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RoboCup Rescuers Work through Mazes

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Misc. Tech, Science, Videos

Bots recently competed in Germany as part of the RoboCup to be held in July in China. A sub-competition, RoboCup Rescue, allows robots to practice on dolls in such critical situations as chemical spills and other disasters. Robotic teams must go through a maze and scores are based on how well they can navigate and generate a 3D map of the course. A Manipulation Challenge gives extra points for delivery of radios or water bottles to victims. Currently, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to scan the area and the same amount of time to create the image, but that should decrease as the bots become more advanced.


Read More | New Scientist Tech


Buick Riviera Concept

Buick Riviera

We didn’t really see anything to write home about with this Buick Riviera Concept, although it is obvious that they believe big grills will make a comeback. But when we looked around the back, we noticed some Chinese lettering. We were told that the car was made in China for the company and that the words translate into “Buick Future.” Be that as it may, we suspect that if American Car Companies spend more on concepts than on keeping their workers from losing their jobs, there won’t be much of a future left. More images after the jump.


Click to continue reading Buick Riviera Concept

Read More | NAIAS 2008

Gakken Recalls Smart Globes

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Corporate News, Misc. Tech, Toys

Smart GlobeTokyo’s Gakken has recalled 10,000 of their Smart Globes after customers complained about a mislabeling. Taiwan split from communist China in the late 40’s and is still being identified as part of the People’s Republic on the device. It seems that Gakken agreed to the factory based in Shenzhen, China to label the country “Taiwan Island” for its audio pen reader in order to get them manufactured. There have been so many complaints that the globes were recalled with full refund. A similar fate befell Takara Tomy’s Talking Globe, which was also made in China and similarly labeled.

Read More | Pink Tentacle

Chinese Toys Found to Have Possibly Lethal Consequences

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Corporate News, Editorial, Toys

Aqua Dots

More toys made in China have been recalled today. Scientists have discovered that a chemical in them is the equivalent of the date rape drug GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate,) which can cause seizures, drowsiness, unconsciousness, coma, or death.Two kids in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing beads in Bindeez and Aqua Dots. Used for arts and craft projects and sold in retail stores and over the Internet, the beads fuse together when sprayed with water. The toys, which were distributed in 40 countries, were made at the same factories, and most retailers, such as Toys ‘R Us, have taken them off their shelves.

Also recalled today were more than 400,000 toys because of high lead levels in paint. These include the Robot 2000, a Winnie-the-Pooh Spinning Top, and pull-back action cars imported by Dollar General Merchandising. The Chinese government has already issued an import ban on more than 700 toy factories in the southern Guangdong region because of poor products.

We are amazed at all the recalls that are still occurring and were flabbergasted when we read this:

“The news jolted the toy industry because Aqua Dots has been one of the few bright stars of the toy selling season, which, along with overall retailing, has gotten off to a sluggish start. The item, which had been heavily advertised, had appeared on many toy experts’ list of must-have holiday toys, and toy sellers are now in the midst of canceling advertising and scrambling to figure out how to replace it.”

Over 4.2 million units of Aquadots were made. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about what goes into our children than what makes them cool?


Read More | MSNBC

Mattel Continues Recalls with Barbie Accessories

Lead Test KitOnce again, Mattel has recalled over 800,000 items made in China with lead paint. This time the targets are Barbie accessories, Geo Trax Engines, and Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys. CEO Robert Eckert gives the usual obligatory “I’m sorry” and “You have my promise…” on the company site, but it really makes you wonder when/if the recall will be over.

While we would like to think that this will end the matter, somehow we don’t think it is a complete solution. What can we as consumers do? We can write to our legislators and contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to ask for stricter control. We also suggest you go to your nearest hardware store and pick up or order online a Lead Test Kit, which retails for only about $4.00. If you find a toy and can identify the brand, contact the company and/or send them the part. We certainly no longer agree with their old tagline “If it’s Mattel, it’s Swell.”

Read More | Mattel

Report: Xbox 360 To Launch In China

Posted by Christopher Sasaki Categories: Xbox 360

Xbox 360 A report from Reuters citing “industry sources” indicates that Microsoft may be set to offer the Xbox 360 in China within the next few months. The sources indicated to Reuters that Microsoft has been in talks with Internet service providers and PC makers, and has apparently started discussing a potential launch with the Chinese government. Apparently, the Chinese government requires content review of all video games sold in the country; with this approval, Microsoft could start selling the console as soon as the lunar new year. Launching in China would give Microsoft access to one of the fastest growing game markets in the world, but one where online gaming is generally more successful than console gaming, largely due to price point.

Read More | Reuters