Recent lists... view all »
oobject: 'daily user-ranked gadget lists'
The history of the pressure suit from its origins in the 30s for high altitude pilots to space missions is one which perfectly encapsulates (no pun intended) all of the aspects of product design from craft to science. Aesthetically, the first pressure suit, created by the aviator Wiley Post in 1934, looks more like a deep sea diving one, just as deep sea diving inspired the fictional aesthetic for robots and space men, until the space race. But the Post suit is where the two design styles diverge, culminating in the Apollo mission suits which were produced in craft fashion by the seamstresses of bra manufacturer, Playtex after their proposal outperformed those submitted by engineering contractors.Pressure suits don’t need to be air tight, apart from the helmet, because human skin is, they just need to be tight to stop your skin swelling. Those worn by pilots are usually different from astronauts, who also have to wear external layers of reflective insulation (separated by intermediate layers of non heat conducting material, exactly like modern loft insulation) and a protective skin against micro-meteors and abrasive dust. As well as all fabric pressure suits, there are rigid or partially rigid ones, such as some of the moon walk prototypes or space walk (EVA) ones which are hybrids of a rigid torso and flexible limbs. EVA and moon walk suits have a life support system as a backpack, while astronauts often carry theirs like a suitcase, as a backup in case cabin pressure fails.

pressure suits

The interior and exterior of wind tunnels have unusual design requirements that often make them accidental architectural masterpieces.Wind tunnels range from the miniature wooden box that the Wright brothers used, to the gigantic full scale tunnel at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley which drains the power supply for the entire Bay Area, and tests actual planes and space craft. Air speeds within them can reach tens of times the speed of sound, requiring super heated air.All in all, they are definitely object to go ooh about.

Spectacular Wind Tunnels

Movies originated from animated still images, either through a rotating slit (zoetropes), a faceted mirror (praxinoscopes) or a rotating drum with flip cards in the case of the mutoscope. Here are some sample videos of the machines themselves, from antiques to modern day installations based on them.

12 moving image machines

Innovations in lighting design are often gimmicky or merely a case of LED everywhere. This list illustrates where lighting is sculptural and integral to architecture, from a night club made of glowing bricks, Daniel Libeskinds wireframe architectural chandelier, the amazing Lighthive exhibition at the Architectural Association and futuristic light sculptures by Kalle. Our LED example creates a grid of LED points that appear to float in mid air.

17 architectural light sculptures

Heart rate monitors connected to an ink plotted graph are a staple of movies and TV and they usually come in beautiful portable versions by companies such as Lafayette Systems, making them a classic spy suitcase gadget.Polygraph lie detectors are widely believed to be useless quackery, no more effective than a Scientology Dianetics machine, but they are commonly used by law enforcement and government agencies, usually in the US and are an anachronistic cultural legacy of the cold war.Today, the classic analog polygraph is being replaced by much less interesting computer versions.

10 Vintage Analog Lie Detectors

oobject header image

wtf is that? #16

October 22nd, 2009 #link


There is a whole history behind these things – what’s it all about?

16 Responses to “wtf is that? #16”

  1. admin Says:

    BTW, this is difficult. If nobody gets close, I’ll post a clue later.

  2. Bradley Says:

    I’m going to guess it’s some kind of signal generator like a Wein Bridge Oscillator. I’d have a better guess if I could read the dials, but then that would be too easy.

  3. thomas Says:

    it’s some kind of radiation detector. Or maybe it measures it?

  4. Todd Says:

    It’s a Dr. Pepper can. Geez, that one was easy.

  5. admin Says:

    OK, the clue is that this machine could in theory work as well if it were made of paper.

  6. olaf Says:

    Ok, I think this device is some kind of medical-placebo. Connected to the machine it is easy for me to imagine a “energy” floating through my body if the doctor plays very serious with the buttons.

  7. tony d Says:

    Is this an early Scientology E-meter?

  8. admin Says:

    @tonyd – that’s getting warm, although these devices could look be anything, not just an E-meter. This is just one example.

  9. supermarketsong Says:

    A vintage fake ikea decoration item? :p

  10. supermarketsong Says:

    A vintage ikea fake decoration item? :p

  11. ยต_d Says:

    looks like a real life reproduction of an item from the game bioshock…

  12. Albedo Says:

    Quack medicine… A violet ray machine minus its wands?

  13. Albedo Says:

    OK, maybe not a violet ray machine.. An ECT machine? A control panel from a Ring-King Junior?

  14. biziclop Says:

    Is it a movie prop?

  15. xoxoxoBruce Says:

    That’s the meter L Ron Hubbard used to prove plants feel pain.

  16. admin Says:

    OK – like I say this one is extremely tricky.

    Its one of the few images around of a Hieronymous machine, a hypothetical device which works by ‘analogy’. In other words, the idea is that you build something that looks like a working machine and it can behave like the real thing through the power of the mind. It s a sort of sci-fi equivalent of cargo cult objects.

    The reason this WTF is so tricky is that because this is insane and because the devices don’t have to work in the conventional sense, they can look like anything. A Hieronymous machine could look like the device above, which is a genuine attempt, or a paper cutout.

    Nonetheless, its a fun and weird concept.

  17. biziclop Says:

    It’s not just insane, it’s patented!