Archive for February, 2007

Darpa wants Luke’s replacement hand from Star Wars

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
robotics limb

Thought-controlled robotic limbs were only the beginning.

hand.jpgScientists have had a string of remarkable successes lately, taking signals from the brains of monkeys and men, and using them to move mechanical arms.

Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research division, now wants to ratchet that work up about ten notches, by developing a “neurally controlled artificial limb that will restore full motor and sensory capability to upper extremity amputee patients. This revolutionary prosthesis will be controlled, feel, look and perform like the native limb.”

read more

via Digg

Robotic Therapy Helps Restore Hand Use After Stroke

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
robot hand helper

Science Daily — A robotic therapy device may help people regain strength and normal use of affected hands long after a stroke, according to a University of California, Irvine study.

Stroke patients with impaired hand use reported improved ability to grasp and release objects after therapy sessions using the Hand-Wrist Assisting Robotic Device (HOWARD).

Read full article

Google to rule the Earth

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

In a speech Friday night to the Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Google co-founder Larry Page let slip with a truth we all suspected:

“We have some people at Google [who] are really trying to build artificial intelligence (AI) and to do it on a large scale…It’s not as far off as people think.�

Yep, you read that right, Google is trying to build real AI. The worlds most dominant online company, with the largest conglomeration of computing power the world has ever seen, is trying to build artificial intelligence, and according to Page it isn’t that far away either. The term Googlebot is about to take on a whole new meaning, and in the not to distant future as well.

But Google is a good company, you may well say, after all Do No Evil is the company mantra. But true artificial intelligence not only has serious ethical and moral implications, self aware intelligence may also not be controllable, after all it thinks for itself and makes decisions based on that reasoning, as we all do. What if Google creates AI with the logical reasoning of Hitler or Stalin? or even George W Bush?

Food for thought…literally :-)

via 901am,  photo credit

HowTo: Measure a Vehicle’s Performance with a USB Accelerometer

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Ever wonder how to measure a vehicle’s performance using an accelerometer in a high level programming language? Well, Mike Harkabus has just put together a nice tutorial (with source) on Microsoft’s Coding4Fun Blog that explains how to do so. Called iAccelerate, “using basic physics equations, we can derive a vehicle’s current speed, distance traveled, horsepower, and other performance metrics from the acceleration of the vehicle”, all of which is written in Visual C# Express.

iAccelerate Form 1

iAccelerate Form 2

Since the Express languages are free, you can put this entire project together all for the price of the accelerometer (given that you have a vehicle to test and a laptop of course). The accelerometer used in this this tutorial is the Phidget 2-axis accelerometer, which happens to be under $70.

Inflatable exoskeleton

Friday, February 16th, 2007

This prototype “power jacket” from Matsushita Electric Industrial (parent of consumer electronics company Panasonic) is designed to help patients recover from partial paralysis. Sensors at the elbow and wrist allow a healthy arm to control the eight artificial muscles, which are powered by compressed air, on the paralyzed side. The 4-pound robotic jacket was on display Wednesday at the Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo.


via boingboing via Warren Ellis

OpenCV – Open Source Computer Vision Library

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Thanks to the hard work of 20 developers, there is an open source vision library, freely available to the public, named OpenCV.

This library is mainly aimed at real time computer vision. Some example areas would be Human-Computer Interaction (HCI); Object Identification, Segmentation and Recognition; Face Recognition; Gesture Recognition; Motion Tracking, Ego Motion, Motion Understanding; Structure From Motion (SFM); and Mobile Robotics.

Wondering about some credentials and how well this software works? OpenCV was used as the vision system of “Stanley”, the winning entry to the $2M DARPA Grand Challenge race of 2005.

Yahoo Group Stanley

Wondering what kind of a support community is out there for a vision library of such a caliber? There is a Yahoo Tech Group currently with 23,804 members who are contributing to this library’s success. If your interested in being a part of this community, join this group and find more out about this library and what you need to do to get started with implementing it in your own projects.

Convinced? I thought so. The library can be downloaded at the OpenCV Sourceforge Page, where more information can be found about the library as well.

via Intel

RFID Powder ?!

Thursday, February 15th, 2007
RFID powder

As if the various other permutations and teensyness of RFID weren’t wild enough, here comes Hitachi with its new “powder” 0.05mm x 0.05mm RFID chips. The new chips are 64 times smaller than the previous record holder, the 0.4mm x 0.4mm mu-chips, and nine times smaller than Hitachi’s last year prototype, and yet still make room for a 128-bit ROM that can store a unique 38-digit ID number. The main application is likely to be anti-counterfit, but since the previous mu-chips could be embedded into paper quite easily enough, we’re fairly certain Hitachi is just doing this for bragging rights and potential pepper shaker mixups. Hitachi should have these on the market in two or three years.

Via Engadet via pinktentacle 

Jazz-playing robot

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

This morning, as you were nursing your first cup of coffee, pawing through the sunday paper in search of the comics section, a strange thought popped into your brain. “Gee” your brain said, “I’d really like to see video of a freaky japanese robot playing John Coltrane’s solo from Giant Steps!”

link via boingboing

How To: Build a Radio Controlled Lawnmower for under $500

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

When you were a kid (or even now), didn’t you wish you could make mowing the grass fun by controlling it just like you do your RC cars/trucks? I know I did! Well, thanks to Terry Creer, we have an in-depth tutorial explaining how to build our very own radio controlled lawnmower, all for under $500. According to Terry, all this requires is, “A little electronic knowledge, soldering ability and mechanical know-how”

radio controlled lawnmower

Wheelchair – $150

Lawnmower – $200

Radio gear – $100

Electronic parts for joystick interface – $30

Total – $480

The satisfaction that you get from sitting on your porch and navigating this lawnmower around – Priceless!

Sure, now that I’m older, live in the burbs and have no lawn to mow, I find this tutorial!!

Since there are some people out there that just love to sue companies because of their own negligence: The tutorial link contained in this post is not from Trossen Robotics. Trossen Robotics does not assume any liability from damages as a result of constructing and/or operation of this radio controlled lawnmower.
via Hack-A-Day

How To: Interface a Phidget 8/8/8 Interface Kit with a LV-Maxsonar-EZ1

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Ever wonder how you would interact with a sonar sensor in high level programming languages? Well, we just put up a tutorial which shows you how to connect a MaxSonar EZ1 sensor to the analog port on a Phidget 8/8/8 Interface Kit. Not familiar with Phidgets? Phidgets are PC based development boards that allow you to interact with the outside world via any high level programming languages. Until now we were restricted to using various IR sensors to detect distance. Imagine the possibilities! We can’t wait to hear what sort of projects people come up with in the community. We’ve already started using these with our soon to be released modular decks.

Range Sensor Front
EZ1 888 connected
Now that your thinking outside the box… What will you build?Full tutorial can be found here. Check out the thread on this topic