Actual. Lexus. Hoverboard!

Not a joke, not a hoax — Lexus actually built an actual hoverboard. As in Back To The Future II hoverboard. Just in time for 2015.

Let me say that again: this hoverboard is REAL. There’s no photographic trickery, no green-screening, no CGI or digital compositing. It really floats.

Here’s how they did it…

And THAT is engineering.

Yeah, there’s some sleight-of-hand involved (the tracks limit your path) and some great expense (liquid nitrogen, superconductors, etc.), but it WORKS. And that, friends, is actually INCREDIBLE, since the last hoverboard was a hoax and nobody thought that they could make a real one, ever.

Then they did.

“As our legendary Takumi craftsmen say ‘the difficult takes time; the impossible just takes a little longer’.”

Forging The Kill Bill Katana!

Forging a katana using ancient Japanese blacksmithing methods. And HOLY CROW!

I don’t have a lot of comments, which is fine because it’s a lengthy video. But I will say that people have the misimpression that “primitive = simple”. That’s BS. Frankly, very human endeavors are truly simple, not if you are truly going to master them. Simplicity is an illusion, fostered by utter ignorance of what a task really requires.

As a simple example, just consider the exact and technical jargon in the video. Each separate component has its own specific term, used to discuss making that specific part of the blade. This same specificity holds for armor (“pauldrons”, “greaves”, “vambraces” etc.), castles, bows, and on and on. All refer with exactness to one specific feature, and no other.

This specificity is required because making that individual piece by itself is a highly complicated and technical endeavor, and unskilled labor is of only limited use. And it took centuries, maybe millennia to learn how to do it.

Pretty much EVERYTHING humans do is complicated, especially the apparently simple primitive endeavors. And the video demonstrates this aptly.

The Janus Faces of Innovation

Technological advancements are funny things. Some, quite obviously, involve inventing wholly new stuff. Another kind, going the opposite direction, revolve around new uses for very old stuff.

Like the following: the legendary FPS Quake, running on an oscilloscope.

It looks really funky, and it’s obviously hard to tell the difference between a wall and a door, but it works. And that’s amazing. (“Behind the Scenes” article is here.)

Equally amazing: real-time destructible voxel vehicles.

Computers are getting fast enough and powerful enough to begin rendering games in an entirely new way, at playable speeds. With voxel modeling, no longer are characters and objects hollow spaces bounded by colored polygons, but truly volumetric objects.

Conventional game engines create objects analogous to a cardboard box: empty inside, painted on the outside. Each “face” of the box (there’s 6) is one polygon. The more polys, the more detailed the model. Some models are initially rendered with millions of polys, before being simplified for the release.

Voxel engines allow “solid” objects, like a rock (a collection of voxels, or points, define volume, not surface). It’s no longer about pushing poly limits and bumping texture resolution. Voxel-defined objects can be built up or blown apart in amazingly sophisticated ways. Voxel scenes are totally destructible: everything in a scene can be targeted and destroyed.

Coupled with a sophisticated enough physics engine (and graphics cards tuned for voxel rendering, not polys) it enables a whole new world of gameplay, a whole new level of realism and intractability.

Whether looking forward or looking back, innovation is an amazing process.

Another New Year!

By the time this goes live, it’ll be 2015 in my neck of the woods. (You Aussies and Japanese fellows got there long before I did.) That will mark the second full year this blog has been in daily operation, which is a real feat. This will be post #1203.

To balance out the dry text of that paragraph, I give you a .50 bullet that can be steered in midair.

This year saw a huge jump in daily traffic, thanks to some high profile links from well-trafficked blogs, like Ace of Spades HQ and PJ Media. Since the initial burst (1000 times our usual daily traffic), traffic has settled down to a sustained level roughly 20 times what it had been, a 2000% increase!

To make you feel better about reading another boring paragraph, a hawt Star Wars chick.

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Slave Leia. Never a bad choice.

The real mission of this blog has been sidelined, set aside, and sidetracked, but it still goes on, as the recent spate of ∞ Infinity posts show. I still have no date for the next playtest, much less a completion date, but I am pushing forward as fast as circumstances allow. I want to get this game finished, and I am doing everything I can to make that happen.

And now, something from Age of Ultron!

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Feel the Spader!

I very much appreciate all the regular visitors, new hands and old guard alike. I intend to keep up the same high quality of daily geekalicious posts for 2015, and (sometime, somehow) finish my damn game. So say we all!

In the mean time, Happy New Years and SALUT!

Deaf Dude Hears Wifi

No, not like a mutant thing (though if I were more well read in Marvel, I could tell you which X-Men character could actually do this) but because of a modified hearing aid.

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The dude.

Using grant money, Frank Swain and Daniel Jones modified Swain’s hearing aid to turn wifi signals into audible tones. Then Swain walked around London, putting together a map of wifi signals.

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His story is fascinating, and you can read the rest At The Link!