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Writing on Standing Water

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the decorative-corporate-logo-pools dept.

166

Chancer writes "Engadget is reporting on Japanese scientists who have found a way to 'write' characters on the surface of water using waves. This looks very cool - but the time required to change character seems very high (15-30 seconds). From the article: 'Liquid-based displays are nothing new -- in a vertical orientation, at least -- but apparently it's a lot more difficult to coax a standing pool of water into forming recognizable shapes and characters.'"

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166 comments

Rise of the...liquid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787546)

"but apparently it's a lot more difficult to coax a standing pool of water into forming recognizable shapes and characters.'""

*cue terminator jokes*

darn! (4, Funny)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787547)

"My name is written in water" has lost all it's meaning, now!

John Keats (4, Interesting)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787690)

I believe that phrase likely originated with the poet John Keats [wikipedia.org]:
He died on February 23, 1821 and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. His last request was followed, and thus he was buried under a tomb stone reading, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

Re:John Keats (2, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787797)

Nice to see some people still know their poetry. :-)

('their' being used lightly, of course, since I'm not native english myself)

Re:John Keats (1)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787828)

Seen the fact I got a -1, it seems some slashdotters are completely unaware of the meaning and the poetic reference.

Ah well, one can't expect that much, I suppose. ;-)

Re:John Keats (2, Interesting)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788627)

Nice to see some people still know their poetry. :-)
Actually, I don't. I just happen to have recently been reading the (science fiction) Hyperion books [iblist.com] by Dan Simmons (not to be confused with an epic poem by Keats of the same name), in which Keats (or, actually, a reconstruction of Keats meant to be similar to the original historical Keats) plays a significant role.

First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787553)

First

Neato! (2, Interesting)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787555)

Looks pretty cool, what are some of the real world applications of this?

Re:Neato! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787637)

It's yet another way to go to an undeveloped country and convince the locals that you are a god.

Re:Neato! (5, Funny)

The Infidel (708655) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787882)

Because we are fresh out of glass coke bottles.

If you don't get +5 funny for that, then (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787952)

The Mods Must Be Crazy ;-)

It's yet another way to go to an undeveloped country and convince the locals that you are a god.

Because we are fresh out of glass coke bottles.

Re:Neato! (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788198)

It's yet another way to go to an undeveloped country and convince the locals that you are a god.

I thought giving away $100 laptops was going to do that.

Re:Neato! (4, Funny)

ATMD (986401) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787698)

Standing water, you say?

How about "Mosquito bite cream $20, on sale to your left"?

Re:Neato! (2, Funny)

realitybath1 (837263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787800)

Permanent, easy to read pregnancy tests in every toilet. Ok, maybe womens' washrooms only.
When a women sees the "U R Preggers" in the toilet water, she has the option to purchase a morning after pill from the dispenser built into the tank.

The toilets could also upload the bowl results through the tubes, although the internets might get blocked by all that tp.

Re:Neato! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788222)

what are some of the real world applications of this?

Communicating really slowly with deaf people.

But more realistically, probably Hollywood special effects will come first. Or some sort of display for tourists.

Re:Neato! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788526)

No offense to the poster, as it is a good question, but who the fuck modified this as interesting?

fart (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787561)

fart

What good does this do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787562)

Why is it important to be able to write on water?

Why? (3, Insightful)

TheInimitable (986861) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787574)

Because it's COOL. Who needs practical application?

Re:Why? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787611)

Imagine a SeaWorld-type attraction where the final act is a chum-filled pool slowly spelling out

"AND NOW...
SHARKS
WITH
FRICKIN
LASERS!!!"

I am SO in.

Re:Why? (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787728)

Nonono, sharks with lasers is nowhere near enough.

It's exploding vampire robot sharks with laser warhead vision, or nothing.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787921)

I meant to moderate that +1 Funny, but a scrollwheel mishap seems to have screwed the selection. Sorry :(

Re:Why? (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787778)

Because it's COOL. Who needs practical application?

Short sighted capitalists apparently.

Re:Why? (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787874)

You might see this sort of thing replacing fountains. I can imagine hotel's having them set up to display the hotel logo.

