Junkshop/steampunk social-network-enabled automatic music machine:

Cybraphon consists of a number of instruments, antique machinery, and found objects from junk shops operated by over 60 robotic components, all housed in a modified wardrobe. Its emotions are shown on a 100 year old school galvanometer; a motor-driven crank drives the bellows of an Indian classical instrument modified with 13 robotic servos; a switched fan pumps air through a Farfisa organ retro-fitted with robotic keys; 12 chimes are struck by suspended solenoids; numerous percussion instruments are hit by beaters attached to motors, including a cigar box with an integral spring “reverb”; and a purpose made vinyl record is cued robotically to play through antique brass gramophone horns. In addition to these musical components, Cybraphon has several internal light sources that are controlled on four fader channels, and infra-red motion detectors to monitor people watching it.

All these elements are controlled by a hidden computer via MIDI, DMX, and Arduino boards. And wire. Lots and lots of wire.

The computer runs custom software (coded in Python and MAX/MSP) to monitor the web and update Cybraphon’s emotions according to the rate at which its popularity is changing over time. All mentions of Cybraphon online that are indexed by Google are noted, as well as activity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, MySpace, and this very website. (

Via Grand Text Auto


Seeking recourse to jellyfish as a source of inspiration for powering gas-filled balloons is an obvious thought; after all, a jellyfish consists of water to 99%. Its weight-to-volume ratio is approximately 1, and the figure is similar for a gas-filled balloon. Jellyfish fossil finds indicate an ability to survive dating back more than 500 million years. Jellyfish have thus repeatedly adapted to various environmental and living conditions and have become veritable survival artists; the diversity of jellyfish species suggests a high degree of adaptability. (Festo – AirJelly)

Absolut Quartet

The Absolut Quartet is essentially a marimba played by rubber balls that fall on to the keys after having being shot into the air by 50 miniature robotic cannons. You can “interact” with the quartet using an on-screen keyboard.

But if you think that sounds cute and no big deal, think again.

First, the quartet doesn’t just reflect back what you keyed in. It “creates” its own music based on your composition, and plays that back.

What is more, the music you and the rest of the world hear and see on screen isn’t just the video and sound of the marimba being “played” by flying rubber balls – the quartet’s other no less bizarre instruments are also played at the same time.

They include a number of percussive, drum-like sound-producing devices, and a set of spinning wineglasses rubbed by robotic fingers.

Dan Paluska and Jeff Lieberman are the two US robotics, artificial intelligence and contemporary music developers who built the quartet for Swedish vodka company, Asbolut.

They are seriously off-beat characters, both previously postgraduate students at MIT’s famous artificial intelligence and media labs. Since graduating both have been involved in projects blending art, music and technology.

Paluska, for example, attracted attention with his Holy Toaster, a device that is said to “miraculously produce a perfect imagine of holiness on every piece of toast that emerges from it.” (

[The Absolut Quartet is available for interaction and viewing online between the hours of 9AM and 11PM EST at]


Blubber Bots are floating DIY robotic species that navigate autonomously and intelligently. Blubber Bots float, dance, seek and sing. They are light-seeking hellium-filled balloons that graze the landscape in search of light and cellphone signals. Designed into the inflatable form is a set of light sensors enabling them to seek out the brightest light source. They are also equipped with a phone flasher and can recognize cellphone activity. You can interact with a Blubber Bot by making a call and waving your phone near it. In response, it will go into a flocking dance or sing you a special tune. (

See also: UCI Beall Center for Art and Technology

Reprap: The self-replicating replicator

RepRap will make plastic, ceramic, or metal parts, and is itself made from plastic parts, so it will be able to make copies of itself. It is a three-axis robot that moves several material extruders. These extruders produce fine filaments of their working material with a paste-like consistency. If RepRap were making a plastic cone, it would use its plastic extruder to lay down a quickly-hardening filament of molten plastic, drawing a filled-in disc. It would then raise the plastic extrusion head and draw the next layer (a smaller filled disc) on top of the first, repeating the process until it completed the cone. To make an inverted cone it would also lay down a support material under the overhanging parts. The support would be removed when the cone was complete. Conductors can be intermixed with the plastic to form electronic circuits – in 3D even!

This process is called fused deposition modeling; machines that do this are called 3D printers, rapid prototypers, or fabbers. They are very useful. Unfortunately they are also very expensive – €20,000 or more – and existing models don’t self-replicate. The RepRap build cost will be less than €400 for the bought-in materials, all of which have been selected to be as widely available everywhere in the world as possible. Also, the RepRap software will work on all computer platforms for free. Complete open-source instructions and plans are published on this website for zero cost and available to everyone so, if you want to make one yourself, you can. (


This summer we began work on the third of three autonomous entities we’ve been developing with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and Renew Media. It’s an “unmanned surface vehicle,” or water robot, made for protests on or near aqueous points of interest . Of course, it’s too dangerous for people to do such protests, so we need robots. (edgy_product)


Developed at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Institut HyperWerk , the project connects two corner buildings flanking the gateway from the Main Square to the Danube by clotheslines. Together with 250 boxer shorts and some robotics these lines form a spectacular Mediterranean-style matrix display (and a clear one when the wind allowed it.) (WMMNA: Clothesline Display, credit card scarves and news knitters)