June 2008

Inventor Portrait: James Delaney

June 11, 2008

The first in an ongoing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: James Delaney
Invention: Trampoline Sensor MK II
Patent: Pending

James Delaney built his video game controller prototype out of a trampoline, LEGOs, and a few electronic components. Here is James with his invention. Scroll down to see video of the Trampoline Sensor MK II in action.

The trampoline is sensitive to even slight movements, and James has written a few programs to demonstrate its capabilities. For example, he demonstrates how it can be used to control a character walking, running, and jumping. It can be used to control a Space Invaders style game (lean to stear, and jump to shoot). It’s quite fun. Here’s a video of the trampoline in action:

Here’s what James had to say about the invention:

“My wife, Nyssa, asked me to get her a mini trampoline as a gift. After about a week of using it, she said it was getting boring. Then she asked if it could be hooked up to a video game. I figured that this would be easy. It turned out to be a little harder than I imagined. The biggest obstacle was finding one sensor that would be capable of detecting running, jumping, bouncing, leaning, and tapping on the rebounding surface. I tried many different sensors, including accelerometers and sonar sensors before deciding to make a sensor using potentiometers. The accelerometer would have been my second choice of sensor but it required too much signal processing to get usable data during trampoline use. The next problem was interpreting the data from the sensors during each of the states I wanted to detect. This was solved by hours of experimentation, calibration and analyzing data.”

James’ website: UnfocusedBrain.com

Inventor Portraits: Introduction

June 9, 2008

[Kicking off an ongoing series of inventor portraits]

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. I’m interested in the rest of the family.

Readers of my other blog, Ironic Sans, know that I’m fascinated by ideas. In fact, I started Ironic Sans largely as a place for me to share the ideas I knew I would never act on because they’re either too expensive, too difficult, or too ridiculous.*

Of course, everybody gets good ideas, but not everybody writes them down before they’re forgotten. And fewer still actually take their ideas to the next level. With this photo series, I’m exploring who those people are. Who are the inventors who get an idea and actually take out a patent, or find a manufacturer?

I’m interested in low budget inventors who build things in their basements, and professional inventors who churn out patent after patent. Some inventions are silly. Others may change the world. I’ve brought my project to various inventors groups in search of subjects to photograph, and met a lot of interesting people with big ideas. In this photos series, I’ll showcase as many inventors as I can, and perhaps discover something about inspiration in the process. I’m also enamored by patent illustrations, so whenever possible I will include them as well.

*One of my most popular posts on about inventions on Ironic Sans was this list of celebrity patents. Who knew?!

Starting a new blog

June 3, 2008

Today I begin writing a new blog. This is a place for me to write about work I’m doing, including personal projects and commissioned work, and to highlight other people’s projects that inspire me.

That’s me over on the right. For several years, I was the only staff photographer at Polo Ralph Lauren. Before that, I was a staff photographer at Christie’s auction house. I recently decided to leave the world of staff photography to pursue more creative and personally rewarding projects as a freelancer, and I haven’t looked back.

Also of possible interest: A couple years ago I realized that I needed an outlet for my creative thoughts that weren’t photography related, and I created Ironic Sans as a place to purge those thoughts. At Ironic Sans I write about culture, design, creativity, and ideas about things as I see them through my eyes. I expect there may be some overlap between the two blogs, but I invite you to take a look for a better sense of who I am creatively when I’m not behind a camera.

If you’d like to contact me with any questions, professional or otherwise, please drop me a line.