3D-printed dresses, an incompetent barista for your kitchen and more in this week’s Staff Picks

Digital Trends Staff Picks

andrew coutsAndrew Couts: Remembering the Wild, Wild Web

The Web is alive. Once a cacophonous jumble of bustling forums, flashing Geocities pages, and grimy subculture underbellies, the Web of today exists mostly above ground. Even the dark corners that have survived can be exposed to the sunlight of public scrutiny with a single tweet. But the Web’s transformation is far from finished. As University of Maine communications and journalism assistant professor Michael J. Socolow writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “We are at a pivotal moment in the Web’s evolution.” The economy of advertising on the Web is changing. Because of this, the Web’s open nature is gradually succumbing to paywalls and walled gardens. “The free-content gravy train is quickly breaking down,” he writes. “The Web is starting to feel constricted and channeled as each new gate and tollbooth appears.” And some day, we will tell our children about the Web that we know today, a Web that will no longer be. So take notes – because sometime in the not-too-distance future, now will be known as the good old days.

Wild Web

natt garunGoodbye, Project Runway; In the future, we’ll 3D print our own dresses

The rise of 3D printing has been a fun phenomenon to watch, but for the most part, I haven’t seen anyone outside of the tech realm particularly swayed to buy 3D-printed iPhone cases over traditional kinds. And there isn’t exactly a booming general consumer market for 3D-printed mugs, guitars, and or board-game pieces. 

This line of 3D-printed dresses from Paris Fashion Week, however, may just change attitudes. A collaboration between Dutch designer Iris van Herpen and Belgian-based manufacturer Materialise, these flexible, soft dresses feature incredible details you won’t ever find in a fabric print. The printed effect also helps the dress create its shape and form, constructing a shell-like volume designers often struggle to achieve with traditional fabric. Sure, each dress probably costs upward of $10,000, but I couldn’t help but imagine: What if the future of 3D printing means fashion designers will eventually sell their dress blueprints online so people at home can 3D print their own wardrobe? No more awkwardly trying on clothes at the mall, no returns and exchanges, no complaining that the dress doesn’t come in your preferred color. You can also print the same dress in a different size if you gain or lose weight, or manage to damage the first version. That hopeful future may be light years away from ever becoming affordable, but I’ll hold out hope for getting my grandchild a 3D-printed prom dress one day.

3D printed dress

Jennifer BergenOoh la la! The world’s first computer art was titillating filth

Porn today is very different from the early days of Playboy in the early 50s. Sixty years later, fewer and fewer dirty mags are being hidden under the mattress as more people favor hard drives for their XXX collection. Though porn on computers is nothing new, we were surprised to find out that provocative images on computer screens actually date back to 1956. when an anonymous IBM employee took the artwork of a naked lady from an Esquire calendar and turned her into the world’s first instance of computer art. In a must-read Atlantic article by Benj Edwards, we learn that the pinup girl “was programmed as a series of short lines, or vectors, encoded on a stack of about 97 Hollerith type punched cards.”

The two U.S. Military-owned computers that read this stack of cards cost $189 million each (in today’s dollars), and took up half an acre of space. We can only imagine what the men working on these mammoth-sized computers would think of today’s $35 credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computer. We salute this mysterious IBM programmer and pioneer of what was essentially the world’s first instance of computer porn. Make sure to check out the Atlantic article for the full story.

Computer porn


instagram idiocy marshmallows or the moon and staff picks les shuDon’t try to get to know me, just make me my coffee, dammit

There is something about my name that confuses the hell out of all Starbucks baristas. It’s three letters and relatively easy to say, yet I either have to repeat it three times or spell it out. Even that only works only about 40 percent of the time. After years of seeing Liz, Lez, Wes, Jess, and what appears to be Klingon language written on my cups, I’ve just resorted to calling myself Bob. Perhaps I’m the butt of some inside joke that takes place inside every Starbucks. But, as this recent Saturday Night Live sketch proves, I am not the only one who’s had to go through this ordeal.

In this “commercial” for the new Starbucks Verismo home coffee maker, one of the functions mentioned is a built-in voice feature that calls out your name when your drink is ready. Hilariously, the machine gets the name wrong, as well as the beverage. The machine then communicates with the Verquonica, a device designed for the sole purpose of talking trash with the Verismo about the customer. I’ll admit that the sketch is not P.C. – it’s probably borderline racist – but those of us who have had to endure having our name mangled by Starbucks employees can take comfort in knowing that we aren’t the only ones.

caleb denisonCaleb Denison: Baby you can drive my car

Recently, Digital Trends published a piece proposing that the safety tech built into cars is making us worse drivers. I’ll admit that I agree with the majority of what the author has to say, but I also feel compelled to point out that there are some hazardous driving situations we are occasionally confronted with which humans simply can’t anticipate, or react to quickly enough to handle safely.

There’s a reason we don’t use slide rules anymore, folks: Computers are exponentially faster and more efficient than humans at processing mathematically complex problems. Along the same lines, machines are capable of accomplishing certain physical tasks with the sort of speed and precision humans are incapable of. And when we pair computers with machines, sometimes what we get is a mechanism that will save our ass in those moments when we are incapable of saving it ourselves.

Case in point: Volvo’s new CW-EB system (Collision Warning with Emergency Brake). You could have the visual acuity of an eagle and the reflexes of Bruce Lee, but you would still be unable to avoid certain collision scenarios – especially if you have several tons of cargo on your back. Those situations make Volvo’s new tech invaluable and necessary. In the video below, you’ll see how quickly a large truck is able to come to a stop once the CW-EB detects trouble. Check out how close the truck gets every time. It’s wince-inducing, and awesome.

 

Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

Meet the gene-edited bacteria that could make cannabis plants obsolete

Ever wanted to brew cannabis like you brew craft beer? At UC Berkeley, biologists have managed to engineer brewer’s yeast so that it produces the main cannabinoids found in marijuana.
Trash

Smash your carrier shackles with the best unlocked phones

If you want the freedom to switch carriers at will or you prefer to get your phone directly from the company that makes it, you'll want to buy an unlocked smartphone. These are the best unlocked phones you can buy in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

Star gives off superflare equal to 80 billion megatonnes of TNT. That’s a lot

A tiny star the size of Jupiter has been observed giving off a massive superflare 10 times more powerful than any flare from our Sun. The findings are raising questions about how much energy small stars can hold.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…