OpenROV

OutfitterThe Frontier

A quick note about this section

Our passion for designed objects is the direct result of our passion for well made things. We are always on the lookout for smart and well made products that are physical manifestations of a daring spirit of adventure; new ways of thinking about the world. Outfitter is where we share our current favourites along with a little window into how they came to be.

In the early grades of school, we learn about explorers. We hear about their journeys: how they traversed the Atlantic, pushed through heavy North Pole snow and planted their feet on new soil for the first time.

It all seems a little bit far away. The closest we come to being the first in anything is planting a profile on a new social network before our friends have. Exploration, real exploration is distant, if not another generation’s preoccupation.

Online however, there are pockets of people who think differently. They’re advocating for ‘citizen science’, people with non-science backgrounds, using the resources of the internet to explore their world and share the findings. David Lang and Eric Stackpole are two of these individuals and they want to turn anyone into an underwater explorer. They set out to build a small ROV and posted the design and schematics online for anyone to use and create software for. After fundraising on Kickstarter, they started selling the ROV for less than $1000, incredibly inexpensive in a market where ROVs can go over 10x that. It’s not just cheaper, its size is advantageous.

There are still underwater crevasses to explore, in places that larger crews with boats and bulky equipment could never traverse. Regular people, like you and me could be the first to see what’s below. All we’d have to do is venture out with our underwater robot friend and a laptop in tow. Onsite we’d connect OpenROV to a long wire, right to the USB port in our laptop. We’d set the robot into the water and watch as footage live-streamed into our laptop. OpenROV can descend close to 75 metres and the batteries last around 2 hours.

The duo is also created OpenExplorer, a website were citizen explorers can post their journey of exploration on a Facebook-like newsfeed layout. It’s intriguing to scroll through projects, see the steps of their journey and watch their discoveries in the livestream of their ROV. As the creators state, “We believe that ocean exploration shouldn’t require a research grant, it should require curiosity”. With a laptop and this small little robot, we can all be explorers. And with a two hour battery life, OpenROV will run out of speed right when it’s time for us to have a well deserved lunch.

helping hands

Giving Out Helping Hands

The inception story of the nonprofit, e-NABLE, which is little more than a year old demonstrates what happens when strangers meet and collaborate, their collective skills creating something revolutionary. It all started when American Ivan Owen shared a video of a mechanical hand he had made for a Steampunk convention. Across the world, in South Africa, a carpenter named Richard Van As saw it as a solution to his plight. He had lost a few of his fingers in carpentry accident. He reached out to Ivan, asking for his help. Ivan agreed and together they went to work on creating a prosthetic.

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Our First Venture

Ventures Update is a recurring feature that tracks the progress of one of our own creative projects. The inaugural Venture is the design and development of a Canadian Icon: The Tuque.

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today

Today’s Frontier

It's the hardness of the land that makes people soft. Newfoundland is an unforgiving landscape. It denies the pathetic fallacy, but at the same time reinforces an irrational love of the place.

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Forming Robots From DNA

Fighting cancer effectively means attacking only the effected cells. DNA Robots seem to show great progress.

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girls at lowline

Where There’s Sunshine Underground

Major cities are centres of construction. Condo after condo, new office towers, sports centres and more each take their own slice of the city, each evolving it and sharing it with their own footprint. Eventually, land runs starts to thin and we realize we've missed one important thing: public green space.

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project row houses

The Not-For-Profit Sculpture

Rick Lowe was creating political art, works infused with messages of social change. This is not new. Many artists have done it. From the likes of Shepard Fairey to Eugene Delacroix.

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Collaborative Ice Cream

Ice cream will never be the same. With flavours that include ‘Black Olive Brittle & Goat Cheese’, ‘Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons’ and ‘Toasted Coconut with Candied Macadamia Nuts’, an ice cream company is changing the way we think about this dessert. On Yelp, one customer wonders, “How do they pair such perfect flavours together?”

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Designing Dance

Itamar Kubovy believes that ignorance can be a powerful ally. The Executive Director of Pilobolus, a New York based experimental dance troupe, constantly works to redefine the company and how they approach their craft. In recent years they have paired up with non-choreographers to push the practice forward, working with dance outsiders like illustrator Art Spiegelman and illusionists Penn & Teller.

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The Humanity in a Factory Robot

Baxter is a red robot with two large arms and a screen featuring two eyes. "Not a week goes by when somebody doesn't comment to me”, told Jim Lawton, Chief Marketing Officer at Rethink Robotics, “‘Wow, I love working with your robot. They're so engaging and friendly and I just love the smile".

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quotidian record and player

What Does Data Sound Like?

Brian House effortlessly flows from data to code, artistic expression, music, and back again. This intersection of skill and understanding lends uniqueness and exacting clarity to his art. It's evident that only someone of his multifaceted nature could come up with his work; he is an artist who is helping us feel data.

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Align

Reimagining something familiar is one of the most ambitious things a designer can do. The chair is one of the most difficult of all. Despite the diversity of chairs out there, how can you improve on the basic design?

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seaboard by computer

Seaboard

One such instance is the Seaboard. What first looks like a wonky George Foreman grill turns out to be a musical keyboard. But unlike traditional pianos, all its keys are black and, even more unusual, they are made out of a malleable material. That makes the keys soft and creates a continuous playing surface. This […]

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Mini Mobile Robotic Printer

Jonathan Stein noticed something about printers. The ubiquitous devices that sit on our desks were, in fact, quite simple. In effect, he realized that it was just a box that moved from side to side and “printed” the document.

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Ototo

Kids these days. They play on iPads and iPhones tapping on fake birds in slingshots and skeuomorphic drums. Adults might lament and wonder if kids are gaining anything from all that tapping. Whatever happened to turning a cardboard box into a car?

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plumen 002

Plumen 002

“Don’t you think it’s strange”, comments Nicholas Roope, Founder and Design Director at Plumen, “that the lightbulb, an object so synonymous with ideas, is almost entirely absent of imagination?”

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estimote stickers

Estimote Stickers

We’ve all heard of wearables, but nearables might be the next device that empowers your life.

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map notebook

Best Made Map Notebook

Here’s a question: are you still discovering a neighbourhood if Google Maps is acting as your real-time guide?

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Myo

“No, you can’t be Magneto.” What a 20th century thing to say. The creators of Myo may have brought that power one step closer.

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an american diary

An American Diary

In the Summer of 2014, Anthony Gerace embarked on road trip across America, armed with a map and 2 film cameras—a Hasselblad c/m 500 and a Yashica T4. What he captured on his journey feels both entirely familiar and strangely foreign. That combination felt like a perfect fit as we were gathering content for this first issue of Field Guide.

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power of frontiers

The Power of Frontiers

It was as a 27­year­-old news reporter that I found myself in one of the most remote communities on earth, seeking out a few of the most adventurous, downright badass guys anywhere.

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