The members at the MIT Illusionists club have been discussing developing custom equipment and new techniques to contribute to the field of magic, and I felt that the card clip would be a fun place to start. The goal is just to create a custom card case that is unique to the members of MITI, and in the process play around with the design and production process. So far only I have defined the criteria for the design, but that will be opened up to the other members by the end of the week. I wanted to create a card case, not a clip, that enclosed the entire deck and offered full protection. My design is Apple inspired in that the main component of the case is milled from a solid piece of 3/4″ aluminum. The top flips up to reveal the deck inside. Below are some renderings of the case. I’ve already made a prototype and have changes that I want to make to the design, mainly making the walls thinner and finalizing the hinge. More to come.

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Mind Control, Giant Printers, & Code

Projects are coming along but my time has been really limited these past couple months. After the 6.270 competition in January I dived right into school work.

Despite the hectic schedule a team of us here at MIT joined forces to build a snow printer. The project began as a funny what-if and has evolved into a full fledged robot that is capable of printing 32ft x 50ft images in the snow. The concept is simple, a small robot (made from LEGOs) drives back and forth on a 16ft beam spraying food coloring. The beam is then manually moved 6 in. after the bot has completed its run. The intensity of the spray is varied to achieve gray-scale and we can stack prints to achieve huge images. The resolution is approximately 4px/sq.ft. We wrote custom image software in Processing that takes an image and outputs an array with the appropriate coordinates and color for every pixel. A microcontroller is then loaded with the array. Initial tests were successful but we ran into issues with the memory constraints on the microcontroller. Sadly the snow has now melted and we have nothing to print on… At the top of the post is the visualization of our print.

Other projects have been cropping up here and there. I am anxious to do some more work with EL wire and possible integrate some fiber optics this time. I think it would interesting to package it in a full body costume using the techniques from the Iron Man build. Right now the project is just a pile of sketches. The EL Wire Suit got picked up by another Japanese TV show through MITERS and we will be filming on Friday. Pics to come!

My main project right now is through the MIT Media Lab. We are working on developing a new way for humans and computers to interact. The user wears an EEG headset and can control the computer by just thinking. Our focus is on browsing the internet and using social-media websites. The technology is in place and we are hoping to expand its capabilities. Once we make more progress I will post sample videos.

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