Technology On The Horizon: Robots Enter The Real World
02/14/2006 03:50 PM
In part three of his week-long series
"Technology On the Horizon,"
NY1 Tech Beat Reporter Adam Balkin finds out where robots might start fitting into our everyday lives.
Ever since "Lost in Space" and "The Jetsons" haven't we all been wondering when robots will finally become commonplace in our homes? Well, this may be the year, if you're willing to do some of the legwork.
Lego's new Mindstorm sets have been completely redesigned, giving everyone from kids to hardcore hobbyists the ability to create everything from animated toys to around-the-house helpers.
"We've created a new set where you get an intelligent brick, motors, and sensors, and you go and build your robot. You go on your computer, program the behavior of the robot, you download it, and off you go. You have created an autonomous working robot," says Mindstorm's Soren Lund.
Wow Wee Robotics, known for the Robosapien, is coming out with version two, the Robosapien media. This guy both entertains and helps protect your home.
"Through SD or USB interface, you can have multiple mp3s, mpeg4 movies, and pictures," says Wow Wee's Marc Kemper. "He's also got a built in camera. He can record audio and video, he walks around the room filming. In guard mode, he can record who is entering rooms."
Wow Wee is also putting final touches on the Segway robot, which balances on two wheels just like its larger namesake.
The Robonova1 performs balancing acts like a gymnast, but don't be fooled, this guy is designed for competition— the kind where two robots try to knock the wiring out of each other.
"They actually use a table like what is behind me, and they put two of the robots on the table. Essentially it's like sumo wrestling where they're trying to push the other robot off the table," says Glen Merritt of Hitec Robotics. "The user will program the robot to do the different functions whether it's a cartwheel, back flip or forward flip."
Finally, how about some robots our grandparents can both enjoy and really use? Like the bull of the robot world, OLogic's Flexo the Balancing Robot knows how to follow the color red, but he's actually a prototype concept that developers say could someday help people with disabilities.
"How does a person with a walker carry a plate of food? How do they take something to do the laundry? We've got a robot that can go ahead and follow that person with a walker carrying their food or their laundry back and forth for them," says OLogic's Bob Allen.
Since so many people can be wearing the color red or any color for that matter, so developers are working on having these guys recognize individual faces so they won't get confused.
- Adam Balkin
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