Hugo Liu, a graduate student at M.I.T.'s Media Lab, has developed a cookbook that can recommend a dish on the basis of some of the tastes and emotions commonly associated with it. An artificial intelligence robotic reader reads each recipe and based on tastes of the ingredients and the types of cooking procedures, predicts how a food will look, taste, and smell.

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Synesthetic Recipes (PDF) is indexed according to 5,000 ingredients and 400 cooking procedures. But it can also be searched according to terms that range from the descriptive ("silky") and the playful ("aha") to the referential ("Popeye") and the temperamental ("brooding").

First, the M.I.T. researchers mined sources such as online food sites, records of the culinary historian Barbara Ketcham Wheaton and a catalog of thousands of simple statements (like "butter tastes rich"). They then cross-referenced this information and combined it with a web bank of recipes. Their task essentially amounted to programming a computer with the knowledge that, for instance, a soufflé is ethereal because it's fluffy, that it's fluffy because it's made with well-aerated egg whites and that whipping egg whites aerates them.

Video.
Via The Year in Ideas, The New York Times.

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Burn Station is a mobile self-service for searching, listening to and copying music and audio files with no charge. It is completely legal, released under an open licence, and non-commercial.

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The kit behaves as a digital content self-service station. It is a local database for mp3 and text that makes automatic the process of selection and burning of files. With the motto "taking the Internet to the streets" platoniq tries to make visible the ways in which the Web is produced showing its very modes of independent diffusion and distribution based on open licenses.

By platoniq, activists of the copyleft movement.

The work has been nominated for the Transmediale 2006 award.
Via networked_performance.

What I Did Last Summer is an experimental graphic novel generated by blogbot, a software agent that generates graphic novels based on text harvested from web blogs. It uses cached versions of the My War blog (written by a US soldier in Iraq) and the Baghdad Blogger.

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The protagonists of What I Did Last Summer are military and civilian units from the game Civilization 3. Blogbot crawls the web and takes snapshots of web blogs related to a user-specified theme. Then, based on the harvested text, a dynamic collage of images and strings is generated using a keyword-matching algorithm.

By Alex Dragulescu.

Cynthia Bruyns's Vibration Lab is a software designed to simulate the sound of any percussive instrument, real or imagined, in a computer. The system could someday enable musicians to play instruments that exist only on the screen, enable the design of new physical instruments, and boost the realism of virtual environments for education and training.

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"Every object's sound comes from the way it's vibrating, and every object vibrates differently depending on its shape and material," says Bruyns, a Berkeley graduate student. "Instruments like violins are shapes that have been perfected over many years to produce a certain tone."

The software enables users to take a computer-generated 3D model of a complex object and bang it with a virtual stick to hear how it vibrates. For example, thin and flat metal objects sound very different from thick, curved wooden instruments.

Beginning with a 3D model, Vibration Lab adds mass and stiffness properties that mimic the characteristics of a real material like wood or bronze. The frequencies of the object are then calculated. Users can then "strike" the object in various places by hitting keys on an electronic piano keyboard connected to the computer using a standard digital music interface.

Via Boingboing < Lab Notes.

Modulobe, by Kouichirou Eto et al., is a free software tool for constructing virtual creatures.

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[Sample creatures made with Modulobe.]

Download from here

Eto is a highly techno-savvy artist, who made significant contributions to successful projects including Music Plays Images X Images Play Music (with Toshio Iwai and Ryuichi Sakamoto) and Sensorium -- I remember his name as the author of the software patch for making LambdaMOO work with Japanese 2-byte character codes.

Modulobe is a simulation system that allows users to easily create and share virtual creatures by combining so-called "modules." The composed creatures and the world they inhabit operate based on the law of physics.

You can find creatures contributed by users here:
- Animals with many legs
- vehicles
- realistic
- insect-ish

Like Takeo Igarashi's work on Teddy (a sketching interface for 3d freeform design), modulobe could make it a lot easier for end-users to create animated 3d models. I'd think something like Modulobe can be used as an educational tool for young kids as well.

Modulobe is a project in Fluid Information Design Group at National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). Contributors include: Kouichirou Eto, Kuniaki Watanabe, Takashi Maekawa, Yoshinori Kawasaki, and Minoru Sakurai.

Japanese aerial survey firm Pasco Corp. will soon begin selling software that shows on a computer screen the safest route home from a person's workplace as well as the distance he will have to travel on foot when transportation service is disrupted due to a major earthquake.

The software, which covers the 23 wards of Tokyo, will also indicate the degrees of danger for various areas using different colors and point out the locations of emergency evacuation points, convenience stores, hospitals and public facilities that distribute water and offer other help.

Via Nikkei.

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