How a hyperrealistic robo-dolphin is paving the way for animatronic aquariums

Imagine, if you will, that David Attenborough or Jacques Cousteau was put in charge of a technologically advanced theme park like the one on the TV series Westworld, offering visitors a plethora of robots to interact with that are so compellingly lifelike as to be indistinguishable from the real thing.

Now imagine that, instead of an old American West setting like Westworld, this high-tech theme park was a robotic version of SeaWorld, filled with dozens of intelligent (or, at least, artificially intelligent) marine mammals, from dolphins to orcas, that look and act just like their ocean-dwelling counterparts. But, you know, without the need to take these animals out of their natural habitats and put them into cramped tanks for our amusement.

That could be the future of marine parks — and it’s one that San Francisco-based engineering company Edge Innovations wants to help make science reality instead of science fiction.

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Bulleit introduces futuristic 3D printed cocktail

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Different groundbreaking digital tools have infiltrated just about every aspect of the modern world as technology continues to improve at an ever faster rate. But one area that’s been largely untouched by tech is the bar scene. You can still find bartenders crafting drinks the same way they have for hundreds of years at the local watering hole.

That may change soon with the help of 3D printed technology recently debuted to the public as a part of Bulleit’s Frontier Works program, a series of projects and collaborations with cultural creators.

A crowd filled with industry insiders and social media influencers gathered at an abandoned train station in Oakland, California to get a glimpse into the potential future of the alcoholic beverage industry. Guests were served drinks at a giant bar made completely of 3D printed plastic but managed to look like rustic copper, an achievement its architects took pride in after completing the largest node-based printing structure they’d ever taken on.

“[Bulleit] wanted us to go bigger in scale, which is really uncommon and something they deserve credit for,” said Machine Histories principal Jason Pilarski. Computational designer Ryan Oenning compared the task to turning in a rough draft for your master’s thesis.

Impressive as the structure was, a much smaller booth adjacent to it drew more attention as the night went on. That’s where German robotics pioneers Benjamin Greimel and Philipp Hornung supervised a robotic arm making 3D printed cocktails.

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The Flaming Lips performed a concert with the band and fans encased in plastic bubbles

The Flaming Lips perform in plastic bubbles

It’s unclear whether The Flaming Lips are using jelly — or vaseline, for that matter — at their concerts these days. The rock band is, however, trying plastic bubbles.

The rock musicians from Oklahoma City are literally blowing up in 2020, using inflatable human-sized bubbles to defend themselves and fans against Covid-19 while finding a way to play live.

Performing at The Criterion in their hometown on Monday evening, The Flaming Lips placed themselves — and all attending fans — inside individual plastic spheres. The concert — which was part live show, part music video shoot — was born out of a sketch doodled by Wayne Coyne during the pandemic’s early days, the frontman told CNN.

“I did a little drawing… where I drew a picture of The Flaming Lips doing a show in 2019. And I’m the only person in the space bubble, and everybody else is just normal,” Coyne told CNN during a phone interview on Friday. “Then (I did another drawing with) The Flaming Lips playing a show in 2020. The exact same scenario, but I’m in a bubble, and so is everybody else.”

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Sony reveals Spatial Reality Display, a 4K screen with glasses-free 3D

Volumetric 3D displays are neither easy to produce nor common, as holographic imagery generally requires a mix of stereoscopic screen technology and unique optics, sometimes backed by high-speed eye tracking. Today, the display experts at Sony are throwing their hat into the ring with a new option called the ELF-SR1 — also known as the Spatial Reality Display — which is initially being targeted at professional users in content creation businesses, but with an eye towards future use in consumer-facing applications.

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Formula E founder develops world’s first electric powerboat championship

 

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Image: E1 World Electric Powerboat Series

Alejandro Agag, founder of both the Formula E and Extreme E championships, has just announced the formation of an all-electric powerboat league called the E1 World Electric Powerboat Series. Once again, the whole goal of the series is to draw attention to the environmental concerns that impact marine life.

It’s a similar mission statement to that of both FE and Extreme E. Open-wheel FE races on the streets of large metropolitan cities like Paris and Berlin in order to draw attention to electric technology. Extreme E, by contrast, takes place in remote locations for the same purpose.

The powerboat series seems to have more in common with Extreme E in its mission. From Agag:

The earth’s oceans, lakes and rivers are under huge environmental pressure and the E1 World Electric Powerboat Series will lead the way in electrifying water mobility for future generations.

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Pandemic accelerated cord cutting, making 2020 the worst-ever year for pay TV

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The pandemic has accelerated adoption of a number of technologies, from online grocery to multiplatform gaming to streaming services and more. But one industry that has not benefited is traditional pay TV. According to new research from eMarketer, the cable, satellite and telecom TV industry is on track to lose the most subscribers ever. This year, over 6 million U.S. households will cut the cord with pay TV, bringing the total number of cord-cutter households to 31.2 million.

The firm says that by 2024, the number will grow even further, reaching 46.6 million total cord-cutter households, or more than a third of all U.S. households that no longer have pay TV.

Despite these significant declines, there are still more households that have a pay TV subscription than those that do not. Today, there are 77.6 million U.S. households that have cable, satellite or telecom TV packages. But that number has declined 7.5% year-over-year — its biggest-ever drop. The figure is also down from pay TV’s peak in 2014, the analysts said.

