Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Rise of "eSports"

The Rise of "eSports"

When you ask yourself "What is a sport?" you would usually picture burly men playing football or people running around throwing a ball into a hoop, but the recent and extreme explosion in the popularity of video games has brought about a whole new phenomena, eSports. (Around 1.2 billion people or around 1/7 of the world's population play video games with 700 million people that play online games).

So what is an eSport?
An eSport is short for "electronic sport" which in other words means competitive video gaming. Typically the competitions are for multiplayer games that can range from first-person shooter games to 3rd person real-time strategy games (MOBAS).

Image result for league of legends
(League of Legends a popular 3rd person real-time strategy game)
Image result for csgo
(CSGO a popular multiplayer first-person shooter game)

What makes video games a sport?
This topic for many online is a controversial one, but in many ways eSports are very similar to regular sports. Each game has professionals and teams owned by organizations which are sponsored by companies such as Intel or Nvidia etc.
Image result for csgo teams
These professionals then perform in front of an audience/crowd to win a competition for money and a trophy. Sound similar yet? There are even casters and analysts for the competitions. Players owned by teams have contracts and can be traded around for money like drafting in hockey. Professionals train just like athletes, up to 7-8 hours a day everyday.

What makes it different?

Well first off, sports such as baseball and such have been around for centuries/decades while games such as the Counter Strike series have been around for at most a decade which means that most professionals are relatively young with the oldest being around 30 and the youngest being around even 14 years old with most staying around the late teens to early 20's. These players can have up to 14,000 hours spent training/playing this game which is a lot considering the age of these players.
Most of the views from eSports are mostly from online streams and videos rather than the television.
While this "sport" is not physically strenuous or challenging compared to most other sports, this activity requires an extreme amount of quick-thinking, strategy, reflexes etc.

Image result for esports

eSports and its exponentially growing industry

-eSports is of such importance in South Korea that they even have an opening ceremony for a championship ( and the players are treated as celebrities

-The prize pools for a "sport" such as video gaming are massive, with the largest being ~21 million dollars at The International 2016 for Dota 2

-eSports have become so popular that online viewership for an event like League of Legends Championship series reached 32 million viewers which was more than the final game in the NBA finals of 2016 (surprising right?)

(Even I myself watch more eSports than I do TV)


-The industry generated a revenue of $400 million in 2015 which is expected to increase to $500 million in 2016

-Here's a video to get a sense of the crowds (

The Future
The NBA 76'ers, seeing the potential of eSports, has picked up two eSports teams themselves: Dignitas and Apex. They are currently working to have professional gamers be considered as "athletes" and even have eSports be part of the Olympics. Even people like Shaq have their own teams/orgs in eSports (NRG eSports) showing the presence eSports now have. The game CSGO is even broadcast on television on PBS now. Video games are only getting more popular and so are eSports which leaves you to wonder whether in the next few decades we could see the finals of an eSport as important as the Super Bowl or even more.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Home is Where the Heart (On a Chip) Is

The world of technology never fails to amaze me every single day. We're constantly creating things, and advancing the world and it's changing rapidly. As a senior, I'm looking at universities, hoping to eventually pursue the field of biomedical engineering. I know that I don't want to be a doctor, mostly because I don't have the patience for eight more years of schooling. I still want to be involved in the medical field, so BME is the perfect balance of technology, biology and medicine.

Image result for heart on a chip harvard
I'd rather be in a lab, designing systems and products, such as artificial organs, artificial devices that replace body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems. So obviously, with these interests in mind, Harvard has done something that has peaked my interest. Harvard researchers just developed a small, transparent "chip" that pulses like a heart and may one day replace animals in cardiac drug tests.

Called a "heart-on-a-chip," the 3D-printable medical device holds heart tissue and reads its reactions to cardiac drugs. One side of the chip is covered in lab-grown heart muscle cells, which contract and relax like they do in one's heart, giving the chip a "beat." Then a built-in sensor measures the pulse rate and strength, so researchers can record how the "heartbeat" fluctuates when the chip comes in contact with various drugs.

The researchers believe that the chips storing human cells can potentially be more accurate than animals in drug tests, aside from being more humane. They hope that the research will one day lead to rapid production of customized chips with specific patient cells, which will allow doctors to study how an individual patient responds to certain drugs.
Image result for heart on a chip harvard

We most likely wouldn't be able to make hearts on a chip here in the Hack Shack, but it's crazy to think that our little 3D printer has the potential to do that. We just don't have the skill set yet, and I don't know how innovative we can be with filament made out of corn. I hope one day that I can be a part of creating devices like the Harvard researchers, and take my knowledge from in here and take it with me as I go off to college and start working in the real world.

