CES 2016: Robots

   
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CES 2016: Robots

 

Voice control wasn't turned on during our demo, but I was able to use the app (for Android and iOS) to control the robot's movements, like turning around, waving, sitting, nodding and so on. The same applies to its other functions, too. It's pricy and questionably useful, but the Alpha 2 is darn cute

LAS VEGAS---Being a supercomputer armed with cognitive learning powers, IBM Watson has plans to grow more powerful and maybe even omnipresent in 2016.

The machine learning wunderkind has an ambitious year ahead of itself with a bevy of new connected alliances made by possible by the wave flooding the Consumer Electronics Show this week: the Internet of Things.

The first step for introducing Watson into people's lives -- beyond what they might have seen on Jeopardy! -- is getting Watson into people's homes.

IBM has already made baby steps here through a variety of app experiments, including a collaboration last year with celebrated food magazine Bon Appétit, bringing the glossy's vast library of thousands of recipes accumulated over the year online and into a database for further culinary innovations.

But while connecting Watson to traditional home appliances -- many of which are now coming online thanks to the proliferation of the Internet of Things -- might foster awareness for machine learning capabilities faster.

Whirlpool has signed up to bring IBM Watson's cognitive analytics, data management and protection services to its connected home appliances. Taking that deal and synergy even further, Whirlpool Corporation has subscribed to IBM Cloud Business Solutions to study the real-time data funneling in from appliances with the intention of introducing new features -- either blanket or customized -- based on customer usage in the future.

Healthcare has already long been heralded by Big Blue as one of the sectors ripe for improvement thanks to Watson. Fitness is often a more popular thread of healthcare on the docket at CES each year, and IBM isn't missing out as it has teamed up with Under Armour.

Parents worried about how to mold their three-year-olds into computer programmers will be relieved to know that Fisher-Price is on the case, starting with a toy caterpillar.

The company will debut its $50 Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar tonight at Pepcom's Digital Experience, a pre-CES media event, though the toy won't be available to buy until this summer. Instead of getting not-yet-potty-trained kids to code with a screen and keyboard, this plastic caterpillar uses more subtle tactics: it teaches the basics of coding, like sequencing and programming, with segments of the caterpillar's body. Each of these eight segments is labeled with different symbols and colors. Kids put them together, attach them to the caterpillar's smiling, blinky-eyed, motorized head, and press a button to get the whole toy to move.

Following its successful Kickstarter campaign, the Fleye drone made its debut at CES 2016 this week. The $1200 UAV is designed, first and foremost, with safety in mind. Its main rotor is encased in a plastic cage which in turn is wrapped in lightweight, impact resistant plastic. The unit also incorporates a sonar unit, six other sensors and a down-facing camera to help it both avoid obstacles and navigate via computer vision. The entire unit weighs just one pound -- uncannily light, given that it's roughly the size of a basketball. It's also outfitted with a 5 megapixel 1080p camera. The Fleye only has enough battery life for about ten minutes of flight time, however, thanks to its open source API and SDK, the UAV can easily be programmed for autonomous flight.

Double Robotics, maker of bare-bones and comparatively inexpensive telepresence robots, just announced Double 2 at CES, its biggest product launch to date. With some needed improvements, this entry-level telepresence solution may be the product to blow the category wide open.

A couple weeks ago I got a chance to preview Double 2 from the comfort of my home. After logging in with some borrowed credentials, I was virtually transported from Los Angeles to Burlingame, CA, near San Fran. Before me, in a large, empty room set up for such demos, stood Double Robotics co-founder and CEO David Cann.

"Hey David."

"Hi Greg, nice to see you."

Spooky. He could see me, I could see him, and I could move. Skype left me well-prepared for the video conferencing, but the ability to move completely changed the experience.

But first things first. I noticed that I--er, my virtual self--was looking up at David. I'm 6'4" in real life so if I'm going to be virtually present I'm going to be a virtual tall drink of water. With the click of a mouse my robot neck extended and I was more comfortably face-to-face with my interlocutor.

Double 2 is not a ground-up redesign of the original. Instead it's a nice refinement. It still looks a bit like a broomstick mounted on a hoverboard carrying a tablet, which, save for some fancy engineering and wireless controls, it is. You control the device at home through your browser. Like the original Double, the Double 2 costs $2,499 for the base model (tablet not included). A backwards compatible external camera kit for the iPad costs an additional $249.

WowWee has always been prety good with robotic toys, and CHiP here is no exception. CHiP comes equipped with a frame that while might not stand up to the standards that Iron Man has, is still a solid polycarbonate structure that is accompanied by Mecanum wheels which allows it to move in virtually any direction, not to mention avoid obstacles as and when required. In short, CHiP is like your regular pooch – he has been created to play, and CHiP was demonstrated to “fetch” a ball, or rather, “run” after it when it detected the ball in the vicinity. It will require a special ball however with sensors inside, so do take note of that.

