Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Visit to Dim Sum Labs, Hong Kong

I am in Hong Kong on business, and got a chance to visit Dim Sum Labs near Sheung Wan.

The key to enter the space is an Octopus Card.  Pretty much everyone in Hong Kong has one because it is the stored value card for the mass transit system, but has expanded to be used in point-of-sale at convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and parking meters.  Some can be linked to a person and used for taking school attendance or library loans.  An Octopus Card reader can be purchased for about $20 USD.

The space is mainly one large room.  Greeting you is the "Spy Cat" which meows at you when you are detected with the PIR sensor.  It also shows on the D.S.L. web site whether someone is in the space or not:

One of the neat projects there is the online Arduino.  This is an effort to make Arduino hacking easy for beginners.  Members can access a Raspberry Pi over the Internet, and then go into the Arduino IDE running on it, and can program the Arduino to do things with a dot matrix LED display:

Results of the remote hacking can be seen using a webcam on the Pi:

Of course they also have a 3D printer, CNC project, drill press, lathe, etc:

D.S.L. is on the top floor (14th floor!) of a building, so they have access to a roof-top deck space.  While not very large, it gives you a neat view of the neighborhood.  Here is the look down from the D.S.L. deck:

I got to meet several nice folks at D.S.L. including Alexander List who is working on open spectrum issues, and Katia Vega, the programmer behind a project called "Blinkifier" she did with Tricia Flanagan.  This combined skin conductive ink and conductive eyeliner to allow blinks to be translated into LED displays on the headpiece using an Arduino:

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