There is always one person at every gathering that wants to play ping pong to the point that you just want to paddle him/her. What better gift than Newgy's Robo-Pong? Available in 3 models and several packages, the basic entry level 540 has low speed and frequency levels and a manual trajectory change. The package includes a ball thrower, bucket, control box, transformer, connection cable, and 48 robo-balls at a price of $229.00. Go for the premium Robo-Pong 2040 and it will capture and toss back for $695.00. Note that the commercial call its "ultimate opponent" a new species.
Times have certainly changed since "It's a Small World" was created at Disneyland. Take a peak at this huge Mr. Potato Head, part of Disney's new attraction at two of their theme parks. The animatronic veggie took about two years to create, features the voice of comedian Don Rickles, and is the barker in the Toy Story Midway Mania. Disney worked with Pixar to create the head who speaks about 20 minutes worth of banter and is the first animatronic figure to move its lips. He can also remove and replace his own ear. Too strange!
We declare this honorary Wall-E Day! If you are going to miss the premiere or want to avoid the audience of screaming kidlets, here's a taste of what you missed. You go, bot!
We figure this is a great way to introduce Must Have Robot Friday, because how could you not want this little guy to hang with?
By the way, Ben Burtt speaks for the diminutive robot. He is mostly known for his creaturely voices that include Chewbacca, E.T., and a host of sound effects for various movies. Don't tell anyone, but we hear the lightsaber noise from Star Wars came by mixing the sound of an old 35mm projector with a TV tuned between channels.
And yet another kewl gadget devised by someone using Lego's NXT Mindstorm has been introduced. Mike D'Amour had the original idea, and Will Gorman built and kindly provided instructions so that you can build your own toilet flushing robot. The RoboFlush gives you the option of a manual flush as well. If the duo could figure out how to get it to clean the thing, now that would be worth the investment.
Meet The Trons, a robot band that only need humans for programming. It seems that the unique musical group has its own following and MySpace page with over 200 friends. Made from recycled and salvaged parts, and based in New Zealand, Ham (vox and rhythm guitar,) Wiggy (single string lead guitar,) Swamp (drums,) and Fifi (one hand keyboard) are proof positive that music is in the ear of the beholder. And by the way, if a robotic band plays in a club with only a robotic audience to hear it, does it still make a noise?
We know that there are just as many adults as kids that dig Lego's Mindstorm NXT, so we applaud the efforts of Anders Søborg's NXT Image Scanner. Utilizing a HiTechnic color sensor, the scanner saves in 24-bit true color, 8-bit color, or gray scale. The design also has a small LCD menu to set up properties. Best of all, Anders shares his knowledge with the world, so the very least we could do is pass on his instructional DIY video.
Tomy's iSOBOT has the distinction of being Guinness' "smallest humanoid robot in production." The 6 1/2" high bot can do somersaults, push-ups, stand on one leg, and a smattering of kung fu. With 80 pre-programmed movements that can result in 240 in a sequence, he will respond to verbal commands. The little guy can say over 200 words and phrases, can recognize up to ten different voices, and plays a mean air guitar. iSOBOT has been created with 17 servomotors, a gyro-sensor to keep his balance, and 17 different points of sensitivity. Best of all, he can be yours for $199.99.
What do you get when you cross an iPhone with a Lego Mindstorm NXT Robot? You get a Legophone or perhaps it is an iNXT programmed with NXJ and a Safari Web application. Whatever you call it, we think it is too cool. As soon as we can afford all the necessary ingredients, we just may make one for ourselves. Our props to "willgorman" and his cleverness. You can find the DIY instructions at BattleBricks.
Oddly enough, only a couple of hours after finding the Stickybot, we discovered Waalbot, fresh out of Carnegie Mellon. The wireless, tetherless bot is also based on a gecko, with tri-legs of fiber-made foot pads with spatula tips to help it stick to a surface. The creature can go up to 90º on walls and ceilings with a PIC microcontroller to help it move along. Researcher Mike Murphy says that they are working on a balance between small size and the ability to carry items (i.e. cameras.)
Next time you hit a Dutch library, you just may see Jelte van Geest's Take_a_Seat prototype. Created for the Openbare Bibliotheek Endhoven, a library design project, each chair is designed with an RFID chip. When a user passes his card over it, the friendly furniture follows him/her around until the sittee decides to settle in. Best of all, when the person is done, the Take_a_Seat returns to its charging station, a la Roomba. We think this would be a nifty idea in a crowded bar or when waiting in line for tickets, and we hope that Jelte's next design features a backrest.