December 31, 2009
Check Out Tonight's Blue Moon
Just so that you know that we know what's going on, have a great New Year and in between sipping that cheapo champagne, eating your Wally World cheese ball and watching the ball drop on Times Square to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas "I Got a Feeling," peek out your window at tonight's blue moon. This proves that the old adage "once in a blue moon" is really true as the next one will not occur until 2028. (The term refers to a second full moon in a month and isn't really blue.) And, by the way, since they say whatever you are doing New Year's Eve will be your main occupation in the new year, you might want to trade up on that cheese ball.
December 31, 2009
RoboVault Keeps Valuables Safe
The RoboVault, located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was created to protect "your most valuable possessions from... Everything!" Once you place your car on a pallet, it goes through a security scan and heartbeat detector. Then, a robotic arm takes it to your assigned steel mesh space. The building consists of 465 units made of concrete and steel that can withstand weather related disasters, fires and bullets. The vault also houses smaller spaces for valuables, such as wine and jewelry. Prices start at $440 per month for vehicles.
December 30, 2009
Coolerbot Goes Bird Watching
Steve Norris recently completed his Coolerbot, designed for nature photography and surveilance. The rugged, waterproof device consists of a Coleman cooler, Nikon DSLR cam, infrared video camera, motors, wheels, 10Ah batteries and solar panels for charging. Two Parallax HB-25s control the motors and the robot itself is run by a 912MHz transceiver.
Norris has also been working on phase 2 of his Chessbot, which can be played with humans, chess engine software or via a social network site like Twitter.
Via Norris Labs
December 30, 2009
Witness the Ultimate Buzz Lightyear
Buzz Lightyear has gone Ultimate. The 16" "Toy Story" star has 7 motors for his head and body, walks, talks and can be put in either 'Space Ranger' or 'Toy' mode. He responds to voice commands with over 100 phrases and with his IR remote, shoots his arm laser, can "give you five" and not only has body movement, he turns his head and blinks. Not recommended for kids under 3 years old, he comes with an interactive target game and has an autonomous roaming mode in case you don't have time to search beyond infinity. You can adopt Buzz, but remember that this is no minor toy as his 3 AAA and 11 AA batteries are not included.
Via Buzz Lightyear
December 29, 2009
Asus Adds ECleaner to Robotic Vacuum Market
No sooner did we discover the Neato, we also came across Asus' ECleaner. In addition to following pre-programmed patterns for cleaning via algorithms like the Roomba, it also features a 6000 hr. UV light used for disinfecting the floor and emitting aroma. The ECleaner returns to its dock automatically and comes at a price of $150.00.
Via Taiwan Economic News
Neato Uses Laser Vision for Mapping
Neato is the latest Roomba wannabe, but this one does corners. The XV-11 features a room positioning system that utilizes laser vision to map your floor to avoid obstacles. It uses a back and forth pattern when vacuuming up to a 4 meter area. Neato can work on both hard floors and carpets, returns to its charger when needed and will set you back $399.99.
Via Neato Robotics at The Laser Guided Robotic Vacuum.
December 28, 2009
Yotaro Babybot Cries With Aid of PC
Humanoid robots get scarier-looking all the time. Yotaro can make facial expressions, moves and features an emotion control system run by computer to allow it to cry real tears on its 2D face. Created in Japan at the University of Tsukuba's Uchiyamalab, the interactive bot also displays physiological characteristics of a real baby.
Via Uchiyamalab (Japanese)
Jason Captures Underwater Volcano
Scientists from the Woods Hoke Oceanographic Institution managed to capture a volcano in action in the Pacific, about 4,000 ft. below its surface with the help from Jason, a remote controlled underwater robot. The high definition video is the first shot in the last 25 years and shows that what is spewing out of the West Mata volcano is boninite lava, thought to have only been present on extinct volcanoes. Interestingly enough, the team managed to find some shrimp in the same area and will be studying their DNA.
December 25, 2009
Must Have - Hexbugs Take on Robotic Hamsters
Who needs a Zhu Zhu Pet ? When the original Hexbug Nanos were conceived, there were over 150 variations of legs alone tested, so you know that this robotic insect has a history. The final version allows the legs to bend and unbend allowing him to move forward. When you order, the color may vary, but you will get one that can not only flip over by itself but comes with an access code that allows you to go online and play games.
Oddly enough, your Nano can have its own Habitat beginning next month, leaving us to believe that the company really is after the robotic hamster market.
Via Hexbug Nanos
P.S. Happy Holidays, all! Remember that today is the day to give what you can to whomever you can. Greet your neighbors, feed a stray cat, love your enemies, and forgive everyone everything.
Coffeemaker Speaks Up
Primula Products has a new coffeemaker, the Speak 'n Brew, that will ask you the time to set its clock and what time you would like it to brew. Think about this. Suppose your crock pot told you to add a tad more salt or your microwave suggested that the Hungryman Dinner you placed inside it had about a gazillion calories.
Via Primula Products
December 24, 2009
Autobot Drive Includes 'Revenge of the Fallen'
The Transformer limited edition Autobot Flash Drive comes housed in a special tin case. With a 4GB memory, the $30.00 drive comes packed with "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen." The movie can be burned to DVD after you have gotten your initial fill on your PC and you get a gig of memory back.
Man Marries Avatar from 'Love Plus'
We think that virtual reality can sometimes lead to strange addiction. Last week, Sal 9000, married an avatar named Nene Anegasaki from the Nintendo DS game "Love Plus." While thousands watched online, the 27 year old man, dressed in a tuxedo, went through the nuptial event. He started "dating" her in September and took her with him around Tokyo, Disneyland and a beach resort. Sal insists that he knows the it is a video game and that "I love this character, not a machine."
December 23, 2009
Pingo, Your Swiss Desktop Buddy
Arimaz's Pingo can live on your desktop and responds to voice commands, rolls around on your desk and lets you know when you have email. Compatible with both PC and Mac, the robotic penguin from Switzerland will read you news, weather and market information from RSS feeds and can hook up with other Pingo owners through Arimaz's Facebook app. Own your own for $149.00.
Look! It's Transformer Wall-E!
Every once in a while Wall-E pops up in a new form. This time he takes on Transformer. The 5.8 x 9.5 x 8.5" robotic dude starts out as a cube, but when you press buttons, he will reveal wheels, arms and head. A Transformer Eve is also available. She mostly resembles an egg until you press her buttons. No sexist jokes here, please.
Via Transformer Wall-E
December 22, 2009
Get Your Own Doppleganger
For the very shallow, Japan's Sogo & Seibu Department Store is offering two custom built humanoid robots that will resemble their owners. Built by Kokoro, the robot will have similar face, body, hair, eyes, facial expressions and upper body movements. It will also have speech based on recordings of the owner's voice. Only two are being offered at a price of ¥20.1 million yen ($223,000) each.
Via Pink Tentacle
ProDigits and Tengion Make Headlines
Touch Bionics ProDigits are now available to the public. The bionic fingers can grab and pick up objects as they are controlled with myoelectric sensors that register muscle signals from the palm or other finger. They can alternately be used with a pressure sensitive switch from a force resistive sensor. The company also developed Bluetooth technology so that the motor functions can be fine tuned.
At the same time, Tengion has been working on making organs by using a person's cells and grows them in about 5 to 7 weeks over scaffold that biodegrades after it has been implanted. We caught Tengion at work during a recent episode of 60 Minutes that showed not only a Neo-bladder and an artificial heart, but a finger as well. Pretty cool stuff.
Via Touch Bionics
December 21, 2009
Scarlet Knight Completes Voyage
We have been following Rutger's Scarlet Knight since it first began its second trek in May and we are pleased to announce that it made a successful journey from New Jersey to Baiona, Spain. Using only a battery and ocean currents to travel the 4,600 miles, the yellow glider collected information on currents, salt levels and temperature. It seems that the SK is retiring and will be put on display at the Smithsonian.
Letterman Wreaks Havoc on Robotic Pets
On Dec. 17, David Letterman had his annual "Late Night" holiday toy segment. The fascinating thing about this was that although 2 of the hot toys were the manually used Zyclone Blaster and the $25,000 Motorized Cupcake Car, the others were robotic in nature, FurReal Lulu, Hexbug Nanos, Zhu Zhu Pets and a very cool Blue Vectron Wave, a flying saucer from Air Hogs that you control with your palm. They are taking over, folks.
Via The Late Show
December 18, 2009
Must Have: Invest in Robots
While you are thinking about last minute holiday gifts, teach someone inexpensively how to save with the Mudpuppy Robots Money Bank. At a size of 4.5 x 4.5 x 4", it has three slots and interior compartments and has been safety tested. For older spendthrifts, there is the Diamond Select R2-D2 Bank sculpted by Oluf Hartvigson. About 11" tall, the perfectly scaled droid can save the planet, one dime at a time.
Midwest's Ceramic Bank eeps when you feed it and the ROBO Bank doubles as an alarm clock. He actually talks, counts and tells the time as his eyes flash in that evil botty kind of way.
Via Robot Banks
British Library Warehouse run by Robots
The British Library recently opened its new $43 million dollar warehouse that is mostly controlled by bots. The 7 service robots retrieve items requested by human librarians. Eventually the automated building will store about 7 million items from the library's collection that will be stored in more than 140,000 bar-coded containers.
December 17, 2009
Mario Brothers Strictly For Adults
Little kids have their Mario game and now big kids have theirs. At Austria's Roboexotica, "Adult Mario" was displayed. Run around and you get a fan in your face. Break blocks, destroy the bad guys or come to the end of the level and you get rewarded with a rum and Coke. Jimmy Fallon, your Beer Pong is so yesterday.
