This is just great. Thanks to OpenKinect Piano, these guys have hacked Microsoft Kinect to create a giant (virtual) keyboard on the floor, which you can play with your feet.
The best part? They’ve replicated the famous scene from 1988′s Big where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play “Heart and Soul” in FAO Schwartz.
(Start the first video at around 1:03).
If you want to see more great Kinect hacks, I encourage you to check out Slate’s video slideshow “Hands-free Hackers” which shows some great ones including Minority Report style Web browsing, etc.
Today I saw Star Trek for the second time. (I thoroughly enjoyed the film both times).
While it is generally not one of those movies from which one gleans new insights after a second viewing (the plot is pretty straightforward, for example), today I found myself struck by one particular shot: young Jim Kirk, still an Iowa town boy, gazing up at a partially constructed starship as he contemplates joining Starfleet.
While it is a formative moment for Jim’s character, what was most interesting to me was the notion that in the future USA– where we find ourselves leading innovation in spaceships and not, say, automobiles– that we will be doing so in Iowa.
In some ways, it makes total sense to me: rural Midwestern America has been seeing a steady depopulation for a while now. Where else could we find enough (inexpensive) land to build a 1,200-foot space ship? Some states now even offer financial incentive to college graduates who settle back in their home state (rather than accelerate both depopulation and brain drain). Other states are opening up to take former prisoners from Guantanamo.
There is, in short, plenty of space but fewer and fewer people.
When I took Prof. Richard White‘s “History of the North American West” as the last course in my major this spring, he floated the prediction that we’d someday soon see the heartlands of America filled with solar panels. It’s not a crazy idea: already, we see that Iowa passed California as the nation’s second-largest wind power producer (behind Texas). And it would be a smart way for those states to use their best asset– cheap, flat land– to provide a valuable commodity (namely, electricity) to the rest of the country.
And in general, it all fits with the idea that in between the coastal states we have lots of middle-of-nowhere flatness, corn fields in their neat rows extending out for as far as the eye can see.
But that one day may change. It could very easily soon be acres of solar panels or wind turbines covering large swaths of the land…or, if you wait long enough, even a hangar for the next USS Enterprise.
Tags: automobiles, brain drain, california, cars, corn, corn fields, depopulation, fields, guantanamo, iowa, jim kirk, midwest, richard white, rural, solar, solar energy, solar panels, space, star trek, texas, USA, wind, wind turbines