If you’re here then you’ve most likely have heard Catarina Mota‘s talk on Makers and Open Hardware. Here is some background on the two material categories from Canal Mercer Designs that you may have played with at the Materials Showcase.
Jade “Glass” [hand formed sugar candy]
In May of 2012, we started researching biodegradable materials for a still top secret project. One of the materials researched was glass. At the time we were spending some time testing the different properties of it, and one of the most prohibitive properties of small scale custom glassworking (as is to small scale almost anything) is COST. Since we are also massive foodies, I’d thought, sugar seems to have similar qualities of glass, let’s see if that works instead.
As a result, a series of ‘antique glass’ bottles (yes, made of sugar) were formed and exhibited in the Bayridge SAW, an art show in Bayridge – Brooklyn, NY. The series was called “Now Not Forever” and explored the long term impact of the materials used in objects that have only fleeting appearances in our lives.
The ones made for TED Global were a special gift. I’d asked fellow Resistor Catarina what her favourite color was and created a series for her to display with the other cool materials she has in her roster.
Some of the super interesting properties of this? It’s edible! When smashed, it makes a great “crashing” sound, just like glass. Electronically, It’s an almost perfect insulator. It’s sticky, which has it’s challenges. It catches light in really interesting ways. We’re nowhere near finished with our explorations with this material so please check back in about a month and we’ll be sure to have updates. In the spirit openMaterials.org please go forth and try this yourself!
RFID Theft Prevention Wallets
In 2011, I gave a series of talks at the MAD Museum, and at two international conferences (Berlin and Rio) about the dangers of RFID ‘snooping’. US credit cards, such as American Express’s ExpressPay service offers “contactless” payments. The way this works is with the use of RFID technology, which is a little chip that’s embedded within the credit card that transmits a signal to a reader. Although these chips should only transmit a maximum of 2″, much more powerful readers can be purchased which can read cards for up to 70′ away.
What does that really mean? It means that if you happen to have one of these ‘convenient’ cards, your card can be snooped without anyone ever being in contact with you. Is it just paranoia? Not really, identity and credit card theft has been recorded as a $30M / year problem as of 2010. When I’d given the talk at MAD Museum, people who came by had kept asking if any of my wallets were available for purchase. We have a limited number of them so if you are interested, please let us know. We’ve been a bit snowed under with corporate work to put up our product sales page for the wallets.
The wallet shown below fits about 10 credit cards and 3 bills. And it creates what’s called a Faraday Shield with the materials inside to prevent any RFID within the wallet to be read. It’s made of gorgeous leather and a specially treated aluminum. The active ingredient here is the aluminum.
One of the challenges of this product was finding the thinnest aluminum that would withhold a beating. If it’s too thin (aka household aluminum foil) it will become porous and brittle over a short period of time (2 weeks). The degradation of the material results in performance issues.
What this means is that although you can just wrap your contactless credit card in 4 layers of household aluminum foil, it probably won’t be very confortable, is noisy, and within 2 weeks, will stop working. We’ll do a more comprehensive write up of this in the next few weeks.