We tend to turn to universities when we want to cover emerging tech, but what's going on in the DIY Scene? They're meeting our century's retro quota, playing NES. With their eyes. Engineering collective Waterloo Labs, based
in Austin, TX, has developed a way to play Super Mario Brothers with their eyes, using electrodes and an a single-board RIO platform.
eyeMario allows users to control Mario's movements by looking left and right, make him jump while looking up.
How does it work? Electrodes are placed around the eyes, measuring the positive and negative electrons emitted by different eye movements. These bursts are translated by the RIO board into what amounts to cursor controls.
Unfortunately, while eyeMario makes it possible to play NES with your eyes, you still have to clean the cartridges the old fashioned way, by blowing in them.
The future has its limitations, after all.
Waterloo Labs' past projects include driving a car with an iPhone and playing Half-Life with shovels.
Chris Anderson's “Atoms are the New Bits” has given increased attention to the wonders coming out of the DIY scene, which dates back in its current iteration to San Francisco's Survival Research Labs in the late 1970s.
Moore's Law and attendant metaphors are continually driving down the overhead needed to invent new things. As such, it releases innovation from the restrictions of the corporation and university (and the entities funding the research).
It will take time for things like Waterloo Labs to become totally autonomous entities, but what they are doing leads us to agree with Anderson's sub-thesis that the resources needed for innovation on the hardware side – the expensive part – will be increasingly leaked into the hands of private individuals, which will add tremendously to the acceleration of innovation cycles.