Clever app-controlled analog split-flap display for your home or office


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/12/clever-app-controlled-analog-s.html


#2

I was going to say “I could make this for way less than $1800” but it has 161 characters, which puts it at about $11 per character, and I’m not sure I could get it that low.


#3

How much professional dog walking could you get for $1800?


#4

It’s awfully twee, but I could see the appeal for a trendy cafe or at high-traffic junctions on a college campus. I would hope the software allows integrations with twitter and RSS feeds, and isn’t locked down to manual entries in their app.

And the short video for one bit showed colored “pixels,” I’d like to see a demo of those in action. Not sure I could justify one for home use like the promo video, though.


#5

It’s really not a bad price for that much hardware. If it was reasonably hackable, I could see the potential for a lot of interesting projects.


#6

Those things were so cool when they reset for a new message. I think they’d quickly flip everything to blank, then flip each position to the correct character one by one.


#7

I love it, but I don’t love it $1800 much.


#8

I’m a sucker for spending hundreds of euros on useless gadgets that then rot in my drawer but 1800$ is a bit rich for my taste.


#9

I feel like I could animate that with a bit of CSS, if I weren’t so tired.


#10

Stop, I was already sold from the video alone!


#11

I can see a wall sized application of this idea. Perhaps by ganging up the 3’ boxs ala video wall.

A schedule board that was used at the Guangzhou train station in China (1990ish) made an impression on me a few years back. It was a huge structure that spanned probably apprx. 30’ x 15’ made of wooden split-flaps and rotating beams with text on the sides. The well worn wood looked like it had been stained by years of cigarette smoke, grease and coal pollution. It was constantly in motion and made a distinct wood block sound when updated. Sadly, a quick image search shows they are using digital boards now.


#12

I’ve always heard “If you build a better Rolodex, the world will beat a path to your door.”

And it will punch you in the face and hand you a whiteboard.


#13

In the days before cheap high intensity LEDs some traffic signs used what we called flippydots. These were chunky pixels built as coin sized sheets with black on one side and fluorescent green on the other side. An electromagnet behind each dot could be used to flip it between its two stable states, probably by reversing the current through the magnet. This gets me thinking about a smaller version, possibly built more like an Abacus, with little beads on little wires. You need more pixels than digits but the component count on each digit is pretty high on this design.

It would be neat, I think, if I could drive it from google home.


#14

Unlike LEDs, the signs would remain “on” during a power failure. The highway dept people considered that a plus for LEDs, as they preferred no message over a message that might be out of date.


#15

Yeah the alternative at the time would have been fibre optic signs, with halogen light globes behind them. And they would fail in a similar way to LEDs (except more often).


#16

“Analog” doesn’t seem to be a word that applies here.

Control: The characters are app-controlled - digital through some API
Actuation: I’m guessing servomotor. Even if not, it’s probably also digitally controlled. D/A converters are costly.
Output: There are more than two states for the bit, but it’s still discrete, not continuous. So not strictly “digital”, but not analog either.

Sure it’s retro, but it’s probably not analog.


#17

Hey, welcome to Boing Boing - even if you CAN’T get it that low! :grinning:


#18

I bet there is a web site or app that does much the same thing. Nope not gonna search for it.
So now buy your standard 1080p LED at roughly 45" diagonal and spend 1/10th as much. Maybe a usb stick to connect to your phone or computer and VIOLA!

Oh you want clickety switches and mechanical gizmos? Enjoy!


#19

“relating to or using signals or information represented by a continuously variable physical quantity such as spatial position”

In this case, the variable spatial position of axles of the individual flippy paddles. I think this is analog, very much so.


#20

Just drinkin’ muh coffee, appreciatin’ muh Vestaboard in the mornin’. Like ya do.