I was invited to meet with the Nakagawa's at RT Corp in Akihabara last Friday to get an exclusive briefing covering the development of the Galaxy XMAS HUGS robot installation currently being featured at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.
The Samsung Galaxy organization wanted to put together a unique exhibition at the Galaxy Cafe for the holiday season. Something that would utilize and feature the leading edge Galaxy technology coupled with a strong appeal that would connect with potential customers emotionally as well as logically.
The Nakagawa's were excited by the challenge and immediately saw the opportunity to combine several Galaxy products running the Android operating system with their RIC Android humanoid robot platform in a way that would create an engaging and memorable experience for everyone that tried it.
One lesson that was drummed into my thick skull early on was never to accept the first answer to any important question. I was taught that you absolutely must ask "Why?" at least three or four times before you even begin to start uncovering the truth. Never take anything at face value. Always look under the surface, and beyond the superficial, if finding the true answer is important to you. I was reminded of that lesson this morning as I read through the official PR surrounding Google's surprising move to swallow Motorola Mobility Holdings.
Here is what Larry Page, the Google CEO, had to say:
"In 2007, Motorola was a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance that worked to make Android the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. I have loved my Motorola phones from the StarTAC era up to the current DROIDs."
True enough. No way to argue with that.
In 2008, Motorola bet big on Android as the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices. It was a smart bet and we’re thrilled at the success they’ve achieved so far."
True again, though there were a lot of other companies that stepped up to the table and placed big bets on Android as well.
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.
While some robot developers are striving to create humanoid soccer players that will outperform their carbon based inventors, or are trying to bring their childhood robot heros, like Gundam, to life, Carl Clement in the UK is taking a much more pragmatic and perhaps humanistic/social approach. He's enrolled his NAO robot in a training regimen to become his personal secretary and assistant.
I wanted to work on a new artbot design using Sketchup on my MacBookPro, but immediately ran into a hangup. Sketchup is the third program I've run into that has problems running under the Mac Lion OSX. Thankfully, the Google Sketchup website (link below) lists all the known issue and suggested work-arounds. Hopefully they will be resolved soon. Otherwise I'll have to power up my old WindDoze system, which I really don't want to do just for this one small project.
I've used Google Sketchup in the past to design robot parts and sometimes to create 3D graphics to illustrate articles and manuals. It's extremly handy, easy to use, and the price is right. From time to time I run across other robot builders using it, but I'm not aware of any forum, blog, or website specifically devoted to robot design using Sketchup.
A good example would be the 'Design. Click. Build' Blog that features all types of tips, tricks, and techniques for applying Sketchup for woodworking. If anyone knows, or publishes, a similar website for robotics, please let me know.