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Month: April 2018

This soft robotic arm is straight out of Big Hero 6 (it’s even from Disney)

The charming robot at the heart of Disney’s Big Hero 6, Baymax, isn’t exactly realistic, but its puffy bod is an (admittedly aspirational) example of the growing field of soft robotics. And now Disney itself has produced a soft robot arm that seems like it could be a prototype from the movie. Created by Disney Research roboticists, the arm seems clearly inspired by Baymax, from the overstuffed style and delicate sausage fingers to the internal projector that can show status or information to nearby people. “Where physical human-robot interaction is expected, robots should be compliant and reactive to avoid...

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MIST paints your walls so you don’t have to

If you’ve ever painted a room you know that getting every nook and cranny is pretty difficult and Tim Allen help you if you have hardwood or carpet. The tarp alone costs more than the paint. Now, thanks to MIST, your robot can manage the entire job, slapping paint up like a robotic Jackson Pollock. The robot uses mapping technology and a sort of elevator-like neck to spray up and down walls. The team, which hails from the University of Waterloo, has finished their prototype and it’s called Maverick. The team has experience working at multiple big names including Apple and Facebook. It includes Shubham Aggarwal, Utkarsh Saini, Baraa Hamodi, Hammad Mirza, and Dhruv Sharma. This is just the beginning for Maverick. The team plans on adding other features that make it easier to use. “We actually plan on mounting a camera behind the sprayer so that it follows the sprayer up and down, and hence can use image processing to make decisions about whether to actuate the spray or not. We’ve already implemented this logic in software and even have a paint quality detection algorithm. That being said, we haven’t mounted the camera just yet as seen in this video,” the team said. As you can see below the project involves a platform, arm, and spray system. The robot maps the room and then rolls around, hitting spots...

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Native Union’s new speaker strikes directly at my weakness for tasteful brass accents

Bluetooth and smart speakers are a dime a dozen these days, and many of them aren’t bad — so what it often comes down to is style. Native Union has my number with its latest device, which accentuates the classic bookcase speaker look with a tech-heavy back end and brass volume knob. It’s a collaboration with French audio outfit La Boite Concept (roughly, “concept box”), which presumably did the sound-specific portions of the speaker — that is to say, the speaker — while Native Union brought its understated design chops to the bargain. My iPhone SE proudly wore a...

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Teradyne snatches up robot maker MiR in $272M deal

Teradyne, a prosaic-sounding but flush company that provides automated testing equipment for industrial applications, has acquired the Danish robotics company MiR for an eye-popping $148 million, with $124 million on the table after meeting performance goals. MiR, which despite the lowercase “i” stands for Mobile Industrial Robots, does what you might guess. Founded in 2013, the company has grown steadily and had a huge 2017, tripling its revenues to $12 million after its latest robot, the MiR200, received high marks from customers. MiR’s robots are of the warehouse sort, wheeled little autonomous fellows that can lift and pull pallets, boxes and so on. They look a bit like the little ones that are always underfoot in Star Wars movies. It’s a natural fit for Teradyne, especially with the latter’s recent purchase of the well-known Universal Robotics in a $350 million deal in 2015. Testing loads of electronics and components may be a dry business, but it’s a booming one, because the companies that test faster ship faster. Anytime efficiencies can be made in the process, be it warehouse logistics or assisting expert humans in sensitive procedures, one can be sure a company will be willing to pay for them. Teradyne also noted (the Robot Report points out) that both companies take a modern approach to robots and how they interact and must be trained by people — the old...

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The ONE Smart Keyboard Pro lets you tickle the ivories with ease

While the ONE Smart Keyboard Pro doesn’t have a sweet demo tune nor can it play barking dog Jingle Bells without some help, it can teach you or your kids how to play piano. The elegant keyboard has 88 weighted keys that simulate a true mechanical piano and connects to your phone so you can learn to play at your own pace. The Keyboard Pro costs $799 and is essentially a compact teaching keyboard. It can connect to your iOS or Android devices via an oddly shaped USB B cable and once it’s paired with the app you can run through simple songs – think Greensleeves – and more complex sheet music. This keyboard is weighted but not progressively which means that each key offers the same resistance, a consideration that might be important to some more experienced players. Further, you can connect a USB cable and connect the keyboard to your computer to use it as a MIDI controller. Again, this is a very austere keyboard. It doesn’t do much aside from teach you how to play which, in the end, is what most of us need. Because it doesn’t have the expansive bells and whistles of a Casio and because most of the smarts are in the app itself, it’s a bit of a hard sell for most people. However, if you’re looking to learn, the ONE...

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