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[9 Dec 2011 | One Comment | ]
Enter the Metaverse – Sony HMZ-T1 and Epson BT-100 Review

Japan is a land of myriad wonders. A technological smorgasbord. The great minds that brought us karaoke, MSG and Hayabusa also conjured up the laser disk, MD and Virtual Boy. The next frontier for Japan’s electronics community seems to be head-mounted displays. (I’m sure the product development team at Sony pitched it something like, “Virtual Boy wasn’t a conceptual failure, it was the implementation dummy!”) So, if you go down to your local Yodobashi Camera right now you can try out two nifty head displays.
The two offerings available to date …

Featured, Robots »

[8 Dec 2011 | 5 Comments | ]
Robot with Chainsaw goes Wild in Crowd!

So I’m doing my nightly youtube surfing, checking out some videos of International Robot Expo 2011 when I found this and my jaw dropped.

What the hell was that?! But then I thought to myself; I was there, I don’t remember seeing that particular “ROBOTOM” humanoid and none of the robot blogs I follow reported anything about any accidents, that would have definitely been big news. And was that a chainsaw that I heard? Why hell would there be a robot at an expo with a chainsaw? Then I saw “Botex” …

Featured, Gadgets »

[6 Dec 2011 | One Comment | ]
Stretchable Elastic Electrical Cable

Spandex makers Asahi Kasei Fibers have used their expertise on stretching to develop the world’s first elastic electrical cables. This invention called ROBODEN is to be used in the field of autonomous robotics to reduce the amount of space taken up by conventional wiring. Wiring in robotics usually has to be long enough to allow parts to move freely about their full range of motion. The problem is; there can be a mess of loose wires when the parts contract, ROBODEN stretches and contracts with the movement of the parts …

Featured, Gadgets »

[3 Dec 2011 | One Comment | ]
Toyota’s Smartphone Card – Fun Vii [Video]

Minds were blown at Tokyo Motor Show 2011 with Toyota’s unveiling of their concept car for the “not-too-distant future”, the Fun Vii (Vehicle, Interactive, Internet). This is a car whose entire surface; both interior and exterior is a full color display. The vehicle is able to change color, display images and video, and also interact with the driver as would any internet connected personal computing device.

Their really flashy video presentation showed the driver using an augmented reality display while driving, snapping a photo with his smartphone and the transferring …

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[22 Nov 2011 | 3 Comments | ]
3D Printing, from SciFi Replicators to Reality

Obvious to any Star Trek fan would be the three iconic words used by Captain Jean Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise to summon his hot beverage of choice: “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot”.
In my mind, 3D printing has always been a technology that, similar to the warp drive and transporter technology, remained well beyond what could even be achieved in my lifetime.  Over the past few years however, there have been great leaps forward not in the technology of replication, but in its cousin, 3D printing.
While there are fundamental differences …

Featured, Robots »

[21 Nov 2011 | No Comment | ]
Japanese Kids Play Dentist with Simroid Robot

At the International Robot Exhibition 2011, robot makers Kokoro gave kids in a attendance the chance to play dentist with their dental training robot Simroid.

Simroid was nicknamed “Pain Girl” due to her sensitivity to pain and ability to notify dental trainees of her discomfort. She was modeled to look as close to a 28 year old Japanese woman as possible and responds to touch with human like movements and facial expressions. This so that the trainee will feel as if he/she is working with a real patient. She as also …

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[17 Nov 2011 | One Comment | ]
Designer Prosthetic Limb may give Amputees a Unique Expression of Style.

Industrial designer and University professor Shunji Yamanaka has recently posted a photo of a prosthetic leg he’s developing. What’s interesting about this prosthetic is that it makes no attempt at looking like a real leg but sports an elegant futuristic design.
According to the Prof. Yamanaka about 8,000 Japanese people need prosthetic limbs, however most choose not to wear them as it is very difficult to find ones which are convincing enough to pass of as real. So he was inspired to create fully functional prosthesis that are in and of …

Featured, Robots »

[16 Nov 2011 | No Comment | ]
Teddy Bear Robotic Pillow Stops Snoring with a Paw to the Face

Sleep apnea is a condition in which sufferers have abnormal pauses in breathing while sleeping, resulting in low blood oxygen levels. It’s usually characterized by acute snoring and symptoms include daytime drowsiness and constant fatigue. This condition is sometimes so severe, surgery is needed. So when researchers from Wasaeda University sought to tackle this problem, their solution was… A robotic bear pillow.

The robot monitors the sleeper’s blood oxygen levels via a pulse meter worn on the hand. Readings are checked against a program which has the patient’s vital statistics. The …

Featured, Gadgets »

[15 Nov 2011 | 2 Comments | ]
“Aerial 3D” True 3D Hologram Projector

I came across this awesome hologram projector exhibited by Burton Inc at DC Expo 2011. What makes this device impressive, is that it actually produces true 3D images. Unlike other holographic devices that rely on trickery such as overlapping 2D images to give the illusion of 3d, the Burton hologram is formed by points of light generated in actual 3D space.

The device shown at the expo was a scaled down version of their “Aerial 3D” technology called the SRV-5000 (Super Real Vision). In the past, Burton has displayed larger 3D …

Featured, Robots »

[15 Nov 2011 | No Comment | ]
6 Robots that *Don’t* Take People’s Jobs

Let’s face it. Robots are cool, but nobody wants them.
You hear it all the time: “Why don’t you just ask a human to fold towels/entertain/vacuum/work on an assembly line? Do we really need them? Why robots, when I can just hire my favourite minimum wage immigrant?” The questions are hard, but true.
The business of robots is bleak. Outside of research and education, robots in Japan and abroad are now sold to companies as crowd-draws. What happens when the novelty wears off?
Let me tell you what I think:
What we need are …