I have a technique for super-fast water writing (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787576)

But it only works with Capital Os.

Re:I have a technique for super-fast water writing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787606)

That's nothing! I can make lower-case o's, capital O's, and even the number 8!

but..? (2, Funny)

dud83 (815304) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787587)

I wonder if they can write:
R O T F L M F A O K T H N X B Y E P L Z *_*
I'd get on my jet to Japan to see that! :o

Abyss (1, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787588)

Now only if they can do this in 3D like in the movie Abyss. (Yes I know, it was CG animated)

Re:Abyss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787816)

Well, I wonder if they could do it in the air, say a plane of air filled with fog to make the effect visible. You just have to vibrate the molecules making up the substance in the right way, right?

outer space (2, Funny)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787595)

Write a message on the ocean for aliens to see.

Re:outer space (2, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787763)

A freind of mine once wrote a message with a much lower refresh rate... he planted trees. Somewhere in northeastern Washington, aliens (or pilots) may be startled to see a certain naughty word beginning with "f" spelled out over a couple acres.

Hmm. Actually, I ought to get the coordinates and check google maps...

Re:outer space (1)

faolan_devyn_aodfin (981785) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788384)

A freind of mine once wrote a message with a much lower refresh rate... he planted trees. Somewhere in northeastern Washington, aliens (or pilots) may be startled to see a certain naughty word beginning with "f" spelled out over a couple acres.


Actually in Germany there is a giant swastika in the Black Forests the was crreated by the Nazis during the 1930s. It's a very interesting concept.

I thought they meant the opposite (4, Interesting)

oskard (715652) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787597)

For example, writing a word in water and having the perimeter of the pool recognize the waves, and convert it to digital text. Microscopically, that could actually have a use with a liquid enclosed touchscreen.

Re:I thought they meant the opposite (2, Informative)

Badge 17 (613974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788080)

That would be cool! However, it seems a little harder than this - in fact, it may not be possible.

If I understand the article (it's short on details) they're displaying an image by decomposing it into Bessel functions (like the Fourier decomposition in JPEG compression) and then having elements oscillate at different frequencies to recreate the shape. Bessel functions are the natural set of orthogonal functions for cylindrical symmetry - which is what the tank has.

The inverse problem is a little harder - determining the shape based on the observed frequencies. It's kind of like the problem of hearing the shape of a drum [wikipedia.org]. It's possible for different shapes to have the same set of frequencies.

Jesus Christ... (2, Funny)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787619)

...at first I thought it said "writing WHILE standing on water."

Writing while standing in snow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787717)

is a time honored tradition.

Re:Writing while standing in snow (-1, Redundant)

saskboy (600063) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787866)

I was going to say, Yellow characters written on standing water (snow) has been a time honoured Canadian tradition for the males anyway, for as long as I can remember. Good to see the rest of the world is catching up and building on the innovation.

Interesting, but why? (1)

blantonl (784786) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787630)

Interesting, but why would someone want or need to do this? I fail to see any problem or application that this could possibly solve or address.

Wait. I could be in swimming pool, and the lifeguards could use this tool to "write" in the water to get out, or that someone is drowning, or that there is a sale on cold beers at the concession stand. That's it... advertising... there is an applicaton! Maybe I answered my own question.

In any case, for those that RTFA, it would be quite a scary pool to be swimming in, with all those magnents around the edge of the pool.

BTW, this is the 2nd time I've recently seen the word "coax" used in an article. Frightning.

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

Ninwa (583633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787674)

It's been said before, and even on the original article I read about this, but the applications are mostly for places like Disneyland and Casinos. Couple this with a light-show and a cool fountain, you get the idea. It's purely artistic.

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

hypnagogue (700024) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787685)

I fail to see any problem or application that this could possibly solve or address.


For lack of trying? I for one think the application in adaptive optics (both refractive and reflective) is quite compelling.

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

bobscealy (830639) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788249)

Further to the parent, the lack of an existing problem or application should not immediately be a reason to not explore a phenomenom or similar. Very frequently people come up with a problem that they would like solved (eg: cryptography), and find that much of the solution already exists independent of the application (eg: number theory).

