I've just returned from an amazing weekend at the second annual Maker Faire held in San Mateo, CA. The event is packed with booths featuring hundreds of inventors and crafters showing off their latest and greatest projects. We're still collecting our notes and getting our photos together, but here are a few projects we really enjoyed.
Just because there are robots that clean pools, dispense tissues and make omelettes (badly), you may have thought that they've come up with one for pretty much everything. But we're willing to bet you hadn't thought of this: a bot that's an expert on vinegar.
That's right, in Japan--land of the future human-free society--the Tamanoi Vinegar Corporation has just hired a robot made by Buildup to make presentations about its namesake product. The inspiringly named Tamanoi Vinegar Robot "has a mouth that moves in sync with its voice, as well as a fiber-reinforced … Read more
Who says all the good gadgets are in the big cities?
The sick bay in one small California town just got a lot more interesting. Healdsburg District Hospital, in Sonoma County, Calif., recently showed off a new addition to its staff, a remote-presence robot called RP-7.
RP-7 cruises around the hospital's hallways and, with its flat-screen TV for a head and two panning cameras for eyes, allows patients and doctors in one town to consult with other doctors or specialists hundreds of miles away. Sitting at a computer, a doctor can move the robot around a hospital in a … Read more
It could almost be the set-up for a vaudeville-style joke: How does a one-legged robot get to the hall of fame?
Two decades ago, a gadget called the 3D One-Leg Hopper marked a breakthrough in robotic locomotion. It looked a lot like a birdcage frame that landed on a pogo stick, but its agility--relatively speaking--set the stage for two- and four-legged robots that followed.
This week, Carnegie Mellon University paid homage to that peg-legged machine and a pair of its nimbler successors, inducting them into the school's Robot Hall of Fame. Also among this year's honorees is Lego'… Read more
If you've decided that you actually like creepy gadgets like eyeball-shaped speakers, you might find the following item a perfect accompaniment for you Addams Family household: a speakerphone with mechanical moving lips.
Going by the deceptively innocuous name of the "Hands-Free Desk Lips," this nightmare-inducing device clips onto any mobile handset and reacts accordingly when the caller begins to talk, according to Uber-Review. What makes it weirder still is its flat, eyeless head, which makes it look something like a miniature monster from Alien. Maybe that's why it goes so well with the eyeball speakers. If … Read more
Move over, Nabaztag--make room for "Wassup." B2 calls its latest creation "a fusion of technology and personality" that will hit the market in July for $25, but we say it's basically a bunny bot that dances to your tunes. Transfer songs from your iPod or MP3 player to this irritatingly named speaker-toy, and it promises to look like a futuristic version of the Energizer Bunny after a dozen triple espressos. Our take: Keep it away from the kids.
Domo can be said to be a descendant of MIT's two other famous robots Cog and Kismet, because it combines features of both. Like Cog it was built to duplicate human head, neck, arm and hand movement, and like Kismet, it's an anthropomorphic robot designed to be expressive and interact with humans on an emotional level.
These are the mechanical progeny of The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where much of the world's robotic magic happens. We toured the facilities at the Ray and Maria Stata Center (designed by … Read more
Maybe it was the influence of the Segway, but some spy bots apparently prefer to travel by two wheels. Earlier we saw the "Spy-Cye," for instance, which almost seemed to borrow its rather awkward design from the "Clocky" runaway alarm clock.
But as it turns out, the bi-wheeled surveillance robot seems to be something of a trend--even in the military. Developed according to Marine Corps specs, the remote-controlled "Recon Scout" is reinforced with titanium to withstand battlefield conditions and can "even be launched out of a mortar, or dropped from an unmanned aerial … Read more
We love those indefatigable cleaning twins, the "Roomba" and "Scooba," but they're yesterday's news. The "LawnBott"? It's OK, but we just can't get all that excited about cutting grass. But a gadget that seeks out and kills termites--now that's our kinda house-bot.
The "Termibot" uses video and thermal-imaging cameras to detect the presence of a nest and then blasts its hapless inhabitants with pesticides, all without the need to tear down walls. The current version, which Gizmag says is scheduled for release this year, uses a … Read more
Crave has seen all manner of remote-controlled spy bots, flying gadgets and even pirate ships with working catapults that kids can use to terrorize their families. But none can compare with the "Uncle Milton RC Tarantula." This horrible thing scurries, crawls and even has "a furry texture just like the real thing." As if that weren't enough, its eyes can light up just at the right moment (like on a pillow next to a napping parent's head). And for only $25, just in time for Mother's Day.