News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education

GREEN

Recent Loss of Ice in Antarctica Disturbs Earth’s Gravity Field

Posted by on May 26, 2015

Whenever I think of Antarctica melting, I can’t help but picture those awful end-of-the-world “movies” (notice the quotation marks) where one large piece of ice...

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INNOVATE

Spokester Kickstarts Making Your Bike Sound Like a Motorcycle

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015

The Spokester bicycle noisemaker was invented by Kevin Nelson to improve on the decades ­old idea of attaching baseball cards to a bicycle to simulate a motorcycle sound....

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TECHNOLOGY

PAC-Man Maze Race with Drones & FPV by Ctrl.me Robotics

Posted by on Aug 16, 2015

Ctrl.Me Robotics located in Venice Beach, Ca is hyperfocused on the future of drones with custom software and hardware to further safety and innovation. As one of Los Angeles’ only...

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SCIENCE

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015

NASA hosted a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) project at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California on Edwards Air...

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Recent Posts

Spokester Kickstarts Making Your Bike Sound Like a Motorcycle

Spokester Kickstarts Making Your Bike Sound Like a Motorcycle

Aug 20, 2015

The Spokester bicycle noisemaker was invented by Kevin Nelson to improve on the decades ­old idea of attaching baseball cards to a bicycle to simulate a motorcycle sound. It’s a fun innovative toy that is simple, inexpensive, durable and can also be used as a safety device. Spokester is a clever one­piece design which fits all bicycles for kids and it’s the perfect snap-on exhaust for your bike! QGITS had the chance to talk with Entrepreneur, Product Director & Graphic Designer Adam Nelson and also the son of Kevin Nelson about their new Kickstarter launch campaign for Spokester.

QGITS: Tell us about the ingenious story of how your Dad Kevin came up with the concept and idea for Spokester?

Adam Nelson: My Dad had a couple of other little business ventures that he started he always wanted to be an Inventor. So he had experience with that as far as like what it takes to kind of go from idea to product. He had some friends that were engineers, he knew some CAD/CAM people and there was a little production facility where he worked out a deal with to where we could test the product and work out some of the kinks without having to go full production. This was back before we could do a one off thing like using a 3D printer. He basically just worked it out, he did a lot of sketching, prototyping with plastics that were just milled out of hunks of plastic instead of properly injecting material into a mould like we ended up doing eventually. It was trial and error until we found something that worked. He experimented with numerous materials including credit cards, paper, and metal until he settled on an injection moulded, flexible plastic concept.

Just 12 days to reach their goal! Help donate & support Spokester Kickstarter campaign. It promotes exercise and cultivates imagination by continuing the timeless tradition that many kids have shared: pretending bikes are motorcycles. Watch their Kickstarter video and help back this project.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/spokester/

QGITS:What are some of the safety benefits of Spokester?

Adam Nelson: Obviously the biggest use of Spokester is as a toy but we have people who use it for the safety aspect. A number of industrial and aerospace companies with large campuses use Spokesters as part of their safety programs. Their employees use bicycles to move between buildings or hangars, and the Spokesters alert others of their approach. There was also a retirement home that used it and clipped it on a special way that it was used on wheel chairs which was operated more as way to keep track of people.

QGITS:How does Spokester work?

Adam Nelson: We wanted to come up with something and make it as simple as possible, it’s all about the user experience so I think part of that was we want this product to be on the store shelf so you can grab it snap it on and not have to do any work.  You don’t want to have to use any screws or tape or a get a specific size or anything like that. We have where it’s very simple or basic while it still does what it is suppose to do. That’s what we came up with we found out a way that this particular shape bends enough that you can fit it onto a vast majority of the kids bikes out there. It snaps on and claps down so you know it’s on there and then your good to go. You just pop it off whenever you want or you can turn it out on your spokes so it doesn’t make noise and keep on your bike so you don’t lose it. Its pretty amazing that it actually worked out so well.

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QGITS: How will Kickstarter help out Spokester?

Adam Nelson: We plan to do a mass production with it and the official way to do it is to make a big multi cavity of mould digs and stamp a whole bunch of them in each run which what we are going to do. We did an initial run when we first created it, but we had to create a mold which is really expensive like tens of thousands of dollars and that’s before you even actually produce product. We didn’t really know what we were getting into so we just did a single cavity one which make it a lot more expensive because it just takes longer to do each one and so a Kickstarter was all about really ramping up production and getting one that we can do four at a time and start to do volume production. Its time to take next steps and get it out there and to a retailer location and that’s what Kickstarter is all about

QGITS: Can anyone develop and start their own product idea?

Adam Nelson: It’s easier to do than you think. Especially now a days with 3D printers and 3D modeling software you can put a good idea into your modeling software then drop it in the printer and have something that evening to try out. It’s not going to be perfect like having production quality but atleast get your ideas out into the world and then you can later make some tweeks. Its something you can do it yourself, so if you got an idea certainly find yourself a little rapid protyping shop just go to talk to them and see what they can do for you.

Support American made products. Help back Spokesters reach their goal of $35,000 and donate here to help them kickstart the Spokester: www.kickstarter.com/projects/spokester/

 

 

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www.spokester.com

PAC-Man Maze Race with Drones & FPV by Ctrl.me Robotics

PAC-Man Maze Race with Drones & FPV by Ctrl.me Robotics

Aug 16, 2015

Ctrl.Me Robotics located in Venice Beach, Ca is hyperfocused on the future of drones with custom software and hardware to further safety and innovation. As one of Los Angeles’ only R & D labs, Ctrl.Me is developing software to make any drone as safe as possible and livestreaming aerial views to multiple devices. Last week Ctrl.me had an interactive Pac-Man maze race open to the community where people paired up in teams, as one wore an FPV headset while the other guided you overhead by flying a drone to get you through the maze. QGITS talked more about the event with Adam Gibson of Ctrl.me.

QGITS: What’s happening here tonight?

Adam Gibson: Tonight this is basically an experiment of how LEDs will work with drones at night and beyond. What we are trying to determine is somewhere we can traverse VR with FPV which is first person view, in terms of drones. FPV goes beyond virtual reality it’s real life VR.

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QGITS: I heard your going do this possibly in Vegas?

Adam Gibson: We might do this next month at InterDrone a big drone expo at the Rio. This is going to be a very interesting experience in terms of a massive meetup for lots of people which is what we are trying to accomplish in bringing a lot of people of the drone community together. We want to experiment with these machines beyond just taking pictures and make it more of an experience or an immersive environment that people aren’t regularly used to.

QGITS: Who can attend these events?

Adam Gibson: This is more or less for the drone community for people that are new to it or people that are just interested and maybe they are trying to get into it. Also seasoned veterans that are really into drones and they are looking to do something different. I think that we are all really pretty familiar with flying cameras for now, we have been doing that for about four years. It’s time to try take it to the next level in terms of not just what Oculus is doing but beyond that with first person view goggles and companies like Fat Shark and Zeis cinemizers, what DJI is selling and also the Skyzone or even the Headplay goggles. We want to encourage people to join our meetup group and we are advocates for STEM education. At Ctrl.me we really want people to think about what’s happening for the future of drones because how we are using them today is not how we are going to use them in 5 years.

QGITS also spoke to one of the attendees at Ctrl.me Pac-Man maze race, Harry a freshman student at Crossroads for Arts & Sciences who does FPV racing, all sorts of drone stuff and cinematography. I asked him about his unique goggle headset and how he heard about the event.

“This is the Quanum goggles from Hobby King they sell two versions. One comes in a neoprene support glove but it’s $20 more. The goggles I have..comes great as is, all you have to do is buy the goggles which is $30. The receiver for the video is about $30 and the battery $10. So you get a really great product for just $70. I found Ctrl.me through my Dad and I discovered a whole world of drones and multirotors.” – Harry, student at Crossroads

Headset 1 headset 2

Learn more at Ctrl.me

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Virtual Reality Festival presented by 3opolis at the SoCal VR Expo

Virtual Reality Festival presented by 3opolis at the SoCal VR Expo

Aug 3, 2015

Virtual Reality Fest presented by 3opolis a community partner to the SoCalVR expo who was also a participating exhibitor with a booth at the tradeshow is a community organization that is designed to honor and put the spot light on the technologist, filmmakers and content creators out there who are pioneering the virtual future of the entertainment industry. VR Fest was also a presenting sponsor of the SoCal VR kickoff space-themed party prior to the main event this year. QGITS attended both the space-themed kickoff celebration as well as the conference at SoCal VR and met up with Christopher Crescitelli Founder of Virtual Reality Festival & Producer & Creative Director of 3opolis.

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QGTIS:  When is the next VR Fest and who can attend?

Christopher Crescitelli: The 1st official VR Festival tent pole event, will be Jan 6-9 which is during CES in Las Vegas. One thing that’s unique about the VR Fest is that it’s not only our festival but your festival as well. Meaning, we invite the general public and community to join us! It’s free to attend. We launched our touring initiative, the VR Lounge, a year ago as a pre-cursor to the festival so that people in the community and public can learn more about the VR Festival, who we are and what we do.

QGTIS: What can people see and do at VR Fest coming up Jan 6-9 at CES, Las Vegas?

Christopher Crescitelli: We will have multiple events in multiple locations around Las Vegas focused around the CES schedule. For example, night parties in the newest and hottest clubs on the strip, workshops and film screenings as well as a VR exhibits area and special creative art installations using virtual reality. It’s consumer facing yet also B2B. We are designed to be the first consumer live event 100% focused on virtual reality and the first program of it’s kind in the world.

QGTIS: What are some other projects or collaborations VR Fest has worked on?

Christopher Crescitelli: January 8th 2015 at CES we worked in partnership with the Extreme Tech Challenge at the Bellagio where we hosted their entire team through a cooperative event with the VR Festival and the VR Lounge. We are working with that team again this year. So we are excited to announce that collaboration and will be announcing the schedule in the weeks to come.

VR fest Photo by: sbe Entertainment Group

QGTIS:What has inspired you into virtual reality technology?

Christopher Crescitelli: I am very fortunate as a filmmaker to have worked with pioneers in the field at a very young age, so I have been working in 3D, 4D and virtual reality for about 20+ years. Those specialties have been a blessing in my career that allowed me to be on the front lines. During the 2D revolution I was working with one of the first 24P HD electronic cinematography solutions created by Panavision and George Lucas. And we made one of the very first movies ever to be shot in 2D 24P HD digital video. We also shot the first slow motion 24P HD shot ever back in the day. We were around when 3D started up again so I was working with the very 1st 3D television and first 3D gaming system. Then with virtual reality we are on the same track we are helping to build community and support the industry at large. We are also pioneering our own creative and technological pathways for our own projects.

More info and a message from Sir Richard Branson about the Extreme Tech Challenge:

Extreme Tech Challenge from Extreme Tech Challenge on Vimeo.

The Extreme Tech Challenge brings together targeted resources and world class advisors to help high-energy, wicked-smart entrepreneurs that are executing on big ideas. We aim to “lower the friction to your success” by providing exposure and capital to accelerate product and free infrastructure and other start-up boosters from world class vendors to scale. Importantly, we aim to have extreme fun along the way – the final pitch and feedback session will be held at Necker Island – with Sir Richard Branson as our special guest judge. Are YOU ready to give it your best shot?

Virtusphere at SoCal Virtual Reality Expo 2015

Virtusphere at SoCal Virtual Reality Expo 2015

Jul 30, 2015

At the inaugural SoCal Virtual Reality Expo & Conference with so many things to do, see and demo; however, one thing that stood out and you couldn’t miss at the exhibitors hall entrance was a very cool interactive completely full body immersion attraction called the Virtusphere. Attendees were able to not only try on an oculus rift headset but they were also able to immerse themselves into a virtual experience by physically walking through a virtual environment. Michael Douglas from Innersphere VR brought in and demonstrated the Virtusphere at SoCal VR 2015. Michael said,”It’s been around for about 10 years, military and colleges has purchased them but for the public they are no where to be found, they are too big and too expensive. So I travel around showing it at different conventions trying to promote virtual reality and motion.”

Check out this video with Michael Douglas demonstrating and talking some more about the Virtusphere with some help by Rudy Delgado a volunteer from SoCal VR conference.

To learn more about Virtusphere:

http://www.roadtovr.com/virtual-reality-virtusphere

http://virtusphere.com/

https://www.facebook.com/InnerSphereVR

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

Jul 29, 2015

NASA hosted a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) project at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California on Edwards Air Force Base. Media was invited to take a tour and attend a briefing to hear about the current status and objectives of the VIPR project. On panel were Paul Krasa, VIPR Project Manager, John Lekki, VIPR Principal Investigator; Jack Hoying from the U.S. Air Force & Volcanic Ash Environment Principal Investigator and also Cheng Moua, Armstrong VIPR Project Manager. QGITS had a chance to talk with some of the panelist after their discussion before taking a tour of the NASA Engine Shop and VIPR testing setup.

c17 Photo by: U.S. Airforce

Here is what some of the panelist from the NASA VIPR team had to say about the project:

NASA Photo (left): John Lekki, Jack Hoying, and Cheng Moua.

QGITS: What were some of the highlights discussed today.

John Lekki: What we were talking about here was an upcoming test that we are having, we are going to be introducing volcanic ash into an aircraft engine. The reason that we are studying volcanic ash is because it’s not really well understood what low concentration volcanic ash will do to an aircraft engine. We definitely know if there is a high concentration that you do not want to fly in it at all, it’s an issue. At low concentrations, there’s been a lot of difficulty in determining where the threshold should be, its all because we don’t have some control tests to do this at low concentration volcanic ash. So what we are going to be doing is introducing volcanic ash into an aircraft engine, it’s a military engine but it’s very similar to the engines that are used in civilian aircraft. We are going to be studying that and we have a number of measurement diagnostic and prognostic technologies on the aircraft engine. While the engine is being degraded by the volcanic ash we will try very closely to monitor what’s go on with the engine. So really what we are talking about is that we have a very interesting task, we are getting ready to do that. We know that it will help folks in making decisions if there is a volcanic eruption. How to utilize air space, when to close it, when to have it open and generally where you want to fly and not fly.

QGITS: Tell us about your role with the VIPR Project and what inspired you to work at NASA?

Cheng Moua: I’m one of the VIPR Project Managers at NASA Armstrong, we are responsible for the planning and conduct of the task. So a lot of the researchers bring their equipment out here and we are responsible for integration, planning and working with the airforce side to use their C-17 airplane. Our role at Armstrong is to plan the task, work out the logistics and make sure that whatever testing the researchers want done will be done to their specifications. We conduct tests here and using sensors to incorporate all of that into the engine airplane. So we work through all the planning and safety related issues to ensure it’s a safe test and successful test. And what has inspired me is going back to the old days the moon just being part of an organization of that caliber is always inspiring.

IMG_1333Photo: Volcanic ash being tested on the C-17.

QGITS: How do you feel about the VIPR project and how it’s helping the industry?

Jack Hoying: This project is great, it sounds maybe not so much because we are dealing with ash but the entire project from start to finish has been so interesting, learning how different it is and how to feed the simplest machine to feed it into an engine became extremely complicated. Every single thing that we did was a mini project in it of itself. The fact that we are going to be able help the industry, to help the military understand things..up until now this knowledge has been lacking. The policy guidance that exists in Europe and in the United States is just not where it needs to be. So the fact that we can now in a very careful control way put small amounts of ash into an engine for a long period of time for hours and hours. That’s the missing piece of information that we have, so its kind of exciting on the backend too because now we can help policy. We are not writing the policy, we are the researchers that give the data and that help the policy writers be able to write the new standards..’Can you fly close to the ash?’..’How long can you fly in the ash?’ VIPR is a great project.

From there we took a tour of the NASA Engine shop and the test setup which involves ground testing of a C-17 cargo transport plane.

IMG_1342 Photo: NASA F18 test engine for research

At the engine shop we were able to get up close with the engines used in the F18 and F15 to get a better understanding and visual of how the ash effects the airplane engines. I spoke with some of the technicians who work at the engine shop and Kevin Rohrer, Spokesperson for NASA Armstrong.

QGITS: What are some key take a ways from today’s tour?

Kevin Rohrer: There is two really key things we are doing with VIPR and the research that we are doing. The first is engine health monitoring of a jet aircraft knowing real time what an engine is doing. Also developing the multiple sensors that are put on jet engines moving in very harsh environments in extreme temperatures of hot and cold coming together. So the question is can you develop sensors to give you feedback and data real time? Second part is what happens when you actually ingest volcanic ash into a jet engine? We know from history there’s been several aircrafts that have experienced going through plumes of volcanic ash at various levels. What we don’t really know with any degree of confidence is how much ash causes what type of damage? We don’t know the why? We know that it could clog up engines, initially as the ash is going through an engine. It’s corrosive and could scrape even thought it’s a fine powder, it can degrade first parts of the fans on the engines. Once you go into the combustion chamber of the jet engine you have extreme heat of 1200 degrees and that heat would take the dust like volcanic ash and basically melt it and turns into a glass type of substance. So when it goes over some of the fans on the back part of the engine it could actually stick to it and that becomes a problem when you have to much accumulation you lose efficiency and you could possibly lose an engine.

IMG_1351IMG_1355 Photo (right): Rich, Technician at NASA Engine Shop and engine compressor in the shop to check out.

Kevin Rohrer: So what you will see on the animation video is the fan blades they are in front of the combustion chamber that’s where you will have the corrosion affect with the volcanic ash flowing over that we would expect it to etch and degrade those fan blades.

Check out the animation video Kevin mentioned and also VIPR time laspe video that was shown from the VIPR behind-the-scenes tour and briefing at NASA Armstrong:

More info provided by NASA Armstrong: NASA has partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Research & Technology, Pratt and Whitney, General Electric Aviation and Rolls-Royce Liberty Works on the VIPR project. Researchers from four NASA centers are involved in various aspects of research and testing – Armstrong, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

To learn more about the VIPR project:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/features/ground_truth.html

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/features/engine_health_monitoring.html

http://www.edwards.af.mil/news/story_print.asp?id=123453609

NASA’s aeronautics research:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/aeronautics/index.html

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Jul 6, 2015

During the weekend of July 11th and 12th, Southern California’s very own VR conference and expo (SoCal VR) is shooting for the stars – literally.

Developers, content creators, artists, engineers, and VR enthusiasts of all types will take part in a celebration of all things virtual. At the forefront of the event is an outer worldly theme, which looks to combines space exploration and virtual reality.

It all starts the evening of July 11, 2015 in Long Beach, California with a space-themed kickoff party.

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Doors open at 7pm. Shortly after people start arriving and have their drinks in hand, a special fireside chat panel discussion begin around 7:30pm. Speakers include a couple local space experts. Of those who will be there is Jacki Morie (Founder, Chief Scientist at All These Worlds).

As her Wikipedia page states, “Jacquelyn Ford Morie is an artist, scientist and educator working in the areas of immersive worlds, games and social networks. Until 2013 she was a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Creative Technologies. In 2013 she started a spin-off company called All These Worlds, LLC to take her work in virtual worlds and avatars to a broader audience.

jacki morie

Jacki Morie

According to a recent Motherboard interview, “All These Worlds, is currently working on virtual reality experiences for NASA that aim to ease the social and psychological difficulties of long term space travel. At the moment, NASA’s installing an early version of All These Worlds’ simulation at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.”

Since there’s a 40-minute delay in communication between Mars and Earth, subjects won’t be able to interact with people outside the experiment in real time, but the simulation will sync up with Earth once a day. This will allow family members to leave recordings of their avatars which the astronauts can then interact with, and leave their own recordings in response.

At the end of the summer, “a group of scientists and engineers” will participate in a year-long Mars simulation at the HI-SEAS Habitat in Hawaii. The test subjects in that experiment will use Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 to visit virtual worlds where they can visit art galleries, swim in coral reefs, and ski on a mountaintops.

Another speaker for the event is Liam Kennedy, Inventor of the ISS-Above. His device lights up and increases the flashing frequency when the ISS is nearby, allowing users to run outside and see the space station fly over in the sky above.

Liam Kennedy

Liam Kennedy

As the website for the ISS-Above describes, “the brains of the ISS-Above is a very small Single Board Computer called a Raspberry Pi. It’s like a regular computer that you have in your house – just a LOT smaller…The ISS-Above works with numerous add-ons display devices that light up / change color and/or displays information in some way.”

The project was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $17,000 – well above the orginial $5,000 goal. Now, the devices turns up a bars, parties, and events. There is even an installation in local cafe near that’s been there since November 27th 2013. Liam Kennedy has also created a new wearable option as well.

Liam Kennedy is now looking into putting 360 degree cameras in orbit and will discuss his thoughts on the powerful nature of allowing people to teleport themselves into space to look around.

Mike Murdock, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Otherworld Interactive, will also speak on the panel.  He has worked everywhere from a small, award-winning video production house to Microsoft Research (and consulting / freelancing in between) MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Interactive Media.

Mike Murdock

Mike Murdock

Murdock even helped develop the UX / UI and virtual reality designer for the Oculus Home app for Samsung GearVR while he was at Oculus. His recent project heavily revolve around space-related environments.

Now, Murdock is working on a wide variety of content at Otherworld Interactive’s. One of their early projects was Spacewalk; a exploratory virtual reality experience set in space. The viewer is an astronaut drifting around the International Space Station. Another experience named ‘GWC: Drop the Bass‘ is a lightly interactive virtual reality animation with funny spacemen who dance to intergalactic music.

Otherworld developed a classic twin stick shooter for Google Cardboard as well. Gamers become a member of the Galactic Wrecking Company (GWC) who has been called in to exterminate an immense horde of deadly, malfunctioning robots in outerspace. User get to blow them to bits while avoiding being crushed by their sheer numbers.

Starport, a two-player social experience for mobile VR, is another space-related game by Otherworld. Players get paired with a random player and join in a series of collaborative and competitive mini games – “destroy asteroids, build castles, make friends!” Mike Murdock will provide his thoughts on space and VR from a creative design perspective.

RSVP to the Kickoff Party here

 

Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project (July 12)

In continuation from the space-themed kickoff party, a VIP keynote will take place at the main SoCal VR event on Sunday, July 12. QGITS readers get an exclusive promo code to get them into this VIP talk.

Promo Code: vrspace

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-socal-virtual-reality-conference-expo-tickets-17219851038

The EndeaVR Project utilizes leading-edge imaging technology to film, photograph and LIDAR-scan the entire Space Shuttle Endeavour, resulting in the most comprehensive captures of a Space Shuttle interior ever assembled – the goal is to render ultra-res VR experiences by which individuals will be able to don eyewear such as the Oculus Rift, and walk or ‘fly’ through the Shuttle, able to ‘look’ anywhere, even touch surfaces and turn switches, via eventual haptic feedback gloves etc.

The EndeaVR Project

The all-volunteer project involves the most advanced capture systems available, and is being done by Academy Award-winning visual effects gurus from films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Hugo and others with participation by executives and developers with Oculus, Samsung, RED and NASA itself.

Executive Producer David Knight will show footage derived from the VR systems capturing the first comprehensive scoping of a Space Shuttle interior ever done, and talk about the plans for the new Air & Space Center being constructed in Southern California where all of it will be utilized. He will also discuss planning for a VR camera unit to go up on the International Space Station, a first and potentially revolutionary experience for everyone on the ground.

 

Matt Terndrup – I’m a virtual reality, wearables, and technology art journalist who focuses on emerging trends in the maker, hacker, and inventor cultures. I like to travel around from place to place researching what is being made. Twitter; Linkedin

Taking You Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project | SoCal VR 2015

Taking You Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project | SoCal VR 2015

Jul 5, 2015

Come down to the Institute for Innovation, University of California Irvine Sunday, July 12th for the debut of SoCal Virtual Reality Conference & Expo in Orange County. The event will bring together speakers, companies and individuals to discuss the VR space along with a day filled of fun immersive demos, giveways and more. To kickoff the event Sunday at 11am, entrepreneur, filmmaker & supporter of STEM education, David Knight CEO of Terbine will ‘Take You Inside a Space Shuttle’ with the EndeaVR Project. He will show footage derived from the VR systems capturing the first comprehensive scoping of a Space Shuttle interior ever done. Take a look at a sneak peak of some video footage from the project:

FEAT Socks Making Socks Fun | Support on Kickstarter

FEAT Socks Making Socks Fun | Support on Kickstarter

Jun 19, 2015

FEAT Socks is making socks awesome and fun. The company started in 2014 by Founder Parker Burr; Partners Taylor Offer and Elijah Grundel. They were undergraduate business students from the University of Massachusetts and began the company their senior year. While balancing 21 credit classloads, the three of them were able to sell over 15,000 pairs of socks and get into 45 retail stores! They just graduated and the business is still growing. FEAT Socks recently launched a Kickstarter campaign and have already raised over $11,000. QGITS had the opportunity to chat with one of the Partners, Taylor Offer to hear about their inspiring entrepreneurial success story of FEAT Socks and how they got started.

Feat Socks pic Photo by MassLive: Partners and founder of FEAT Socks, Taylor Offer, Parker Burr, founder, and Elijah Grundel with their products.

QGITS: The FEAT Socks brand makes wearing socks cool, how did you guys come up with the idea to sell socks?

Taylor: Actually my business partner Parker came up with it, we met the first day of class my senior year and he said I have this idea to sell socks. He already had a custom lacrosse uniform business called Promo Lacrosse where he would make custom jerseys and everyone kept asking him for custom socks for their jerseys. He realized instead of making 20 pairs of custom pair of socks for a team he could make pretty cool socks that could sell and make more of them. Parker told me that he had this idea and I said “Yea right, I don’t think people are going to pay $12 for a pair of socks.” So we said lets go try it, and we went out on campus where we set up a stand and sold over $1,500 worth of socks in just a couple hours..we sold out.

Check out their Kickstarter video:
Help back FEAT Socks reach their goal of $25K and donate here to support: www.kickstarter.com/projects/feat-socks

Did Batman Evolve From a Bat Dinosaur?

Did Batman Evolve From a Bat Dinosaur?

Jun 1, 2015

No, he didn’t.  Batman is a human as far as the iconic 1930s comic book series says.

However, more evidence that the non-fictional winged creatures known as birds evolved from dinosaurs has been uncovered recently in China.  Yi qi, which is Mandarin for “strange wing” is a small pigeon-sized dinosaur with bat-like wings and feathers.  Its fossils were discovered by a farmer in the Tiaojishan Formation of Hebei Province, China.  The fossils date to 160 million years ago, known as the Middle Upper-Jurassic Period.  Even though researchers speculate that the unique dinosaur may not have been an agile flyer, it provides a serious evolutionary clue as to how birds and bats came into existence.

 

The Yi Qi fossil that was discovered by the Chinese farmer.

The Yi qi fossil that was discovered by the Chinese farmer.

 

The researchers say that the findings show one of the evolutionary experiments in flight that lead to the existence of our current feathered friends.  Because of the dinosaur’s membraned wings, the paleontologists speculate that the creatured glided like a flying squirrel rather than like an agile bird.  Yi qi (pronounced “ee chee”) is especially unusual because of the rodlike structures that extended from the dinosaur’s wrists that were connected by soft tissue, features that were never before seen in any dinosaur fossil.

 

Yi qi's fossil shows bat-like wing structures potentially used for flying.

Yi qi’s fossil shows bat-like wing structures potentially used for flying and/or gliding.

 

The preserved specimen also showed the existence of feathers over the creature’s neck, humerus, and ulna.  Feathers and soft tissue were found along Yi qi’s forelimb and hindlimb.  The bat/bird-like dinosaur had a short snout and has been placed in the Scansoriopterygidae theropoda dinosaur group which means that it was essentially carnivorous but might have had some herbivore and insectivore qualities and was closely related to birds.

 

The three known members of the Scansoriopterygidae family.  (Photo credit: Nature)

The three known members of the Scansoriopterygidae family. (Photo credit: Nature)

 

While Yi qi may not have been Batman’s ancestor, “Holy bat logic!” it is still a rare, beautiful example of one of evolution’s many historical edits that gives us a more detailed look into our Jurassic past.

 

An artist's illustration of what the pigeon-sized dinosaur may have looked like.

An artist’s illustration of what the pigeon-sized dinosaur may have looked like.

 

For more information on this unique creature, check out:

Nature

Science News

 

Andrea Kuipers - I am a well versed, interdisciplinary scientist with a background in marketing, media, & journalism. I am currently finishing up degree number five at Cal State University Fullerton & working in a biochemical/biotechnology lab engineering proteins. Linkedin

Recent Loss of Ice in Antarctica Disturbs Earth’s Gravity Field

Recent Loss of Ice in Antarctica Disturbs Earth’s Gravity Field

May 26, 2015

Whenever I think of Antarctica melting, I can’t help but picture those awful end-of-the-world “movies” (notice the quotation marks) where one large piece of ice melts, a politician gets blamed, and suddenly a 400-foot tidal wave takes out California.  On May 21st, 2015 a paper was published by a team of scientists at the University of Bristol stating that there was a recent increase of ice loss from a formerly stable region in Antarctica.  While this may not have caused California to go underwater as films like 2012 would suggest, it was shown to disturb earth’s gravitational field, as recorded by a pair of satellites.

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) is a join mission of NASA and the German Aerospace Center.  The main purpose of the twin satellite operation is to measure changes in the earth’s gravitational field based on the fact that gravity is determined by mass.  Thus, a large sudden loss of ice in Antarctica would definitely be detectable by GRACE and it certainly was.  While GRACE can detect ice mass loss, it cannot detect ice mass movement.  Starting in 2010, changes in the Southern Antarctic Peninsula, the previous stable region of Antarctica, have been recorded using another satellite system, Cryo-Sat 2.

Cryo-Sat 2 is a mission of the European Space Agency that is dedicated to detecting ice.  The satellite was able to capture the dramatic events happening at Antarctica’s Southern Peninsula.  “There was nothing happening, and then, all of a sudden in the last five years, all of these glaciers started to send ice into the ocean,” says Bert Wouters, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol, UK, and an author of the study.

The scientists analyzed 5 years of data by the Cryo-Sat 2 and found that multiple glaciers along this peninsula have started to shed approximately 55 trillion liters of water into the ocean and an average of 4 meters of ice surface loss each year.  The scientists were able to rule out temperature and weather patterns as the source of the change which lead them to the culprit: warming oceans.

Ice shelves in the region have lost roughly 1/5 of their thickness in the last twenty years which has attributed to reducing the resistance force of the glaciers.  Unfortunately, most of the ice of the Antarctica Peninsula is in bedrock below sea level, which gets deeper inland.  This is a chief concern as even if the glaciers retreat, the warm water will just follow and lead to more ice melting.

To date, the glaciers have added approximately 300 cubic km of water to the ocean which is roughly 350,000 Empire State Buildings combined.  It may not have taken out California or New York City, but its effect and message is not to be taken lightly.  Dr. Wouters and his team will continue to collect data to see if they can determine just how much longer the thinning will continue.

Livingstone Island in the Southern Peninsula of Antarctica.

Livingstone Island in the Southern Peninsula of Antarctica.

 

For more information on this story, check out:

The European Space Agency 

Science Magazine

Andrea Kuipers - I am a well versed, interdisciplinary scientist with a background in marketing, media, & journalism. I am currently finishing up degree number five at Cal State University Fullerton & working in a biochemical/biotechnology lab engineering proteins. Linkedin