Robots and donuts... and art! Who could possibly come up with a better combination. Check out the art of Eric Joyner for an inspiring perspective on three of the most important things in life.
Ever wonder what it would be like to be inside the NASA JPL labs as they put together a space robot? As a kid who grew up spending more time in school doodling spaceships, aliens, and astronauts when I should've been studying in class, the chance to look over the shoulder of the NASA engineers and technicians as they assemble one of the rover robots destined to drive across the surface of the red planet would be absolutely mind blowing. Well, now I, and everyone else with Internet access, can share in the experience.
The next online robotics summit is scheduled for Wednesday, October 27, 2010. The latest summit is focusing on "New Applications for Industrial Robotics" and promises to be interesting. Several of the speakers and sessions will be particularly relevant, addressing important topics like close robot/human interaction and contact, as well as the competitive advantages that can be realized through effective implementation of robotics in many different business sectors. Also, the organizers have lined up a wide range of companies and technologies presenting their latest developments.
The initial Beta build was limited to only 100 sets, and almost half of them are already spoken for as we write this report.
According to the website:
"The cubelets standard kit comes with 20 magnetic blocks that can be snapped together to make an endless variety of robots with no programming and no wires. You can build robots that drive around on a tabletop, respond to light, sound, and temperature, and have surprisingly lifelike behavior. But instead of programming that behavior, you snap the cubelets together and watch the behavior emerge like with a flock of birds or a swarm of bees."
Although we're fascinated by robotic technology in the rapid advances being made, we have started to take for granted some of the amazing tools and technology that have already become integrated into our daily lives. Things that would have been astounding to people just a couple of decades ago, are now commonplace to the point that we use them almost without noticing how wonderful they are.
A good example is the Internet and some of the social networking applications like Facebook. Even though I live just outside of Tokyo, and Andrew at Trossen Robotics is on the other side of the world near Chicago, we can, and do, chat regularly online using Facebook almost as if we were next-door neighbors.
Here's some snippets from our latest chat that included an update on several exciting projects and new products that are in the works at Trossen:
In researching the landscape of currently available telepresence products, we ran across this interesting two-page PDF file covering the high-end corporate solutions provided by Tandberg, a part of Cisco. There is also a three-page PDF white paper going through some of the major benefits of implementing remote presence that includes some fascinating, real life examples including how customers were able to continue to sustain their business even during times of crisis.
For example, the 2003 SARS epidemic in Asia and China, and the more recent H1N1 Swine Flew virus outbreak, could have had disastrous results on the business operations of companies dependent on the affected areas, if their employees had to attend business meetings there. The use of telepresence systems like this minimizes the risk and allows critical business processes to continue with a minimum of disruption. It's no wonder that major multinational corporations are embracing the technology. And with the advent of lower-cost, higher mobility remote telepresence robots, adoption is very likely to ramp up quickly.
Of course, Tandberg is selling a full corporate solution, and the so-called "white paper" is clearly marketing material, there are many points of commonality with the mobile, more individual, remote telepresence robot based approaches that have recently hit the market. However, many of the business, and possibly personal, needs are the same. They overlap quite a bit. It would be interesting to put together a scatter chart based on the two approaches, showing the key characteristics of both approaches and how they address basic market requirements.
In any case, companies like Cisco will end up being the eventual winners. Internet traffic will definitely increase as the demand for more and more bandwidth ramps up to support telepresence implementations, and that will require more infrastructure. Also, companies like Tandberg will be making strategic moves to consolidate their positions in this sector and will be definitely looking to acquire promising remote telepresence startups. It's going to be interesting, both from the perspective of a dyed in the wool robot fan, and also as a student of Wall Street trends and investment opportunities.