Via Digital Tools
DROID Ad Searches for Humans
You gotta appreciate a commercial that features a product named Droid featuring robotic arms that is searching for "humans." 'Nuff said.
December 16, 2009
Fuji Develops Farmbot
Fuji Heavy Industries has a new autonomous farming robot that runs on gas and uses laser signals to get a proper orientation from reflective plates that are 30 ft. from each other. The over six foot long robot can be utilized in greenhouses at a cost of about $100,000.00.
Eureqa Uses Data to Calculate Equations
Eureqa, developed by the Computational Synthesis Lab at Cornell University, is a descendant of the starfish robot that was able to repair itself. This artificial intelligence program examines any data on a spreadsheet, then suggests equations to fit them. Amazingly enough, it calculated some of Newton's equations in mere hours rather than years. Head of the team, Dr. Hod Lipson, hopes to use it for figuring out interactions between proteins, genomes and cell signals in mathematical terms. By the way, Cornell has generously offered Eureqa in the form of a free download.
December 15, 2009
Designer Bots Featured Online
So we are wandering around the Net and come across the site Kidrobot. It features lots of designer toys, including this 5" Auto + USBoombox by Superdeux that looks robotic enough for our taste. Made of vinyl, each comes with a hidden 1GB flash drive at a price of $60.00.
MOTOMAN Identifies Colors
Displayed at the recent IREX 2009, Yaskawa's MOTOMAN was shown to possess more freedom of movement with elbows that bend while building with Legos. It also has color recognition (!) and 3D vision. Looking more human-like, we cannot help but wonder if an SDA5D interior designerbot is in the works.
Via Robots Dreams
December 14, 2009
Pass the Salt and Pepper Bots
As long as you are passing the salt and/or pepper, make it easier with the Salt and Pepper Bots, who will truck down your table with the best of intentions. Wind them up and perhaps if they trip over the ketchup bottle, will throw each other over your shoulder to thwart any bad luck. Pre-order the pair for £20.00 (~$33.00.)
What Service Would You Like From Your Robot?
The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies held a poll asking, "If you had a personal robot that could do only one thing, which ability would you prefer it to have?" Odd that sexbots came in second, leading us to believe that there are scads of humans that have lousy love lives, but then the organization is geared towards ethics in robots. Having robots clean the house, the first choice, certainly won't surprise anyone who dreams of the day when their Roomba is replaced by Rosie the Robot.
December 11, 2009
Must Have: WowWee ChatterBots
Such a deal! You can now save almost 75% on WowWee's ChatterBot Dog/ Cat. Connect to PC or Mac via USB and they will tell jokes and make rude comments about you. The bot also keeps track of upcoming events and can be used as a speaker.
The disruptive Fairy Godfather and Devil/Angel are also available at reduced prices.
Via WowWee Chatterbots
Sushi Bots More Than Illustrations
Illustrator/designer Pez Banana (aka Jose Lorenzo Pacheco) has taken two of his robots from his Maki Sushi 'Bot' series and is turning them into real ones. The 5.5" 'Sushibot' and 'Alaskabot' can each be pre-ordered now at a $30.00 price.
Via Patch Together
December 10, 2009
Good and Evil Etsy Robots
Every once in a while we surf by Etsy to see if there are any new robots lurking about. Susan Porteous crocheted this 2" Amigurumi Mechanic and stuck a bit of hardware to make him look a bit more menacing, we expect. And for the more macho, 'sleepy robot 13's' 1 1/2" Zombie Toast is holding jelly brains. Mmmmm, brains.
Via Amigurumi Mechanic
Too Expensive, Will Robinson!
How cool would it be to find this under (or near) your tree this year? The 6 1/2 ft., 275 lb. B-9 Robot from "Lost in Space" has been reproduced from archival molds, patterns and blueprints. Running on remote control, it features a 240W audio system and the voice of Richard Tufeld, who did the original. He will move his torso, his head flashes and he has those claws that made him somewhat creepy. All this can be yours for $24,500.00.
Via Hammacher Schlemmer
December 9, 2009
Clean Up With Autonomous Bot
Fuji, Subaru and Sumitomo unveiled their new cleaning bot, powered by a 24V battery that will last for 2.5 hours. So far unnamed, it is a glorified Roomba that will vacuum and clean up garbage while avoiding obstacles with its sensors and laser system. Priced between $35,000 and $46,000, it would still be cheaper than maid service. The bot on the right is their previous model.
Share the Holidays with Futurama
Rumor has it that Futurama is returning to the boob tube. Get ready early with the Limited Edition Santa Bender and Robot Santa. There are only 2000 of the figures available, so order now to reek havoc on the rest of your holiday gifts.
