четверг, 4 октября 2007 г.

skonen_blades: Brace

Kind of odd that a few coat hangers and a mocap studio made the wheelchair optional. I wanted to make puppets that could walk around, that’s all. I was an animator. I knew that aside from the root of an object centered between the hips, it's center of gravity if you will, everything else could be expressed in degrees of rotation. I figured that if a radio-controlled system of pulleys were attached to an extremely lightweight form that stayed on a predictable, level surface for locomotion, I could play back the motion capture in real life instead of on a computer screen. It took one weekend. That’s it. I cut up about two dozen coat hangers to make a roughly human-sized skeleton, used a few gears at each joint with some rubbers bands and some guitar wire stretching down each of the appendages. The heaviest part was the little motor I clipped between the hips that responsded to the jerry-rigged radio control from my kid’s remote control car. It actually added some ballast so it turned out to be good, anyway. A few trial and error runs and I had the thing take ten steps, turn and walk back the other way. By mirroring and flipping the instruction, I had it pacing back and forth in an endless loop. Well, theoretically endless, after about six times back and forth it scrabbled just a little on the hard floor and went down. I took my toy to work to show my buddies. I have to say that I honestly thought it was merely a curiousity, a nice little bit of brilliance with no real-world applications. That was before one nobel prize, seventy-five million dollars, and an almost saint-like adoration from grateful people around the world. I had sixteen patents on that thing! One of my co-workers had a friend that was studying to be a cyberneticist with a minor in nanotech theory. He recognized that with a huge library of small recorded motions to draw from, minor chapters of motion could be strung together into complex movement much like language strings together the alphabet to make words. All he needed was a material strong enough to cage human limbs comfortably but light enough to be worn without feeling like a suit of armour. He found it. It’s the one patent that isn’t mine but it’s the company that had the resources to manufacture and market The Brace first to the medical conglomerates and then to the public. Much like Stephen Hawking could build speech from choosing words with his index finger, paralyzed people could build a typical day before they got up. It didn’t bring back the feeling in their limbs but it sure made them feel more independent and, this was their words, ‘human’ again. The Brace back then in those first years was thick and obvious but over the years has it has become thinner and less awkward. Now it’s less noticeable than seams on clothes. It’s still not good with unpredictability but the interface is getting better all the time. There are those that still prefer the analog wheelchair and we don’t go for the hard sell with them. We have prototypes in the works that dance. We have prototypes in the works that are subdermal for those with facial paralysis. The metal skeletons that hold the paralyzed as a mother holds a child. There are leaps ahead every day in neural fields that will day make this brace seem obsolete and I hope it happens soon but for now, I’m one of the planets gods for a few million folks that can enjoy the simple perfection of going for a stroll. tags

Комментариев нет: