Picked up the new TASCAM DR-22WL digital recorder to capture better audio for interviews and videos. From the specifications, and most user reviews, it should be a good fit for my needs. I’ll be able to give it a few field tests before I make the international trek to MakerCon and Bay Area Maker Faire this May.
The built-in WiFi capability and free iOS and Android apps were the major selling point for me. Being able to remotely control the recorder from my smartphone will be a huge improvement. That will allow me to position the recorder in the best spot to capture audio while giving me the freedom to move around with my camera as I shoot the action.
My initial tests, though short, indicate that the smartphone control not only works, it actually is simpler and more straightforward to use than the buttons on the recorder itself.
All though the DR-22WL only supports two channels compared to it’s bigger, and more expensive brother, the DR-44WL, it weighs less, fits in my hand and backpack nicely, and has all the functions I am likely to need built right in.
The build quality is acceptable, though not at the top of the range. For example, you have to look closely at the mini-USB connector to confirm the orientation - something that should be more obvious if the access hole in the case matched the connector.
Powered by two AA cell batteries that are easily available almost anywhere on the planet, I shouldn’t have to face unexpected charging problems onsite, which is a significant plus.
Included in the DR-22WL package are the recorder, batteries, a mini-USB cable, and the instruction manual in both English and Japanese. The more expensive DR-44WL also includes a cloth case for the recorder, which would be nice. Looks like a quick trip to the local 100¥ (dollar store) will fix that shortcoming.
With only a few hours use under my belt, I’m pleased by what I’ve experienced with the DR-22WL so far. The display could be a little brighter, especially for outdoor use, and the menu fonts could be much larger - still the recorder is more than adequate in both respects.
The WiFi remote control apps, at least the iOS version, work as advertised and were easy to setup and use. There is also a WiFi file transfer app available for free download from the TASCAM website. That will get tested tomorrow. Of course, coupling your smartphone or computer to the recorder means that you don’t have WiFi access to the internet simultaneously unless you setup a separate router. This isn’t a significant problem for my intended uses, but could impact those that want to broadcast the audio real-time from events.
In addition to recording interviews and audio for event videos, I also plan to use the DR-22WL for article dictation processing the output through Dragon Dictate. It would be nice if the recorder could also be used as an active microphone for direct use with the same application, but I’m not sure if that is possible, and it isn’t a deal killer since I have a Blue Snowball microphone I typically use in the studio.
Related links: TASCAM DR-22WL Digital Recorder
Via: Chimpansees halen drone naar beneden en filmen elkaar! - YouTube #robotsdreams
More information at Robots Dreams
Game of Drones - the fantastic aerial combat competition where multicopters take to the air and try to knock each other out of the sky - is currently accepting pilot and team applications for the May 15th competition that will take place at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo.
Even if your courage isn’t up for it, you’ll want to put it on your ‘must-see’ list when you attend Maker Faire next month.
Via: Game of Drones Combat Arena @ Maker Faire San Mateo - Game of Drones (San Francisco, CA) - Meetup #robotsdreams
More information at Robots Dreams
More and more universities are offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) where anyone, anywhere in the world, can benefit from exactly the same courseware and resources as local students. Of course, they have to have relatively high speed internet access. Typically these courses are free, though some require a minimal charge.
For example, Queensland University of Technology in Australia will be offering two information rich courses in robotics early in 2015. Introduction to Robotics covers the world of robots along with the necessary underlying mathematics and algorithms, while Robotic Vision explores computer vision in robot designs and applications. Instructor for both courses will be Professor Peter Corke.
Fascinated by robots as a young child, Yuki Nakagawa, founder and CEO of RT Corp, has been involved in Japanese humanoid robotics and robots in the home for almost her entire career. Her life’s mission is to improve and enhance people’s quality of life through the use of robot technologies.
This July she’ll be sharing her unique observations, insights, know-how, and vision for the future at Innorobo 2015 in Lyon, France. It’s a rare opportunity to meet and interact with a Japanese expert in the field to gain insight into why Japan has earned a high reputation for human/robot interaction and co-working, and to talk about what the future may hold.
Battlebots, the modern day robotic version of ancient Roman gladiator combats in the coliseum, will hit the airwaves via ABC on June 21st broadcasting at least six episodes. The program producers are promising a much richer and deeper viewing experience with lots of ‘behind the scenes’ segments to hopefully create more of a bond between the robot creators and their viewing fans.
Unfortunately those of us living outside the U.S. will have to wait until the series makes it to iTunes or does an individual deal, country by country, for rebroadcast.
It’s not unusual to find good co-working spaces around Tokyo, or most major urban areas for that matter. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a very large and comfortable co-working space just a short distance from my home in the suburbs of Tokyo.
Located less than 2 minutes on foot from Inage Kaigan JR Station in Chiba, the SHI TSU RAI Co-working Space is an excellent shared office space. Open 7 days a week from 10 am until 7 pm, in addition to a clean, well lit work area, the facility offers free high speed WiFi, power, coffee/beverages, plus attractive discounts. You can use the facility by the hour, day, or month.
