NEC and Mie University have teamed up in Japan to create the 2-foot Winebot, a cute little bugger that can not only discern good wine from bad, it can also name the brand and suggest a cheese.
“There are all kinds of robots out there doing many different things,” said Hideo Shimazu, director of the NEC System Technology Research Laboratory and a joint-leader of the robot project. “But we decided to focus on wine because that seemed like a real challenge.”
Speaking in an underage voice, the robot names the brand and adds a comment to its taste. It can also be programmed to recognize wine that its owner prefers. Because of its ability to analyze the chemical composition of wine or food placed next to it, it could caution its owner about such health-related factors as fat or salt content.
Winebot doesn’t come cheap. “Buying one of these would cost about as much as a new car,” Shimazu said. “We’d like to bring that down to 100,000 yen ($1,000) or less for the tasting sensor if we were to put it on the market.”
We figure that if you can afford the wine and cheese, you can afford the Winebot.
Read More | USA Today
There are all kinds of toys for your iPod, but this one wins an originality prize in our book. Japanese company ZMP (in collaboration with Kenwood) today announced its new iPod dock, Miuro. Clip your iPod onto the top of Miuro and let the musical fun begin. This 9 pound, 14” wide bot can be programmed to literally follow you around the house or just let it do its pre-programmed “wild thang”. It can also stream music from your PC wirelessly.
Miuro is available in 4 colors and will become available in the U.S. later this year. Sold separately are various options such as a camera and sensors to keep it from running into your cat. At the hefty price of $930, you really have to love your iPod to buy it a pet like this.
While we’re on the subject of all things froggish, can it really be 25 years since the hatching of Frogger? In honor of the event, PDP (Performance Designed Products) and Konami have teamed up to create the “Tablet”, a portable gaming system that will be available to North American retailers in September. Housed in a round shell, the Tablet contains 25 8-bit classic games at a SRP of $29.99. Available in four colors, the system features a 2.0” backlit TFT LCD display screen.
Paul Chen, VP of Licensing and Content at PDP claims, “Additional 8-bit games on the ‘Tablet’ offer even more retro fun for older gamers who played these games decades ago, along with new gamers who will be introduced to them for the first time.”
For an additional $9.99, you can purchase an A/V cable for plug ‘n play capabilities on your TV. This kit also includes a protective case so that our favorite amphibian remains dust free and ready dodge cars and gators when you are. For a sneakpeak at other games included, check out the interactive website: http://www.vgpocket.com/.
ThinkGeek’s LighTalk Scanner is having its second coming out party. Simply draw an image on a piece of paper, scan it, switch and fan it, and you have a 4” x 7” image that will outshine everyone at the next 4th of July picnic. Get two of them, and you and your buds can flash back and forth.
Not only does the new and improved model scan faster, it contains 8 image banks to store your designs. Even better, the new sequential display allows you to show animated graphics or a paragraph of text. LighTalk is 8.5” long with a 1” diameter and scans best when used with a .2” black Sharpie (doesn’t everything work better with a Sharpie?).
LighTalk utilizes 2 AAA batteries (not included) for over 10 hours of continuous display and is available in three body colors. At a price of $39.00, LighTalk II comes with wrist strap and instructions.
Read More | ThinkGeek
Chances are that your child won’t rip this MP3 player up anytime soon. This is Bandy the teddy bear, from a European company called Mogoon. Bandy is can play MP3s and WMAs that are stored on an SD card that you insert into a slot in his back.
For the protective set, we have these details: Bandy is dust-proof and splash-proof (although we question those claims based on the photo, which seems to show that the little guy is made of material that would seem to attract dust and liquids). He is also said to be able to survive falls of up to 2 meters - his would be the music player, of course. Bandy himself could probably survive a fall off a skyscraper or a trip down a raging river.
Look for Bandy exclusively in Europe this fall and then elsewhere shortly thereafter, for just $88 USD.
Read More | http://www.konstant.de/index.php?id=638
WowWee demonstrated for us their new Roboreptile, a “quicker, more cunning” version of their Roboraptor. We must have missed the memo explaining that “quicker” and “more cunning” were now euphemisms for “spastic” and “utterly stupid.” Suffice to say, this interview was a brilliant exercise in professional courtesy, as we had to try our best not to break down and laugh as the pathetic, over-priced, and bizarre robotic toy (which we wouldn’t pay $20 for at Radio Shack) nearly flailed itself right off the table in a fit of white, melodramatic, plasticy rage.
This all makes for a very stark contrast to the Ugobe Pleo, a dinosaur-based artificial life form that features three times the sensors, intelligence to keep it from walking off a table, and the ability to communicate with other Pleo’s, along with a ton of other innovative features.
When asked about a successor to the sorry, largely pointless Roboreptile, we receive a “no, not really anything planned” which made the interview all the more special.
We can’t quite grasp what would encourage someone to throw away $120 at a crappy plastic dinosaur that doesn’t really do much but seize and fall over, but perhaps there’s a market in people who don’t really know any better. Stay away from this novelty at all costs.
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What to get for your budding engineer offspring? How about a hydrogen fuel cell toy car? Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has patented a toy car with its own hydrogen fuel cell and requisite hydrogen fueling station. The fueling station uses solar energy to power the process of producing hydrogen from water via electrolysis and is complete with flashing blue LEDs (to excite the young scientist of course). From there the hydrogen can be transfered to the car’s fuel cell for powering its electric motor. Since the amount of hydrogen used is rather small, the process is quite safe and is an interesting look at where the future of automotive power may lay.
Not currently available, the toy car is rumored to be priced at $80 when released. One thing that’s interesting to note is that per Horizon’s brochure, the fueling station is listed as being sold seperately. That seems a bit odd for something fairly pivotal to the whole concept.
Possibly invested with the same technology built into annoying children, the Zero Gravity Wall Climber may not be able to make you climb walls, but it sure can. Simply drive towards an unoffending wall and as the front wheels start to pull the vehicle up the vertical surface and past 45 degrees, fans in the vehicle’s base will come on allowing it to suction itself right onto the wall. A flexible skirt around the bottom helps the Zero Gravity to maintain a positive seal, and a full function remote control enable it to zip around in any direction. Wall mouldings are obviously a bit bothersome to the Zero Gravity as it requires a smooth surface, but a slight incline will help mitigate the offending bumpy parts and easily solve the problem. Before you get started though, you should consider removing any important paintings/pictures from the wall before you go tearing across it.
Available for $60 USD just about everywhere.
First spud guns, and now the Toilet Paper Cannon. Essentially a glorified spud gun, the homemade contraption launches rolls of toilet paper gracefully through the air. Unlike potatoes, rolls of toilet paper have this rather inconvenient hole (well, inconvenient for use as a projectile anyway) right through their centers. This necessitates the use of wadding to ensure successful launches, but should not in any way impede your participation in TP’ing your neighbors house. Not that we would condone such a thoughtless act. Nope, not us . . . uh-uh, no way . . . well . . . just don’t get caught okay?
Plans are available for approximately $10 USD.
While never having experienced the phenomenon myself, I hear that dogs like to get a hold of miscellaneous items with the intent to chew them to shreds. Of course, this would be particularly bad if Fido grabbed hold of an expensive gadget. Now, replace your iPod with an iPaw, and the internal squeaky toy keeps your dog at bay for hours on end (we would imagine.) The “device” features a tiny dog print where the click-wheel might be, and a gray (silver) back with a larger paw print. The iPaw is about 5-inches tall, and retails for $10.50.