Entertainment is one of America’s most popular pass times and for a reason: many of us work long days and need ways to relax! Some of you out there watch and/or partake in sports while others immerse themselves in a good movie. Engineering bigger, better, and more interactive forms of entertainment is the focus of this Open Mind as it is a constant task for designers. Here are a few ways I would improve three of my favorite pass times.
I have been a fan of motorsports since as a far back as I can remember. This week’s prompt reminded me of when my dad would take me to the local drag strip to watch amateurs race their beefed up cars. Back then I never thought about how much fuel was being used by these screaming machines or any race car for that matter. The fuel used by race cars over a year is probably a drop in the bucket compared to that used by general transportation but what if we could save that amount of fuel? We could drive motorsport companies and racers to start using alternative fuels or even electric motors to run their speed machines. There are plenty of “clean” fuels here in the U.S that can be used for this transition and converting engines to burn these fuels is possible. Any progress with making high performance clean machines could trickle down to consumer automobile technology as well. By making moves in this direction we could see a reduction in toxic emissions from an industry that is purely for entertainment.
Before attending college for engineering, my life was dominated by music. I loved playing guitar and starting bands with my friends. At one point I was playing gigs regularly with a band called Clear the Canvas. My inspiration came from great bands and artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Santana. I would stay up late playing the guitar and manipulating settings to get the coolest sounds from my rig. One aspect that always came to mind was the strain instruments place on performers. As a mechanical engineering student equipped with knowledge of material selection and systems, I would seek ways to develop better performing instruments. Many great instruments are made with heavy materials and carrying the load for extended amounts of time can be hard on a performer. I would like to develop lighter materials with superior vibrational properties that can mimic the warmth and depth of heavier instrument bodies. This could help lessen the strain placed on performers and allow them to play longer shows without losing sound quality.
We often see interactive exhibits of animals and science but hardly any of important events such as historical speeches and concerts. I once walked through the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, specifically the Holocaust Exhibit, and that experience left me floored. The walk through concluded with the group splitting into two. Those wearing Vans were asked to step to the right while those not wearing Vans were asked to step to the left. Those wearing Vans were classified as able-bodied who would be put to work while those not wearing Van’s would be sent to their death. This kind of interactive exhibit, complete with a walk through gas chamber, is meant to immerse and shock. As an engineer I would apply my skills to create other exhibits that leave the same impression. Through the use of robotics and machinery, concerts such as Woodstock and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” can be made a “reality”. Museum goers could walk through the crowds and feel as though they have been transported to that exact moment in time.
We are only limited by our current technology when it comes to entertainment so who knows what the future holds! Leave a comment and tell us what you think!