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)

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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

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December 15, 2009

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

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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

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November 21, 2009

Robot Snob 2009 Holiday Gift Guide

clocky.jpgWe know that holiday shopping can be a major hassle, so we went all out to find robotic stuff to fit every budget. The good news is that almost every company has lowered their prices and when you shop online, tax and shipping charges are often non-existent. That being said, we present our 2009 Holiday Guide.

Robot Kits

elencofollow.jpgAfter building the Elenco Follow Me Robot, its 4 built-in microphones detect sounds and it will move towards them. For kids 12 and older, it needs no soldering and needs 4AA batteries (not included.) The Discovery Kids Biped EZ Robot kit has 15 pieces to assemble and a remote for those over 8.

dartharm.jpgWhy get a usual Waldo when you can get a Darth Vader Robotic Arm? The snap together kit grips and holds objects, needs no batteries and includes a stand with built-in control. With the Rockit Robot kit, you can build one that has a touch sensor that learns not to run into walls, a sound sensor for responding to your voice and instructions with more than one project.

phoenix.jpegFor serious robot builders, Trossen has some great deals. Their Phoenix Hexapod Kit is as state of the art as it can get with several walking gaits with omnidirectional translation and body rotation on all axis. The SumoBot Kit provides you with everything you need to become a competitor in the realm of Mini-Sumo tournaments.

Robot Movies

michaelrennie.jpgMovies, including Blu-ray, are completely affordable these days. We can never get enough of the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still" with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, even better now that it comes in a 2-disc set. Younger generations will appreciate the 2008 version that stars Keanu Reeves.

terminatorsalvation.jpgKids will also dig the effects in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Terminator fans, we haven't forgotten you. The Director's Cut of "Terminator Salvation", starring Christian Bale, will soon be out. And we never get enough of viewing "Wall-E".

roomba560.jpgOf course, no one can compete with iRobot when it comes to vacuums, and for the holidays they are offering special deals. In fact, this year we are putting one under our tree. Purchase a 400 series and get a free pet upgrade. A 500 series includes a brush pack and a 300 series Scuba will get you either cleaning solution or replenish kit. And, by the way, shipping is free with purchases over $59.00.

Collectors' Items

r2d2collector.jpgThere is no way to compete with Schylling. We recommend the Small Lilliput, the High Wheel and our fave, the Chrome Planet Robot. This R2-D2 is part of the original figures from the first Star Wars and is a limited edition with its interlocking base and electronic beeps.

Robotic Pets

whitetiger.jpgWowWee's Alive White Tiger Cub has realistic fur with sensors in his head and back to respond. He makes baby feline noises and works by remote. The company puts out a whole slew of robotic pets including their Mini Leopard Cub.

ptrex.jpgAlso furry is Playskool's Stomper's Triceratops that we recently reviewed and personally adored. Playskool also puts out Monty T-Rex who not only moves and roars, he sneezes and plays tunes.

mrsquiggles.jpgWe had to include one of this year's hottest toys. Zhu Zhu Hamsters may replace Elmo. They chirp, zip across the floor and each has their own personality. Choose between Mr. Squiggles, Pipsqueek, Num Nums and Chunk. Try to remember at some point that your kid(s) will want the Go Go Funhouse and the Adventure Ball. (Hurry up when ordering these guys as they were featured on "Nightline," so you know they are going to sell out quickly.)

The FurReal Chocolate Lab Puppy can be a fun and worry free pet. And, although he has no fur, we had to include Interactive Wall-E.

Under $50.00

The 10 1/4" Robbie the Robot Talking Alarm Clock says, "Wake Up Wake Up" as his chest moves, strobe lights go off and his antenna spins. Clocky will amuse kids or force your spouse/partner out of bed in the a.m. as he jumps from your nightstand up to 3 feet high.

The first robot designed for girls (and boys who like them,) Tekno's Sakura
tells fortunes, gives compliments and fashion tips, dances and answers "yes" and "no" questions. The macho XPV R.A.D. Robotic Air Defense flies as fast as 30 mph and up to 20 stories. It comes with rechargeable battery and includes repair kit.

buzzlgtyr.jpgNow that Toy Story has been re-released in 3D, you probably know someone who would love this electronic Buzz Lightyear. He talks, makes sound effects, his wings pop out and he can take anyone to infinity and beyond. Don't forget about Tribot, who is about half the price that he was last year.

Under $20.00

The Unofficial Lego Mindstorms NXT Inventor's Guide (Paperback) will give any robotics freak fresh ideas. If history is more to his/her liking, Robot traces back AIs from their roots.

