Conduit "creatures" that walk the beach

Day Three, live from SolidWorks World 2008:

Announced today at the opening session of the SolidWorks 2008 show was a new program called 3Dvia Composer -- formerly Seemage -- that Dassault recently purchased. It is a Web-based product that works with SolidWorks to deliver 3D content for non-engineering personnel such as marketing and sales.

A few customers highlighted in today's presentation include medical companies such as Still River Systems Inc, which makes proton therapy systems (used instead of the more-intrusive X-ray systems). The systems use particle-beam accelerators to fire electron in a precise manner towards tumors. Another one is Taga Innovations in Israel which designed a device called the "Rewalk." Quadriplegics can strap one on and walk for the first time in their lives.

Danny Forster from the Discovery Channel's Big it Builder show spoke on how as an architect he designs in nothing but 3D. One recent project was the Glenville Stadium in Arizona which has a retractable football field. This makes it easier to grow fresh grass on the field, as well as allows it to be used for activities other than football. In the past, stadiums were designed as a structure with the design then wrapped around it like wallpaper. It was decided that this building should look like a snake coiled on itself because of its desert surroundings and because the snake is the Patriots logo. So, the stadium was engineered as a hyperbolic curve bent in on itself.

But of all the presentations, the one that truly blew my mind was one from a kind of mad genius named Theo Jansen. He engineers "creatures" that live on the beach -- what he called "new forms of life not made of protein." The creatures' protein is cable conduit, while their "muscles" are conduit that pumps air into a soda bottle for reuse. "Nerve cells" made from inverters trigger the muscles. Three inverters make a dynamic system or a computer that is the beginnings of the brains of the animal. The creatures get their energy from the wind and do not have to compete for food. Jansen's vision is that they will eventually live on herds on the beach.

Check out this video of the incredible creatures.

A creature taking a nap

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