Works Cited
Burrows, Leah. "3D-printed Heart-on-a-chip with Integrated Sensors." Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

Peng, Jingnan. "These "pulsing" Chips Could Replace Animal Testing One Day." Quartz. N.p., 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

Citations for pictures:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Temporary Tattoos Are Not Just For Kids

By: Owen Moore

Throughout the years many societies have used tattoos and body art for various purposes such as religious beliefs and rites of passage as one comes of age. Tattoos have existed for thousands of years, and date back to as early as the ancient Egyptians in 300 B.C. According to the Japan Times, during the 17th century the Japanese used tattoos as a form of punishment to mark their criminals (Mitchell). During the time of the ancient Greeks, they used tattoos to communicate among their spies. Tattoo markings helped in identifying and ranking the spies ("History & Future"). When tattoos evolved to Europe and the United States, electric tattooing was created. In 1891, Samuel O'Reilly patented the first tattoo machine. According to Joe Capobianco from the Huffington Post, "Tattooing was most popular in the ranks of the military where many a soldier, sailor, or pilot found themselves marking their skin to commemorate that time in their lives with a USMC badge, a battleship, a hula gal, or a nautical star" (Capobianco).  Related image
Nowadays, tattoos are not only used as a form of art, but they are used for fun. You can find temporary tattoos at places such as a birthday party or Fourth of July celebration. But what is really cool, is that now, with the advancements in technology over the years, you are able to create your own temporary tattoos. You can use things such as the Silhouette Printer (located in the Hack Shack) to print and design your very own tattoos.
Related image
On top of all this, students at a design school in France have successfully been able to re-engineer a Makerbot Replicator 3D printer into the first ever 3D printer tattoo machine! Students Pierre Emm, Piotr Widelka and Johan Da Silveira re-designed a MakerBot Replicator as part of competition run by France's Cultural Ministry. They hacked the 3D printer, replaced the filament with a ballpoint pen, and then designed an image which they had the printer trace onto an arm. Even after the challenge was complete they decided that they wanted to make it so that they could actually tattoo a permanent tattoo on one's forearm. So, they did just that (Hu).
To see a short clip of the printer tattooing a permanent tattoo on a "volunteer's" arm click the link shown here:
Works Cited
Capobianco, Joe. "The Evolution of Tattoo Art." The Huffington Post., 26 Mar. 2012. Web.
"History & Future - How Tattoo Evolved?" History & Future - How Tattoo Evolved? The Human Touch of Chemistry, n.d. Web.
Hu, Elise. "Weekly Innovation: Turn A 3-D Printer Into A Tattoo Machine." NPR. NPR, 2 Apr. 2014. Web.
Mitchell, Jon. "Japan Inked: Should the Country Reclaim Its Tattoo Culture? | The Japan Times." The Japan Times. N.p., n.d. Web.
Rainier, Chris. Maori Facial Moko. Digital image. Baxter's Blog. N.p., 08 Oct. 2010. Web.
SilhouetteAmericaInc. "Temporary Tattoo Paper 101." YouTube. YouTube, 03 May 2012. Web.

DIY Drone: Dealing With Sensor Noise

Recently I’ve run into trouble trying to build my quadrotor. While trying to implement a PID controller to help balance my quadrotor, I realized that the sensor I was using was generating a lot of noise when the motors were running. The angle measurements were reading plus or minus 180 degrees! Over the past week I have been experimenting with different methods of cleaning up sensor data with the goal of getting my project off the ground.

The Process of Finding Angles

To find the angle values in the first place, the measurements from a gyroscope and accelerometer are combined. An accelerometer measures acceleration and a gyroscope measures the speed at which the angles are changing. Using a little geometry, it is easy to find the orientation of the drone (using gravity) as long as it is not accelerating. Unfortunately the drone accelerates a lot! This is where the gyroscope comes in. By finding the amount of time that has passed since the last measurement and the measured distance per unit time that the gyroscope provides, a running summation of the angle can be found, approximating the current orientation of the drone. The longer this runs however, the more inaccurate it becomes because of something called drift. The secret to accurate angle measurements is the combination of these two values which you can read more about here. This combination of gyro and accelerometer is used in a lot of applications and is called an IMU or an inertial measurement unit.

Silencing the Noise

As mentioned earlier the measured angle values were sporadic when the motors were running. A good motto to follow in situations like this is: “Hardware before software”. If you can fix a problem physically it will likely be better in the long run than trying to fix it with a program. So to start, I tested different materials between the sensor board and the frame.

From foam to bubble wrap, any material I thought would absorb vibration I tried. For each test I ran two or three of the motors on high for two seconds, then cut the motors and collected data for another two seconds. I collected the raw readings for the gyroscope and accelerometer and judged the success of the noise damping on graphs of these values. After a few trials I realized that a lot of the noise was likely coming from the direct contact between the motors and the metal frame. I took a thin rubber material, folded it over four times, and attached it between the motors and the frame. After combining these two shock absorbers I got the noise down to a manageable level.

Combining the quieter data back together and averaging every thirty values results in the final product! (Right) It’s nowhere near perfect and will likely be difficult to reference during times like takeoff and landing, but overall it should be able to get the drone off the ground! When it does finally fly, I’ll make sure to let you all know.

      – Ethan F