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787724)

In any case, for those that RTFA, it would be quite a scary pool to be swimming in, with all those magnents around the edge of the pool.
I don't think they're magnets -- they're more `actuators' or `wave generators' (and probably do contain magnets.) But point taken ...

In any event, a fast fourier transform (FFT) can be used to describe any arbitrary waveform as a series of frequencies and amplitudes (and phases I guess) -- I guess that this is just people doing the opposite, using a series of wave generators to create an arbitrary waveform -- but to do it in 2D rather than just in 1D. (Or 3D rather than 2D, depending on how you look at it.)

Pretty clever, but like many others, I don't see a lot of use for it. Perhaps they can refine it to make some sort of new data display that we've never seen before? Write a message in clouds (yes, that's a big jump), for example? Think of the advertising opportunities!

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787766)

I never quite understood how a square wave can be represented like that - I'm right in thinking that it has to be composed of sine waves, yes?

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787941)

Like a Taylor series of any periodic function*, a square wave would be an infinite sum. Just in the square wave case, it's an infinite sum of sines or cosines instead of polynomials.

*except constant functions

Re:Interesting, but why? (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787729)

Interesting, but why would someone want or need to do this? I fail to see any problem or application that this could possibly solve or address.

I could imagine artists using it to create "digital" water sculptures. Why just limit yourself to language characters? You could create pictures, play around with lighting, and so on.

And maybe a few sharks swimming in the water, wearing ''lay-zers''. [insert Dr. Evil gestures]

Re:Interesting, but why? (4, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787740)

"Interesting, but why would someone want or need to do this?"

You just answered your own question... see, right there, first word.

It was only a matter of time (-1, Redundant)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787668)

We always had the technology to write on snow, at least males do anyways.

Re:It was only a matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787712)

If you call that technology then.. umm.. something.

Does Snow Count as Standing Water? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787694)

Does snow count? I can write my name in snow!

Applications! (1)

p33p3r (918997) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787703)

A good application is to protect low-lying coastal areas from catagory 5 hurricanes.
or...separating the melted ice from my Jack Danials.

It's like the IQ of /. dropped (4, Funny)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787762)

Over on engadget, they had serious comments about using resin, vacuuming forming, advertising, and other practical applications.
Here, we got a pageful of piss jokes....

Re:It's like the IQ of /. dropped (2, Funny)

dud83 (815304) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787785)

That's because we're science/computer geeks with a critical mind, and they're just technology geeks that wants a new fascinating techno-fetish to flap at *_*

Re:It's like the IQ of /. dropped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15787786)

And yet you came here to post that anyway. If anything you're only contributing to the massive amounts of bullshit posted here every day, you have no right to complain. Worthless anime freak.

My favorite comment on the site (3, Funny)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787784)

"That's nothing new. I have a special pen that can write my name in my tiolet bowel water."

Processing time? (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787799)

using formulas known as Bessel functions to cut the processing time down to between 15 and 30 seconds and form characters

That sure makes it sound like the calculations involved are so great that the computer takes that long to process (as opposed to a physical delay in the hardware or medium). Certainly that could be reduced substantially either by optimization or throwing more CPUs at the problem. If that is indeed the issue then they could also precalculate the math for various shapes, and recall them instantly on demand. I also wonder if this is a purely virtual simulation inside the software, or if the system requires feedback from sensors in the real world to fine-tune the oscillations to produce the desired effect. In that case it may take that much time to stabilize the system because of chaos and the like. I have a hunch that must be what's going on, because certainly these people are smart enough and have enough funding so that processing speed alone isn't the issue.

Dan East

Re:Processing time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788054)

You have no idea what chaos means, do you? Hint: It's a technical term, and it doesn't mean "like the bedroom of a teenager".

Re:Processing time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788144)

Ook! Ook! Ook! I'm a bigger geek than you!

