The D'Andrea Group has developed a robotic chair that falls apart and reassembles itself on command. Remotely activating the chair causes it to break into six pieces: the legs, back, and seat. The seat then sprouts wheels, searches out its fallen comrades, reassembles, and then returns itself to an upright position. Check the video to see it in action. They say that the concept will ease future chair transportation, but it's safe to assume that a lot of other things in the future will assemble and disassemble on their own, like cars, computers, appliances, jigsaw puzzles, relationships, even sandwiches... Especially sandwiches.
Hewlett-Packard has designed a wearable camera prototype that is easily concealable in an "ordinary" pair of sunglasses. The camera can capture 1.3 megapixel images at 7.5 frames per second or .3 megapixel images at 30 frames per second, storing the images on a portable hard drive. The system continuously records images, but the wearer has to press a button on the device to store the previous 20 seconds and the following 5 minutes of footage on the hard drive. The hard drive will store approximately 3 hours of footage, which just about covers the length of time you will spend trying to convince people that there isn't a hidden camera in your goofy, oversized sunglasses.
Microsoft is hosting a "treasure hunt" contest in Singapore where they are giving away five Xbox 360s. The "Where is My 360?" contest places 5 webcams at different points on the island which broadcast on the contest's website. Singaporeans can go to the website to view the webcam feeds, and if they can find the exact location of one of the cameras, they will win an Xbox 360. However, if two people find the location of a webcam at the same time, they will fight to the death for the 360 in a televised battle airing on G4 and sponsored by Sprite. Now that's television!
Scientists are studying ants to help autonomous robots improve their navigation skills. Ants use landmarks to find their way in unknown territory, as well a system known as "path integrator," in which ants continually measure the distance traveled and directions taken in order to determine a straight route back to their home. This system is a reliable way to navigate, and many feel it could be beneficial to robots. Scientists plan to continue to study ants for robot technology, with an eventual goal of having thousands of tiny robots enter my house and start living in my kitchen and ruining all those pop tarts and my cereal and that last piece of cake that I was saving for a special occasion. Those greedy bastards.
The Alcohawk Micro is a $50 electronic alcohol breathalyzer that is small enough to carry on your keychain. The Alcohawk's simple one button operation and quick five second testing make determining your blood alcohol level so easy that even a kid can do it... which is what your kid will have to do when you're busy figuring out why you can't seem to stand up anymore. One AAA battery will last for 150 tests, or the equivalent of a weekend of trips between your favorite drive-through daiquiri stand and the nursing home where you fulfill the mandatory community service obligation from your last alcohol violation.
Sony researchers performed an experiment in which one of their biped robots was placed in a classroom to determine how kids adapt to robots. The study determined that children would spend up to twice as much time participating in activities when the robot was present in the room. The kids also began to care for the robot, helping it up whenever it fell and making conscious attempts to protect it from harm. The researchers said that the purpose of the sending a robot to school was to help improve robot technology, but it's obvious that they are just doing research for the inevitable update of the Not Quite Human series, Still Not Quite Human II Again: The Revenge. Nice try, Sony.