Basically, for ¥1,000, about what you would spend for a coffee and cookie at Starbucks, you can use the facility all day . It’s so reasonable and pleasant, that I’m signing up for a monthly membership.
The staff is extremely pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful. Keeping in mind that this is the suburbs, their English speaking level was certainly sufficient to handle all of my needs and requests.
This would be perfect for meetings, training sessions, or other similar events. Of course, that type of use would have to be booked in advance.
The free drink bar is including in your access fee and includes water, tea, coffee, and other beverages.
When I used to work for big corporations, everyone fought over the offices with windows to the outside world. Now I can enjoy that environment every day.
The building entrance signage leaves a lot to be desired and tends to be a bit dark, but don’t let that put you off.
The SHI TSU RAI Co-working Space is on the 3rd floor along with several restaurants. Since it’s located close to a major train station, there is lots of shopping, convenience stores, restaurants, and even a Mister Donut shop just a few quick steps away.
Robots Can’t Bring You A Beer, But They Can Brew It!
Beer brewing can be fun, and is something that is easily accomplished at home. However, like many complex processes, brewing beer that tastes good and has consistent quality requires an attention to detail that is often challenging for hobby beer brewers.
Thankfully, affordable technology exists to assist home brewers in their quest for tasty beer on a repeatable, predictable basis. Utilizing off the shelf components along with
smartphones that almost everyone carries around in their pockets these days, Leo Innovations LLC successfully designed and launched Bieree: Smartphone Beer Brewing System.
Constructive Feedback Yields Results-
Driven by their passion for beer brewing, the founders at Leo Innovations spent years experimenting and refining their approach. Their initial attempts, though successful at producing quality beer, met with some criticism. The main complaint was that the system was too automated, too robotic. It produced the beer with a minimum of interaction from operators - as if it was on autopilot, so users felt isolated from the process.
Responding to this valuable feedback, the developers came up with the latest Bieree version expanding its user programability and data display/collection. Not only can users set parameters like temperatures and times, they can also expand the system to include other types of sensors or controls.
The Bieree beer brewing system has five basic elements. The heart of the system is a Bluetooth enabled micro controller with two power FETs. Fluid is pumped through the system using dual food grade coffee machine pumps. A temperature probe monitors operating temperatures, which are extremely critical for brewing. Devices are switched on or off using a power relay.
Users control the system using custom software applications available on both Android and iPhone/iOS platforms. Using the app of their choice, users setup the controller to measure temperatures, turn pumps on to circulate water through the different brewing vessels, and control refrigerated cooling. Communication between the smartphone and the Bierre process controller is via Bluetooth.
Successful Kickstarter Project-
Setting modest, yet achievable, goals, the company introduced Bieree to the world via a Kickstarter project in the summer of 2014. The project attracted 57 backers, primarily through word of mouth among beer brewing hobbyists, and exceeded it’s project funding goal of $6,000.
The People That Made It Happen-
Leo Innovations was founded by Leonardo Estevez who was born in Uruguay, became a naturalized US citizen, and holds both a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience. He is committed to helping students to develop STEM based products that improve users quality of life.
Using open source hardware and software developed by Leo, Sam Dalong, the Leo Innovations project lead and designer, produced the Bierre kit. Sam holds a Masters degree in mathematics, and like Leo, has a strong interest in STEM development and motivating users.
Swatch, according to the latest reports/rumors from Bloomberg Business plans to release their answer to the long awaited Apple Watch before this summer, perhaps even beating Apple’s design to market.
Unfortunately, as far as we can tell from the limited information already available, Swatch, like most of the other smart watch wannabes trying to capitalize on all the energy, buzz, and hype around the sector, is focusing on the “watch” side of the equation without a significant differentiating play on the ‘smart’ side.
Before Apple did a complete reboot of cellphones and revolutionized the market, a phone was just a phone, though many of them had a few additional features, like a calendar or camera duct taped on. Apple, or more specifically Steve Jobs, shifted the focus to the total customer experience at a deep kinesthetic gut level and built a complete eco and economic system around the device. While we still refer to our smartphones as a ‘phone’, the actual use of those devices has totally minimized their phone functionality.
Smart watches will follow the same evolutionary path, without a doubt. My Nike+ FuelBand, for example, has become a totally integrated part of my day to day existence. Of course I still use it to check the time occasionally, but the way that it allows me to track, monitor, and expand my physical health and exercise has become invaluable.
While companies, and tech reporters, continue to promote the latest smart watch offering as a serious competitor to the Apple Watch, the ones we’ve seen so far amount to just digital watches with some additional features. There’s nothing really compelling about them that would make you want to run out and get one right away.
I’m guessing, and hoping, that in a few months Apple will change all of that and deliver a smart watch that will totally change the way that we think about and utilize watch form factor devices in our daily lives.
Via: Swatch Plans Smartwatch to Compete With Apple Watch’s Debut - Bloomberg Business #robotsdreams
More information at Robots Dreams
Here’s a five minute overview of what it was like to participate in Maker Faire Tokyo 2014, plus some comments and observations from Make: founder Dale Dougherty -