F1 in Singapore Simulation




Singapore hosted the first ever night-race in the Formula One in 2008, and AixSponza has an excellent animated reel showing the road-track that will bring F1 drivers around iconic architectures in downtown Singapore. I’ve always thought that street tracks are a lot more romantic than purpose-built racing tracks – typical track racing gives me a much more sterile impression, while street races feel a lot more immersive (and I comment from my very qualified experience founded upon years of video arcade & racing simulation games).

The pictures above are just some stills from the reel, showing its quality quite impressively.  No further ado:

Instant Mona Lisa

Well the Mythbusters point was to illustrate the difference between CPU and GPU processing (graphics hardware terminology) and how GPU being parallel-processing would be much faster. But that doesn’t really matter, because all you need to see in this video is how they INSTANTLY painted with a massive array of paintball barrels all lined up and programmed to shoot a colored ball at specific locations.

Jump to 8:00 if you’re impatient:

Photorealistic Animation

I think we are on the verge of surpassing the what animators term as the ‘uncanny valley’:

For many years now, animators have come up against a barrier known as “uncanny valley”, which refers to how, as a computer-generated face approaches human likeness, it begins take on a corpse-like appearance similar to that in some horror films.

As a result, computer game animators have purposely simplified their creations so that the players realize immediately that the figures are not real.

The animation above is being done by Image Metrics (who are behind popular computer/video game Grand Theft Auto). We’re still not able to do this on-the-fly. Massive amounts of computations are required to calculate and control every little movement – every little twitch of the eye, the sneer, the muscles that contracts under the skin, etc.

But with chip technologies and architecture developing, it’s certainly not a pipe-dream to envision some day in the very near future where this becomes common place. What does it mean for us in the real world when we cannot distinguish the real from the fake? At a massive, ubiquitous level?

Really amazing animation – check out Times Online for a more comprehensive article.

Shadow Signage


The sign is discreet – not too common for a marque bearing the name of a tourist-attracting business like a hotel. But that’s how this hotel in Florence, Italy roll. A faint spotlight at the top of the wall casts light upon what we usually see as an awkward ensemble of wires and voila – the name of the hotel is spelled out in the shadows on the stucco facade.

Subtle art!

Jenga on Buildings

Wow, that’s way cool – demolishing a building from the lowest level first:

How do they do it? First they replace the support pillars at ground level with computer-controlled metal columns. Then, a crew carefully demolishes the entire floor by hand, leaving the structure resting on the mechanical pillars, which then go down slowly until the next floor is at ground level. They replace the support pillars again with the mechanical ones, destroy that floor, and repeat the operation until they get rid of all the floors. This makes it look as if the building is shrinking in front of you, or being swallowed by the street.

According to the company, this method greatly reduces the environmental impact of the demolition, as well as the time. Kajima says that it speeds up the task by 20%, while making it easier to separate materials for recycling, as well as reducing the amount of products released into the air.

I suppose a method like this would also work very well in a congested urbanscape like Tokyo. The marvels of engineering!

[via Gizmodo]

Steel Truss ‘Lego’s


Perhaps I should count myself deprived, or maybe just too young or something – when the NYTimes reported on artist Chris Burden constructing a 65-foot tower using stainless steel modular pieces, I was in awe. I’ve never seen or heard about these metal trusses before – and thought ‘Wow, these are like LEGO for grown-up engineers or something”.

It’s inspiring to see these basic building blocks stretched right to its limits:

“The fact that it is both a model and the height of a real building is bizarre,” she said. “It is simultaneously right and wrong from a traditional building perspective. And so it starts to play tricks on you.”

The pieces he used were stainless steel replicas of a toy commonly known as ‘Erector Set’s, which to my surprise was launched almost a hundred years ago back in 1913, and created history by being the very first toy to be advertised nationally.


Wish we’d see more (resurgence) of toys like these. Open-ended, as-challenging-as-your-imagination, and probably encourages kids (and adults!) to take interest, understand and marvel at engineering and construction ideas.

I need to play more.

See the Worlds Highest Resolution Camera in Action

The worlds highest resolution camera is currently in development to be used as a video surveillance system. This technology, ARGUS array, developed by DARPA, features an unbelievable 1.8 Gigapixels. This is accomplished by combining hundreds of imaging sensors in an array and capturing the streaming video in real time. The video is stored and transmitted at the same time so it can be searched and analyzed later. We are not given all the details since much of this is classified, however, the video shows off some of the capabilities such as seeing objects as small as 6 inches from 17,000 feet (5180 Meter).

BMW GINA Concept


BMW has just unveiled their latest concept called GINA Light Visionary – GINA being an acronym for their design philosophy behind: Geometry and Functions In ‘N’ Adaptations (I suppose GINA sounds cooler than GIFNA?). At my first glance, I thought it was not too radical – the initial impression was a concept that was probably a sportier extension of the Mille Miglia concept unveiled back in 2006.

But after going through the video (in Youtube above), I realized it was a rather radical and refreshing perspective of automotive design – this may yet be a watershed in automotive styling. BMW has always been experts in dealing with expressive surfaces (that are often sharply ‘clipped’), with one of their master strokes being the iconic negative curvature found along the sides of many of its sportier cars. But I think in GINA they re-thought the whole tradition of car body designs.

In typical automotive designs, you have a certain structure on which you add metallic panels on. You can style these panels in as many ways as there are cars on market now – but they are generally all seen as panels. The associated possible actions are linked to traditional metal sheet forming technologies – bending, rolling, cutting, etc., as the automotive designers think of themselves as sculptors, adding or coring away extra ‘clay’.

In GINA, instead of hard panels, the body is conceived more like a soft skin wrapping against a skeleton body. While it may very well be made of metal panels eventually just like any other cars, the important thing is at the design level, the ‘skin’ metaphor brings out a whole set of different analogies and thus designs – you’re thinking about creases, pinching, pricking, etc. Design is thus by growing and subtracting the inner skeleton (which then defines the creases). I particularly liked the quote by Chris Bangle in the video: “…let’s let material talk in a different manner; and let the tooling be a different issue, instead of just a way to give us form.


There are some other interesting features enabled by such a skin too: for example, there can be a continuous line on the sides, with the door creasing and folding away rather than opening/lifting. It could also consume less resources to build and drive, since the fabric would probably be lighter and require less manufacturing energy. Imagine also the possibility of changing the profile of your car exterior at a whim – in a fabric concept, it may be as simple as pressing a knob to rotate or shift the underlying skeleton.

It reminds me of Gehry’s Guggenheim too – which was for architecture another conceptual breakthrough: where technology has grown to such sophistication that we can in fact produce a building not by ‘ground-up’, ‘level-by-level’ structure which is then clad by facade. Instead, the building was defined much by its skin itself, its transformations and its refreshing organic lines.

In a way, I also felt it made the car more organic – it’s almost like a silent…monster. As it lifts it eyelid, the head lamps project its vision menacingly ahead; the unveiling of the bonnet reminds me of open-heart surgery; makes me think about Toyota’s ‘Human Touch’ ad too (haha both are somewhat creepy).

Overall, I must say this is one of the most refreshing and innovative concept cars that I’ve come across these years. There are many concept cars that are wild, interesting, etc. but I thought the GINA managed to tackle car design in a whole new perspective, while inheriting the qualities that make it a BMW.

Bravo to the design team!

(And if you’re the essay type, here’s their philosophy (wall-of-text!))