from the if-you-build-it dept
For this week's awesome stuff, we're looking at some new tools and/or toys for anyone who likes to design, build and tinker with their own technology.
Piezo Film Technology
Polyvinylidene fluoride piezoelectric film is a thin, transparent material that can be used to generate sound. Yes: that means you can make speakers out of it. This Kickstarter project is all about getting this interesting material into the hands of makers and developers, so they can start exploring the possibilities of what it can do. Two of the suggestions — paper headphones, and business cards that play sound — are pretty cool by themselves, but the creator is betting (correctly, I suspect) that people can come up with all sorts of cool ideas of their own.
The significance of 3D printing has been clear for some time now, but the sea change it promises to usher in has always felt "on the horizon". Everyone's waiting for that tipping point that will make it one of the most disruptive, revolutionary technologies in modern history — and The Element is one more step in that direction. It's a small, go-between USB device that promises to take a lot of the technical hassle out of 3D printing. It makes it easier to find and create designs, and (critically) easier to get them properly formatted and sliced for printing without the huge hassle of trial-and-error, plus it adds handy features like queuing and remote monitoring. If it brings 3D printing a step closer to "it just works" status, then it's done its job.
When I was a kid, my parents bought me one of those electronic "labs" from Radio Shack. It was a massive board covered in resistors, capacitors, transistors, diodes, switches and other components, each with little protruding springs allowing you to quickly connect them with lengths of wire. Well, the DuinoKit Jr. is that lab on steroids for the modern age. It's the same basic idea, but with components I only dreamed of like a backlit LCD display, an RGB LED and, critically, an Arduino-compatible processor at the core.