With Computers as Their Canvas and Code as Their Paints, Digital Innovators Create Things of Practical Beauty

21st Century Masterpieces



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Before every great technological innovation, there is a person with a dream.

Long before Google Glass, two guys in a garage were exploring an idea they called a search engine. A generation ago, smart phones existed only in the pages of science fiction. Now, we wake up each morning with an abundance of gadgets and utilities at our disposal. From weather prediction to shopping for clothes, we have more control over our lives than any generation before us — all with just the touch of a finger.

Where does inspiration come from? Why are people driven to innovate? Are they simply attempting to make a few bucks on the next viral meme or app? Is it just supply and demand, placing products in the hands of consumers? Or is there a deeper reason for these digital creations?

Today, computers are the cornerstone of modern society. We live in an age when most of the workforce has no memory of living without computer technology in some form. Since its birth in 1942, the computer has gone from being the size of a room to smaller than the eye can see, thanks to nanotechnology.

An able-bodied IMHC employee tests the X1a, an exoskeleton designed to make paraplegic people more mobile. 

William Howell

 

Algorithms, C++ objects and Java are the digital paints for crafting the next masterpiece. A blank canvas is white space on a computer screen awaiting input from a programmer, scientist or engineer. And the marvels they create can rival the likes of
da Vinci or Michelangelo.

Behind the beautiful displays and fancy buttons of our gadgets and gizmos are elegant codes and complex algorithms designed by individuals and teams, including two based here in Tallahassee, Ryan Kopinsky and the workers at F4 Tech.

Robotics graduate student Ryan Kopinsky worked on
the project.

Matt Burke

Kopinsky’s technological diversity has created an assortment of innovations.

As an intern at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (ihmc.us), he wrote algorithms for the IHMC-NASA X1 Exoskeleton, a device that aids paraplegic patients in sitting, standing and walking. His work contributed to the functionality of the exoskeleton. In this defining moment, Kopinsky realized he “wanted to add value to people’s lives by using robotics.”

Kopinsky is working toward his Ph.D. in robotics at Florida State University, but it doesn’t stop him from working on “side projects” too. He designed an app for Google Glass called Shop X Glassware that allows users to create and manage shopping lists. In 2014, Shop X Glassware became the 52nd app officially approved by Google, one of fewer than 200 apps that can make such a claim. While Google Glass has had a lukewarm reception since its introduction, it doesn’t diminish Kopinsky’s work on the software. 

“Innovation just means that one is making a significant, positive impact on the world. That is my ultimate goal in life,” Kopinsky said. (Find more of his work at ryankopinsky.com).

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