Wind-up Gort will walk even if you forget to say "Klaatu barada nikto." The Hog Wild Robot Calculator displays up to 8 digits and will be your best friend. His arms can hold pens, pencils and included nightlight, while his magnetic back holds paper clips.

handy.jpgWe already told you about Chuck, the talking truck, and it seems that Tonka has an entire series of his pals (a couple of them a bit over $20.00.) Choose from Rowdy, the GarbageTruck, with spinning wheels, Boomer, the Fire Truck, who has lights and makes noise, and Handy, the Tow Truck, that can fetch the other three should they get lost. They may not respond like Chuck, but they are just as cute and colorful.

Under $10.00

minifemi.jpgThe 9" Mini-Femisapien runs on batteries, is posable and trots around the room. We didn't realize that Shrinky Dinks were still around until we found these robotic ones.

Nerds will love the fact that Olive Kids customized their Robot Bookmark. Remember to include a Kikkerland Cranky Desk Toy on your list for any friends who are stuck in cubicles all day.

Stocking Stuffers Under $5.00

voltwindup.jpgDover's Create Your Own Robot Sticker Activity Book would make a great stocking stuffer. Wind-up Volt is about 2" tall and can repair your other robots. The Cool Robot Note Pad measures 5 x 6" and has 50 sheets per pad.

The Mini Robopanda is only 7.5" but is tall enough to have poseable head and legs and blinking LED eyes. Wear your robot on your sleeve jacket or shirt with an Iron On C3PO.

Over $100.00

We cannot imagine any kid (or adult) wouldn't love a LEGO Mindstorm this year, especially since the NXT 2.0 was released. For the princess (or Prince) in your life, think Butterscotch the Pony that moves her head, blinks, wags her tail and responds to humans.

idsobot.jpgDino freaks will prefer the roaring, laughing and movements of the 3 ft. tall
Kota and Pleo has been newly reborn. Tomy's I-SOBOT is half the price that it was last year.

Last but not least, don't forget the batteries! This should be your year to go eneloop. We have been using them for 2 years now in various small electronics and they are still going strong.

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November 5, 2009

Ibn Sina to Unite Physical and Virtual World

Named after a Persian physician and philosopher from 1000 years ago, Ibn Sina is the first Arabic speaking humanoid bot. He is being developed at the IRML (Interactive Robots and Media Lab) of the United Arab Emirates University. His vocal engine, dubbed Nizar, was built by the French company Acapela.

The center claims that its ultimate mission is "to achieve harmonious and mutually beneficial co-existence (symbiosis) between the natural (humans), the artificial (robots), and the virtual (virtual agents), and to support seamless integration between the physical and virtual worlds."


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November 3, 2009

Robo Garage Gives Birth to ROPID

ROPID is the Robo Garage's latest creation, with design by Tomotaka Takahashi. The humanoid bot has gyros in its legs and chest and servos with belts that help the little guy stand up, walk, jump and jog. Made of carbon and plastic, he stands 38cm high, weighs 1600g, has 30º of freedom and, as of all of RG's bots, is almost too cute.

Via Robot Garage

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November 2, 2009

Robotic Patient Used To Train H1N1 Workers

As is often the case in Japan, if you want people to take notice, you develop a robot for the cause. In this instance, a life-size humanoid was built for training health care workers how to respond to the H1N1. On display at the Security and Safety Trade Expo (RISCON) in Tokyo, the robotic patient sweats, cries, moans, goes into convulsions and, if the workers don't perform correctly in time, stops breathing. We wonder how many times he had to 'die' before they got it right.

Via Pink Tentacle

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October 19, 2009

Beware of Robots Killing You While You Sleep


Every once in a while we find another "robot turns on owner" study and the latest concerns security issues. Tadayoshi Kohno, a University of Washington assistant professor, feels that they may not become evil as they become smarter. He claims, "There is a much greater and more near-term risk, and that's bad people who can use robots to do bad things."

During a study done during the past year, Kohno and his team found security weaknesses in Spykee, Rovio, and RoboSapien V2.These are their results:

  • The robots' presence is easily detected by distinctive messages sent over the home's wireless network.
  • The robots' audio and video streams can be intercepted on the home's wireless network or in some cases captured over the Internet.
  • Only some robots give an audible or other alert when a user logs on, letting people nearby know that someone new is accessing the data.
  • Only some robots periodically generate a noise or other signal when stationary, reminding people nearby that the robot is collecting data.

So remember, when you turn in tonight, take out the batteries of your bot before he/she smothers you with your pillow. And tomorrow, run out and grab a mini-cowbell so that you can hear him/her coming.

Via Science Daily

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October 13, 2009

Miim Gets Personal with Vocaloid

At last week's CEATEC conference in Tokyo, Yamaha unveiled their updated fashion model HRP-4C. Equipped with Vocaloid, not only does Miim look a little less creepy, she now has the ability to sing via iPhone. Of course, she does so in Japanese. Still, this goes to prove there is an app for almost anything.

Via CEATEC Japan 2009

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