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The future of live events is here and depends on these 4 factors

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The future of live events is here and depends on these 4 factors

 When it comes to reimagining what the events industry will look like in the near future, these are the four things we should all be thinking about.

If there was ever a catalyst to reimagine the events space, the coronavirus is it.

Over the years, corporate live events have transformed to include celebrity speakers, VIP access, exclusive private dinners, mobile-first ticketing, and a wide assortment of high production value add-ons—one of which being a film recording or, more recently, live streaming capabilities. But it wasn’t until the majority of the world went into quarantine that the concept of digital broadcasting went from being a cool addition to an in-person event to becoming its central focus.

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The Event Industry is being confronted by its Napster moment

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All types of business events are in danger of their revenue streams of tickets, sponsorships, memberships, and other types of fees being eroded. This is happening as the world gets used to digital formats and alternatives emerge to physical networking, matchmaking, and other tasks we get out of these events. The threat sounds familiar?

 

I won’t bury the headline: the vast, global events industry is going through its Napster moment through this pandemic, and is in denial on what this will do to it.

Everything about the underlying economics of this sprawling, diverse, chaotic and highly profitable sector is being undercut by the move to virtual, and 2019 may be the year where the industry’s revenues peaked. This year could be the event industry’s 2000 moment à la what happened to the music industry.

I was there during the music industry’s Napster moment in late ’90s, a cub reporter covering the vast promise of early internet, and wrote hundreds of stories about what happened to labels and the economic structure of music industry and music acts. I wrote about the atomization of the album into singles and the download boom with rise of Apple’s iTunes, and then the start of the streaming boom that led to Spotify and others since.

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The Voronoi mesh on this bike helmet allows it to absorb maximum impact with minimal material

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 A perfect example of how generative design can be used to create products that serve their purpose incredibly well, the Voronoi Bike Helmet comes with an unusual mesh on its outer surface. The mesh, created using parametric modeling, helps maximize shock absorption while minimizing material used, creating a helmet that’s effective but also lightweight. Sitting right under the flexible mesh is its underlying hard-hat, made from carbon-fiber.

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Drive-through strip clubs are a thing now

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Dancer Olivia entertains patrons during the Drive-thru at The Lucky Devil in Portland, Oregon.

Some strip clubs have found a creative way to keep workers employed through the pandemic.

It was bound to happen. Despite the pandemic, strip clubs have found a way to bring customers back in, while keeping bartenders, servers, and entertainers employed.

Enter the drive-through strip club, where you can order a burger and beer from your car, while performers dance with masks on behind a barricade. There are now at least a couple of these joints in the U.S., including Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon, and Vivid Gentleman’s Club, in Houston.

Strip club employees are particularly vulnerable in the midst of the pandemic-induced recession. As The Cut reported, dancers at these venues are effectively gig workers. They don’t earn an hourly wage, nor do they have benefits or paid time off. They rely entirely on tips. And these earnings dried up when strip clubs had to close during state-mandated lockdowns.

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eSkootr is a high-speed electric scooter racing series launching in 2021

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It’s basically Formula E for micromobility

A group of Formula One and Formula E drivers are starting a new racing series that will pit competitors against each other on ultra-fast custom-built electric scooters. The series — dubbed “Electric Scooter Championship,” or “eSkootr” — is set to launch in 2021, and the launch video shows riders whizzing through city streets on Tron-style vehicles and wearing matching neon-accented gear.

There are, unfortunately, few other details about the series, like how it’s being funded or who the competitors will be. All the organizers say is that the “category’s affordability removes the high barrier to entry seen in most other motorsport series, and its versatility means the series can recruit from a truly diverse cross-section of competitors – including racing drivers, cyclists, skaters, snowboarders, motorcyclists, and even esports racers.”

Whoever does compete will be putting themselves in a remarkably risky position, though, as the scooters are allegedly going to be capable of outrageous top speeds of around 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 miles per hour). They will feature large platforms, fat tires, and full suspensions in order to handle going that fast — at least, according to the launch video. But those kinds of speeds carry great risk even with a purpose-built vehicle and top-tier protective gear. As for where the scooters will come from, organizers say they have “already partnered with a recognized high-technology provider” to build them and will “reveal the prototype later this year,” though they don’t name the company.

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Space tourists could ride this cosmic balloon to the edge of space

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Competition in the space tourism industry is heating up, and a new company is taking a unique approach to near-space exploration.

The prospect of space travel has long-since enchanted humanity. Now, as competition heats up across the burgeoning spaceflight industry, this sci-fi fantasy may soon become reality. The company Space Perspective is offering a unique transport twist on the standard spacefaring business model. Rather than harnessing the latest propulsion technology or rocket busters, the company is using a pressurized cabin and a high-altitude balloon to chauffeur tourists to the cusp of the final frontier. But how much will it cost? Also, why balloons?

Space Perspective was founded by co-CEOs Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum. While a balloon may not immediately strike some as the ideal mode of transport for such an undertaking, the “serial entrepreneurs” behind the company have a rich history of lofty ideas tethered to these buoyant instruments.

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