December 8, 2009
IREX Holds Dance-Off
The 2009 International Robot Exhibition took place last week in Tokyo. Hundreds of them invaded the IREX including robotic receptionists, eco-bots and the break dancing Manoit AT01. The dance-off must have been either very kewl or very scary, depending on your personal robotic perspective. Ryuki II came in first place.
Via Huffington Post
Autom, Your Dieting Buddy
Need some help with that diet? Autom was designed to sit on your counter and remind you that you don't need that extra piece of pumpkin pie stashed in your fridge. She keeps track of what you eat and when you exercise, then provides feedback, advice and encouragement. When CEO of Intuitive Automata Cory Kidd tested the bot on humans, the results were that not only did they not want to give her back, they stayed on their diet for at least 8 weeks. Due out next year, perhaps this cute service robot would be much better than a nagging spouse/partner.
Via Intuitive Automata
December 7, 2009
Feds to Inspect Mr. Squiggles
It would seem that the organization GoodGuide has decided that
Mr. Squiggles, one of the Zhu Zhu Pets, has an excessive amount of antimony and tin on his hair and nose. While the maker of the toy, Cepia LLC, claims that he is safe and has undergone testing to the max, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into the matter. We call that better safe than sorry and hope they put a rush on the report before little ones start chewing on their heads.
Beware the USB Robot Flash Drives
Looking for stocking stuffers? The Robot USB Drives hold 1GB of data and will steal your secret info from your computer while you sleep. And just in case you don't think they are serious, their red LED eyes flash when plugged into your USB port.
Via Robot USB Drives
December 4, 2009
Must Have: Transformer Watches
Our Transformer gadgets of the week (it certainly seems that often) are these watches from Transformer Kids. They don't really do much, no bells and whistles, but they certainly look menacing at an inexpensive price. Choose between Optimus and Bumblebee.
Sanuki Shokunin Super Noodle Server
The Sanuki Shokunin robot can make up to 700 servings of noodles in about an hour. Its settings can be altered to make different kinds, from Japanese soba to Chinese lo mein. While it is being used as an enticement for possible customers, maybe they could pair it up with Momozono for a complete ramen meal.
December 3, 2009
Toyota Plans Robots for Moonwalking
Maybe because they are having recall problems in their cars, Toyota is concentrating more on their robotic skills. Their Partner Robots and rover were formally introduced during a "Realization of Moon Exploration Using Advanced Robots by 2020." Note the upgrades that will include spring-loaded jumping mechanisms, exchangeable arms and back-mounted solar chargers.
Via Get Robo
PETA Urges Robotic Mascot Replacement
PETA seems to be at it again. Earlier they applauded the efforts of the St. Louis Zoo for replacing their polar bears with robobears, and now they are suggesting that the University of Georgia exchange their deceased bulldog mascot with an animatronic one. Assistant Director Kristie Phelps claimed, "It is time for the university to put an end to the cycle of suffering endured by dogs who are brought into the world solely to represent the school's 'brand'."
We poo-poo the comment and bet that the mascot was much loved and spoiled by all the attention.
Via Buster Sports
December 2, 2009
Zoo Plants Robotic Bears
When the St. Louis Zoo lost some of their polar bears, they decided to replace them with robotic ones as part of their holiday exhibit. PETA is dancing with joy as are we, since we don't believe in keeping wild animals in captivity except in natural wildlife reserves to save them. Still, if the trend catches on, zoos will begin to resemble Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree.
The Prez is Alert to Robot Attacks
As much as we admired President Obama before, we now know that he gets it. He recently made this comment at a Washington DC's Oakdon High School when admiring a robot named Cougar Cannon designed by its students, "As president, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering. And I also want to keep an eye on those robots in case they try anything."
Check the link for his full speech.
Via Washington Post
December 1, 2009
Beam Me Up, KAIST
KAIST engineers at HuboLab built HUBO FX-1 to assist the elderly and/or infirm. The 2m tall oversized chair resembles the command center on the Enterprise, weighs 150kg and can carry up to 100kg. It walks forward, backwards, and sideways, and is controlled by a built-in joystick. The company is working on getting it to climb stairs as well as increase its speed.
Via Plastic Pals
Monthly Roundup - November 2009
If you have finished gorging on turkey pot pie, turkey a la king, turkey sandwiches, turkey hash and any other dishes that use the leftovers, take a gander at our monthly roundup that included our Holiday Gift Guide as well as plenty of other endearing, yet fearful robots.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
Freedom Leg Replaces Crutches
Forward Mobility is seeking to make crutches obsolete. The Washington based company started out making bikes in the 90s and has moved on to medical mobility products such as a seated scooter and collapsible wheelchair. Their latest device is the Freedom Leg that allows the user to do what he/she has to while the weight is transferred to the upper leg.
Via Freedom Leg