The TechnoFrolics Attic

Here you'll find everything from occasional "garage sales" to specials on exhibits to miscellaneous items that may be of interest. (Blog for thoughts.)

"Tower of Triangles" (TOT) Torsional Wave Medium with Chaotic Behavior above certain energy/twist levels.

Following completion of a NSF SBIR Phase I/II grant that subsidized its development (we also patented the concept), the TOT has been in storage. There are two units, one larger, one smaller.

The units were previously computer controlled, but this is likely not worth considering. While cool, the TOT has limited durability, but could potentially be made more durable by museum staff, and/or perhaps run off hand-crank generators. The units also could be of interest for exploration/transformation within the context of a Maker space.

The cost is $2500 for both put units together. This assumes you would come with truck and two strong people to remove it from our storage area here in Somerville. (Assume it would take at least an hour to get out of the basement and into truck.)

TOT Info: Circa 2000

The remaining sections describing the TOT were all written circa 2000. (While a high-end commissioned version of the work would still be possible, it's currently in 'the attic'.)

The Tower of Triangles (the TOT) performs as a dynamic kinetic sign, interactive physics exhibit, and performance artwork.

When at rest, the TOT appears to be a simple, elegant, three-sided column. In performance, the triangular prisms that comprise the column come to life.

Linked by a patented mechanism that allows for wave travel across the elements, and set in motion by computer-controlled motors at either end of the display, the prisms exhibit a surprising and delightful range of motions.

The TOT is by turns fluid and graceful, chaotic and funny, able to change style of movement and mood instantly. The TOT's variability in appearance, size and function makes it accessible for unique innovative attractions in a wide range of spaces.

The display can be choreographed to move silently, dance with music, or perform in synch with a narrative.

The TOT as Signage

The TOT's three-sided, columnar structure is ideally suited to presenting signs, logos and product images. The surface panels are simple to replace, enabling the client to vary messages or graphics easily. The TOT can perform in synch with a marketing narrative, kinetically highlighting specific product images as they are described. An (optional) interactive element draws audiences into engaging, personal experiences with the TOT, during which they absorb the display's images, text and accompanying audio narrative.

The TOT as Physics Exhibit

The TOT's unique method of integrating of wave motion and chaotic dynamics offers science exhibit developers an unparalleled medium for presenting these physics concepts to the public in exciting memorable demonstrations. At low excitation energies the TOT acts as a linear wave medium. As the stored energy increases, the inter-prism coupling force becomes non-linear and the display evidences a transition from orderly to chaotic behavior, similar to such transitions seen in natural phenomena. An optional interactive element permits visitors to explore mechanical resonances and standing wave node placement as a function of driving frequency, phase, and amplitude. The TOT's varied behaviors clearly demonstrate common wave principles such as reflection, absorption, superposition, and more.

The TOT as Kinetic Artwork

The TOT can be designed as a live "playable" visual performance instrument, as a kinetic science/artwork programmed for automatic dances, as a clock, or as a combination of all three. External light sources and reflective panel materials can be combined to create an artwork that casts dancing light across an installation space. Selection of surface pattern and color, choreography, and (optional) accompanying music all combine to create a unique performance sculpture. For specific installation ideas, see our TOT Artwork and Visual Performance Instrument Scenarios.

The TOT's Resume

The core technology of the TOT was developed in part through a two year grant from the SBIR program of the National Science Foundation.

A pair of TOT prototypes made their debut at Discover Magazine's annual Technology Awards ceremony at Disney's EPCOT Center in May of 1997. These TOTs, situated on the main stage, entertained the EPCOT audience in a performance that showcased their abilities as live Visual Performance Instruments.