Judging by the audience’s reaction, people who visit the New York Tech Meetup want to draw in new dimensions, talk to dinosaurs, and make their friends pay money if they are chronically late to events.
Those were a few of the extremely varied demos (see slideshow) presented this week at the monthly gathering for new ideas in technology. While there was no common element to neatly tie them all together, there were several familiar faces.
Voodoo Manufacturing, for instance, talked up its Brooklyn-based factory that uses a fleet of desktop 3D printers for mass production. Shareablee, seen at last month’s NYTM Women’s Demo Night, brought its social media insights to the stage.
Mental Canvas, which also presented at Women’s Demo Night, though led the audience on Tuesday into a digital realm where two-dimensional drawings can become 3D scenes to be explored.
Developed from some 10 years of research in her lab, Julie Dorsey, computer science professor at Yale, said Mental Canvas is an overdue evolution of sketches and drawings. “While computer technology has revolutionized text, photography, and music, drawing has largely remained unchanged,” she said.
Software to create digital drawings has been around for quite a while, but Dorsey said those program typically try to simulate drawing on paper, with a few added features such as panning and zooming. Mental Canvas lets artists pull out elements of their two-dimensional creations to give them visual depth and perspectives not seen before. Different points of view can be explored, which could be used in architectural drawings, Dorsey said.
A digital illustrated book, “The Other Side” by Istvan Banyai, uses Mental Canvas to create interactive pages that show different takes on the same scene. For instance, a pool can be seen from both above and below the surface of the water. Mental Canvas will be available to the public “soon” Dorsey said, and she believes there are many ways the software could open the door for new methods of design. “Drawing is basic to exploring ideas, creating new knowledge, and design new products,” she said.