*flings poo*

Re:Processing time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788172)

i am awed by your display of wit

Re:Processing time? (4, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788174)

Part of the trouble is that these things are NOT stationary. There's only once in a long time that all of the waves produced by those actuators end up forming the characters they want them to, AND all the rest of the surface is smooth. And that can only be done with some sophisticated feedback as to what waves are present. I haven't read their paper, but I suspect they either sense some inductances at the edge of the tank, or do some fancy laser-scanning of the surface. I can easily see incorporating the continually-changing conditions into the calculations as taking a long time. And cylindrical Bessel functions are not so easily precomputed if you need 50 of them at a particular time. I'd think the easiest way to do that is to set up 50 analog circuits with the appropriate parameters and continuously feed in the water heights along the edge of the tank.

      For applications... I can't answer this in full, since part of my research is sort of related. But for detecting things buried in the seafloor, ripples on the seafloor do some amazing things to signals. Having a reliable way to set up such ripples in the laboratory is very useful.

For real? (2, Insightful)

solitas (916005) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787818)

I see an article; with an illustration that could easily have been photoshopped.

Has anyone seen any video demonstration(s)? (yes, I know _they_ could be synthetic images too; but it's more-likely they wouldn't be)

Re:For real? (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787946)

Here [mes.co.jp] is the whitepaper
Here [mes.co.jp] is the originating site

Brush up on yer nipponese!

Lame sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788269)

that is the lamest sig I've seen in a long time.

Think past water for a moment (1)

sryx (34524) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787888)

These scientists can apply an amazingly controlled level of force to a specific point on a 2-D surface across something a unpredictable as the surface of water. Imagine bringing this down to nanotechnology level, could the same principles allow someone to sculpt an object out of individual atoms from the center out?
-Jason

Re:Think past water for a moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788090)

Short answer: No. Long answer: No, you idiot. Can't you see the difference between a large pool of water and a small crystal of silicon, or whatever? Honestly, Slashdot seems to be full of scientifically illiterate morons at the moment.

Re:Think past water for a moment (1)

sryx (34524) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788179)

Short answer: No. Long answer: No, you idiot. Can't you see the difference between a large pool of water and a small crystal of silicon, or whatever? Honestly, Slashdot seems to be full of scientifically illiterate morons at the moment.
Good thing rational, intelligent adults who are capable of civil discourse are not in short supply! To address the difference you noted about a large pool of water and a small crystal of silicon (or whatever), isn't it possible to consider displacing atoms by the calculated application of converging waves of energy? Feel free of course to dismiss this question if I am violating some fundamental law of physics. Though if it is ridiculus, I would at least be interested in learning why. -Jason

In related news... (1)

sarge apone (918461) | more than 7 years ago | (#15787914)

Sheraton Hotels files a copyright suit against the Japanese scientists, citing they have a patent to write the letter "S" in their swimming pools.

Mirror of Galadriel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15788103)

Maybe they can convince people they're seeing visions in it.

Doh! I shoulda done it.... (1)

jemenake (595948) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788109)

Back in college, I toyed with the idea of doing something like this as my senior project. My name for it, at the time, was a "water hologram", which I think more-accurately describes what's going on. You're manipulating one or more wave sources in order to generate a specific pattern of constructive and destructive interference.

I'd like to see a video of it. I'm curious to see if the images are: A) constantly oscillating up and down, B) perpetually raised and not oscillating, or C) just there for a moment and then gone (like a rogue wave or something).

Lower the lid / Flush (1)

gravy.jones (969410) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788166)

Who says it would be useful at theme parks. A Practical application is for the woman of a house to leave messages for the man on the surface of the toilet water.

CAT Scan in Reverse (4, Interesting)

Mignon (34109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15788254)

I think this is somewhat related to CAT scans, but applied in reverse. My crude understanding of a CAT scan is that sensors are placed in a ring shape around the object to be scanned and a series of "slices" are scanned. For each "slice", this gives a set of axial views through the object (the 'A' in CAT). Bessel functions are the mathematical tool that let you convert the axial data - which is a kind of sum across a diameter - into data at each point in the circular cross section.

It seems they've reversed this process and solved for the axial data given the point-by-point data - e.g. the rasterized character.

By the way, CAT scans and Bessel functions are one of the examples of "abstract" math that later turns out to have practical application.

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