SALIX doesn’t exactly qualify for our bot category, but it comes fairly close. Displayed at the recent ArtBots 2006 Regional Show in NYC, these willow trees interact by means of motor prosthetics embedded in the root system. It sends numerical data messages via small GPS accelerometers implanted in the ends of the branches. Next thing you know, it is speaking to humans with a computerized voice. Creator John Lathram claims that his inspiration “came out of an attempt to record the movement of the wind as it moves through willow branches.” Check out his demo to see SALIX in action.
At the RFID/USN Korea 2006, SK Telecom unveiled a new system of ordering fast-food. You simply scan an RFID tag attached to the menu and pay for it via your cell phone. We think this will start a whole rash of being able to pay for services and/or products with your phone, thereby making the need for cash more obsolete every day. By the way, a MacDonald’s Big Mac value meal (which typically sells for $4.65 in the U.S.) will set you back KRW 4,900 ~($5) in Korea. We don’t even want to fathom a guess on what kind of meat they are using to make them.
The Aizu Central Hospital in Aizu-Wakamatsu (124 miles north of Toyko) has introduced Japan’s first receptionist and porter robots created by Tmusk. The receptionist welcomes you and answers inquiries, while the two porters carry your bags and take visitors and patients wherever they need to go. The porters move at a max speed of about 1 mph, stand about 4 1/2 feet high, and can also alert you if you are about to bump into something or someone.
Hospital spokesperson Naoya Narita says, “By introducing them, we want to show the scene of a future hospital, where robots are getting along with patients and visitors.” At a cost of 60 million Yen (~$508,000), the hospital is hoping to add a third porter next year. At that price, they ought to wait for the bot that does bedpans.
Tired of your Furby? Ugobe has just released the Pleo Life Form, designed from a fossil of the original Jurassic-period Camarasaurus. Referred to as a “designer species,” the week-old Pleo learns and reacts as he explores his environment with senses of sight, sound, and touch. Each one has a unique personality and is capable of expression, feeling differing emotions, and even sleeping and dreaming.
Pleo’s creators claim that the long-neck dinosaur exhibits the 3 laws of ugobe life forms, which are to feel and express emotions, become aware of itself and its environment, and evolve over time and adapt to that environment. Get two of them and they will recognize each other and even share a cold. Check out ugobe’s demo and see if you don’t immediately fall in love.
Read More | ugobe
We’ve brought you the good and the bad, now here’s the really ugly of robotics. Samsung, in cooperation with Korea University, has developed a machine gun-wielding Sentry Robot. With two zoomable cameras (one for daylight and one for infrared nighttime usage), they claim that it can detect the difference between humans, trees, and a machine gun. But can the bots tell the difference between civilians and bad guys?
They also have rather pleasant sounding voices that warn the intruder to surrender before getting shot. Going on sale for $200,000 sometime next year, plans are to disperse them between the borders of North and South Korea. If you are still curious, click on the tank shot on the translated page for a demo. If you are of the anti-war variety, stop buying Samsung.
Read More | GoRobotics
We found this U-Robo from the Korean company ED that wants to join in on our ever-growing bot family. The ED-7270 comes with software to program movements, actions and paths. He features a 1GHz IP processor, Ethernet, 512 MB RAM, WiFi, an RFID reader and a RS-232 serial port. Sporting a 6.4-inch touchscreen, U-Robo has voice recognition, can stand temperatures from about -55 to +150º C, and can balance himself on a 15-degree slope. There is no price or availability as yet, but we got him pegged for that first nasty snowfall of the season.
Read More | Aving
Mahru 2 bows, greets you, dances, turns, and walks at a rate of 1.0 km/h. He has voice, obstacle, face, and moving object recognition. The bot is a joint venture of Dr. Bum-Jae You from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Dr. Kyung Shik Roh of Samsung. Mahru and sister Ahra are network-based intelligence utilizing a network infrastructure. Upgraded from Mahru 1 and expected out in 2009, we’re thinking of giving our Mahru 2 a vacuum cleaner as a companion.
Static! has unveiled a Power-Aware Cord that visualizes the energy that is flowing through it. The more energy you use with this re-designed electrical power strip, the more it glows. Inventors Anton Gutafsson and Magnus Gyllensward are hoping that their invention will make you cut back on unnecessary appliances, stereo equipment, etc. Although still in production, if it is released before Christmas, you can cut out some of those outside strings of light, replace them with these, and no one will know the difference.
Read More | Static!
We might be too late with this one. Thinking that a robot restaurant would be a cool idea with AIC, the other Robo Waiter, and Winebot, it seems that Hong Kong’s Robot Kitchen has beat us to the punch. Robo Waiter 1 and 2 are the current staff, but aren’t nearly as amiable as the others we have shown you. “We thought robots would be a good gimmick,” said Peter Chow, who built the automatons working at the diner. “Now (that) they have caught on, we are having to upgrade and update them.”
The computer inside Robo Waiter recognizes voice patterns, takes orders, and sends them by infrared to the kitchen. Steered by a video camera, it can detect and avoid things in its path. Chow also says that they need more staff than normal to keep the machines going. Let’s not tell them about our idea and maybe we can still make a go of McRobots here in the States.
Read More | Space Daily
Want to get into your fave nightclub without the wait? The Baha Beach Club in Barcelona has implemented a microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, that can be injected under your skin. A 10-digit personal number then connects directly to your bank account. PR Manager Steve Van Soest says that the chip costs 125 EU (~$158) with 100 EU (~$126) credited to your account. With your VIP status, not only do you not have to wait in line, you don’t have to pay an entrance fee.
So far the chip is available only at The Baha Beach Club, but the European retail market is also looking into biometric payments. Although the UK Institute For Grocery Distribution’s survey claims that one in 10 teenagers and 1 in 20 adults would be willing to go along with this concept, just thinking about injecting that into our arms gives us chills.
Read More | AP Online Video Network