Peter Purganthofer, associate professor at the Vienna University of Technology, built an amazing project involving an Amazon Kindle, a computer with built-in webcam and a Lego Mindstorm robot.
The robot presses alternately the “next page” button on the Kindle ebook reader and the space button on the laptop. Thus, a computer program on the laptop takes a screenshot of the current page, which is subsequently converted into text using an OCR software. This way, one gets a DRM-free copy of an e-book “bought” at Amazon. Purgathofer states that due to Amazon’s e-book sales model, “The owner isn’t even an owner anymore but rather a licensee of the book”.
The video below shows the system in action. The overall machine is awesome. It reminds of designs for Rube Goldberg machines.
DIY kindle scanner from Peter Purgathofer on Vimeo.
Of course this is definitely not an efficient way to re-digitize an e-book. For example, the process could have been better automated using Kindle software and a screenshot tool directly on the computer. However, the goal was to make a noticable statement about copyright, eBook DRM and ‘ownership’ of eBooks. And to have fun playing with robots.
In South-East Asia, huge swarms of fireflies synchronously emit light flashes to attract mating partners. The underlying principle can be used to implement a robust and scalable distributed synchronization approach in wireless sensor networks.
AVR Z-Link Zigbee Nodes
In this work we implement the Firefly Algorithm on battery-powered low-cost wireless nodes to establish a time-triggered network with a global notion of time. This global notion of time is used by the protocol but also provides a service that can be used by real-time applications. The synchronized nodes perform a time-triggered communication, where the sending instant of each message is known a priori to all nodes. This enables the implementation of an energy-efficient low duty-cycle protocol, where sender and receiver units can be turned off during silent phases.
R. Leidenfrost and W. Elmenreich. Establishing wireless time-triggered communication using a firefly clock synchronization approach. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Workshop on Intelligent Solutions in Embedded Systems, pages 227–244, Regensburg, Germany, July 2008.