So far, we have not seen CHiP work on surfaces other than that of a carpeted area, so it remains to be seen whether CHiP would perform just as admirably well on anywhere else other than the carpet. CHiP also boasts of a SmartBand wristband that enables the user to teach him new tricks – and these tricks are available only via the CHiP app. The SmartBand works by triggering CHiP’s patented Loyalty Sense technology, letting him follow you like a good pet dog should.

t's a very simple system that allows you to transform any object in everyday life into a connected device," said company founder Rafi Haladjian at a preview showing ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The device uses specially designed "motion cookies," which the company calls "magical sensors" that detect movement, temperature, patterns and more. The tiny cookies are attached to the devices the user wants to monitor.

Around 16cm tall, Mother can be plugged into a home network and monitor up to 24 objects.

"This is not science fiction, it's not gesture-based control," said Haladjian."It's normal everyday things like brushing your teeth or taking medicine. We have a cookie [sensor] inside which makes these more useful without learning new gestures or installing new applications."

Sen.se expects to ship Mother later this year, at a price of $222 with four cookies, and $99 for a set of four additional sensors.

Humans love to describe robots as "creepy," a knee-jerk dismissal that ignores the potential impact of even the most revolutionary systems. The FURo-S, however, is not creepy. It's a damn nightmare. You're less worried about what this five-foot bot will do, which isn't much — it rolls around pretty awkwardly, and the arms holding its integrated 22-inch touchscreen are immobile, sculpted features of its non-articulating body. The problem is that giant-eyed animated face, an unfortunate blend of anime and photorealism that cycles through a spectrum of inappropriate expressions. Worst of all, the robot's face doesn't even try to sync with its speech (the mouth never opens, except to mimic surprise), so it can yammer pleasantries while randomly delivering the most dead-eyed, bowel-loosening wink you've ever witnessed. No word on pricing or availability, which we'll count as a mercy.

Today at CES we discovered the Grillbot, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a robot that you plop down to automatically clean your dirty grill. Selling for $129, the robot has three replaceable metal bristles that help the robot both clean and move around your grill.

The device has a rechargeable battery, three electric motors, and an LCD alarm and timer so you can leave it and walk away while it does its thing.

Now here’s the rub. You need to wait until your grill hits a temperature of about 200 degrees before you can start the cleaner. Since normal grill temperatures are around 400 degrees, you’ll have to wait a bit for the grill to cool down before you can start cleaning. However, Grillbot does have an alarm that will sound if you ever place it on a grill that is too hot.

               

PARO Therapeutic Robot

PARO is an advanced interactive robot developed by AIST, a leading Japanese industrial automation pioneer. It allows the documented benefits of animal therapy to be administered to patients in environments such as hospitals and extended care facilities where live animals present treatment or logistical difficulties.

   PARO has been found to reduce patient stress and their caregivers

   PARO stimulates interaction between patients and caregivers

   PARO has been shown to have a Psychological effect on patients, improving thier relaxation and motivation

   PARO improves the socialiazation of patients with each other and with caregivers

   World's Most Therapeutic Robot certified by Guinness World Records

PARO is the 8th generation of a design that has been in use in Japan and throughout Europe since 2003.

PARO has five kinds of sensors: tactile, light, audition, temperature, and posture sensors, with which it can perceive people and its environment. With the light sensor, PARO can recognize light and dark. He feels being stroked and beaten by tactile sensor, or being held by the posture sensor. PARO can also recognize the direction of voice and words such as its name, greetings, and praise with its audio sensor.

PARO can learn to behave in a way that the user prefers, and to respond to its new name. For example, if you stroke it every time you touch it, PARO will remember your previous action and try to repeat that action to be stroked. If you hit it, PARO remembers its previous action and tries not to do that action.

The More Joyful Innovation Communication robot, or the MJI robot, is an egg-shaped robot that can display photos, weather, news and other information. Scheduled to ship in early 2016 only in Japan, the MJI Robot also has built-in telephone functionality.

The MJI robot can be activated by voice, but it can’t verbally communicate just yet. According to Tech Gadget Central, the manufacturer is looking “to add some other functions to future models, like story- telling and educational features for children, or possibly even smart- house features that would allow users to control lights, music and what not else in the house.”

The MJI robot weighs 6.5 lbs, has Wi-Fi and 4LTE connectivity and cameras for motion-tracking, facial recognition and surveillance.

The MJI is being geared towards the elderly and people who require a simple communication interface with their technology. It will be on display at CES 2016 at the Japan Innovation Showcase, which will be located at Booth 72150 in the Robotics Marketplace inside the Sands Expo.

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