Michael Overstreet has been a good and respected friend since the first time we hooked up several years ago at RoboGames in California. So, I hope he doesn't mind if I make some frank, and well deserved, comments.
When we first met Michael seemed like a typical robot geek, very talented with lots of expertise, but a bit shy and withdrawn. You really had to push him to get him to tell you what he thought. I'm sure he had lots of valuable and useful things to share, but they didn't flow easily.
Over the years, with experience, learning, and success, Michael has really blossomed and come out of his shell. He's become a key member of the Cowtown Computer Congress - Kansas City's leading hackerspace, a frequent exhibitor and participant in Maker Faire events all over the US, and a strong proponent of the DARwin-OP humanoid robot platform.
This was definitely a surprise, especially given the fact that Google was willing to pay a 63% premium over last Friday's market price for Motorola Mobility Holdings. Of course, no one has any doubts that Google is totally committed to Android and fully intends to make it the defacto standard, ubiquitously connected, operating system for cell phones, mobile computing, robotics, and the cloud.
At the same time, I have to wonder what the primary motivation for the extremely high evaluation was. It can't be based on Motorola Mobility's existing product lines since customers for mobile products tend to be fickle and change phones and makers almost as if they were seasonal fashion items instead of technology gadgets.
Perhaps Google is buying the talent, though that's a risky move. Highly talented developers and managers often jump ship when a major change in management or ownership happens. The most likely factor, in my opinion, is the patent base and position controlled by Motorola Mobility.
"Google said that access to Motorola, which makes phones that run on Google's Android mobile operating system, will "enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing.""
No matter what their reasoning, the move has to be great news for the robotics community. You can be sure we'll see lots Android enhancements and features coming down the road that will spur robot connectivity to all types of devices and to the cloud.
My personal fascination with electronics and technology started at a very early age when Santa brought a simple electronics experimenter kit one Christmas Eve. All the components were laid out on a board and each one had small wire springs for terminal contacts. The instruction book included diagrams showing how to hook up the wires to complete each circuit.
I can't remember all of the experiments exactly, but I do know there was a switch triggered burglar alarm, some light circuits, and a crystal radio, among others. The 'radio' used a rough crystal with a cat's whisker probe with no application. Luckily we were living in Southern California at the time with at least one 50,000 watt broadcast radio station that I could pick up.
I was very intrigued, and pleased, to discover Andrew Alter, a leading humanoid robot designer, Mech Warfare organizer, and RoboGames champion, explaining the Electronic Brick Starter Kit, since it shows that the same basic approach is still very much in use today.
’Old Electronics Kit Concept Made New (Video)’ continues
I didn't realize that Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest aerospace, defense, security, and technology companies, has projects underway utilizing the Aldebaran NAO humanoid robot, but they must have because their latest corporate promotional video, titled "Visions of Tomorrow" features the easily recognizable, and extremely cute, robot from France.
According to the video caption:
"Visions of Tomorrow" reflects the Corporation's dedicated workforce, growing technology portfolio, and innovative spirit. The video is a tribute to those innovators and the sense of greater purpose they share.
If I had no budgetary and time constraints it would be fantastic to jaunt around the world experiencing all the fantastic technology, robot and science exhibitions I could find. Number one on my personal wish list, at least at the moment, would be the Ars Electronica Festival, scheduled for August 31st through September 6th, in Linz, Austria.
The long running festival goes back to September, 1979 when it was originally staged as a "pilot project was designed to take the Digital Revolution’s emergence as an occasion to face important questions about the future and to focus these inquiries on the nexus of ART, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY."