Michael Borys, Interactive Design Director


Cool Tools Show 118: Michael Borys

Our guest this week is Michael Borys. He is a designer who creates experiences for the entertainment industry. He is currently the Vice President of Interaction and Game Design at 42 Entertainment, a Magician Member of The Magic Castle and his immersive magic show is called The 49 Boxes — which is not to be missed.

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Show notes:

The Book of Codes
“It is a treasure trove of every single type of language that is used for encryption from the dawn of man to now. Of course, you’ve got braille and Morse and things like that. There’s even Klingon. It sort of teaches your brain to look at the world differently and see language in everything. For example, the way that binary works, as you know, it’s all ones and zeroes, and binary isn’t just on-off like that. It can be birds sitting on a fence, and if a bird has his wings up that could be a one, and if he’s got his wings down it can be a zero … Even a hem of a dress, if it has stitching that changes from time to time, you can embed information even with stitching that way. … I’m looking at Page 19, for example. It gives you versions of how information was decoded in the hems in garments during times of war, for example. And so across enemy lines … This is called steganography, by the way, the hiding of information. Soldiers were given information that were kept in their jackets. And so when they would go across enemy lines, if they were captured their capturers wouldn’t know that they actually had this information, but if they did get to where they needed to go the information could then be parsed, and that could win a war or lose a war. … hundreds and hundreds of these different ways of thinking that just become part of your rote memory, and so it makes you, as you travel, as you work, as you meet people and see things in a curio shop, you’ll realize that information is being hidden everywhere without anybody knowing it. It’s exciting, actually.”

The Puzzle Keyring ($30)
“I wish I had this at every room escape that I tried to solve, because it’d be a tool to both to make puzzles, think about things differently, and to solve things really quickly. It’s great. … It is a plastic-coated booklet, so you can dump it in water, and it’d still be fine. Unrippable, and it’s on a metal keyring so that you can have it on your keys if you wanted to during the event. It’s too bulky to have it with you every day of your life, but, boy, is it convenient. It’s durable, and it’s very, very useful.”

BLACK+DECKER Impact Screwdriver ($60)
“Because my show travels, all my tools have to travel, and a lot of times I don’t have time to be delicate with the stuff that I have. This particular Black & Decker drill, I’ve charged it one time in two years, and darn it, it is great. Whenever I need it, it is ready. It had a light at the head of it. It seems unbreakable. I have a few different ones because I have a couple different sets of screws on many boxes that I have to undo and do during the show. This thing has been a lifesaver. You’re probably expecting, well, specialized tools, but this is the best drill I’ve ever had in my life. It was like 70 bucks, but again, it has fallen 20 feet to the ground and it’s never shattered, and it’s just always been there for me.”

Mag Hand Workstation
“That is the greatest for me because what this is is a platform that has magnetic trays — and it’s heavy, which is good — that I can keep the tiniest screws in and the tiniest washers, and because I’m always working with these tiny boxes and building things and making things tighter than what they probably were designed for, things fly all of the place, and how many times have you lost eyeglass screws? This thing, I can tip it upside down and all my screws and washers stay in one spot. I’ve knocked it on the ground and things have been fine. And there are also these posable arms with clips on the end of them, so if I’m ever painting something or I’m staining something that’s delicate, I don’t have the stain or the paint on my hands, because this thing will hold very objects in place for me so I won’t have to worry about that. It’s great. It’s a multipurpose thing that keeps me sane.”

Also mentioned:

Hidden Codes & Grand Designs

Locked by Jim Kleefeld


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