New Co-Working Space in Chiba

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The free drink bar is including in your access fee and includes water, tea, coffee, and other beverages.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Via: SHI TSU RAI Co-working Space 
More information at Robots Dreams

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Robotic Beer Brewing System – Bierre

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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

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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.

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What’s Inside?

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.

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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.

Related links:

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SmartWatch Wannabe’s Continue to Focus in the Wrong Direction


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
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XYZ Printing Shows 3D Printed DIY Robots at CES – Kits to Hit the Market Later This Year

DIY robot

XYZ Printing has quickly developed a strong reputation for their low cost, high performance, 3D printer line, but most people aren’t aware that they also have a robotics division - XYZ Robot that develops and markets both service and personal robot products.

In the past, their robot division has primarily focused on their service robot line, offering a mobile remote telepresence type robot platform that can be used for auto-mapping, research, surveillance, and other similar applications. However, at CES 2015 the company unveiled an innovative strategy to combine the strong points of both divisions by offering a series of humanoid robots that feature body shells that can be printed using XYZ Printing devices.

While the company hasn’t released exact availability and pricing information yet, the robots are expected to come in two different configurations - Advanced and Intermediate. According to information circulated at CES, the lower end Intermediate robot configuration will sell for just under US$300. We’re speculating that the Advanced configuration will be closer to US$800-$1,000 since it utilizes 18 DYNAMIXEL AX-12A servo motors that typically retail for around US$45 each.

The kits will include the necessary servos, controller, AC adapter, internal frame, software and other parts. The users are expected to print their own body shells. Here’s what we know about the specifications for the two kits so far:

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Hopefully the company will make some, if not all, of the 3D printed shell design data available for downloading and modification to help users kickstart their robots.

 DIY robot shells

Via: DIY robot

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Is 3D Printing Practical and Accessible? They Think So. (Video)

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People are always asking me if I think that 3D printing will become pervasive, if the average person would have any need or interest in printing out items. Being a strong believer in the proverb that “Seeing is believing”, I think this video that shows a Boise, Idaho father and daughter printing a custom wall outlet cover at their local public library says it all:

Of course, there will be those readers that question whether or not government funds should be provided to libraries for services like this - but that’s a totally different debate.

Via: Get a look at 3D printing at the Boise Public Library - YouTube

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New Physics iBook Set to Inspire Students and Their Parents

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I just finished reading (exploring) Eduardo Galvani’s latest iBook, The Yellow Cab of the Universe: Mr. Albert’s Brain, and I have to say that it’s an absolutely compelling purchase/read for anyone with even the slightest interest in Physics. Here’s what I wrote as a 5-Star review on the iBook Store:

Brings physics to life and makes it engaging

Physics springs from real life - it’s the sum total of our struggle as human beings to make sense of the physical world around us and to solve real world problems. If you what to build a bridge, design a car, aim a cannon, fly a plane, or do almost anything physical, you need to understand the fundamentals of physics.

Unfortunately all too many textbooks and classes teach physics in a dry, pedantic way that sometimes suffocates students interest in one of the worlds most important topics of study.

Eduardo Galvani not only puts the ‘life’ back into physics, he makes it totally engaging and inspirint. This iBook not only teaches physics, it encourages the reader to interact and experiment  with the principles cover in each section.

Through the use of color, dynamic images, sound, motion, physical interaction, interactive quizzes, and videos, Galvani brings the full power of the iBook format to bear and creates a learning experience that is difficult to put down.

I highly recommend this iBook to anyone with an interest in physics, no matter what your age, gender, nationality, or experience level.

If you’re a physics fan but are still a bit skeptical, then download the sample chapter from the iBook Store. And, if you don’t already have an iPad or Mac computer handy - beg, borrow, or steal one so that you can experience this iBook. It’s that good.

Via: iTunes - Books - The Yellow Cab of the Universe by Eduardo Galvani & James Griffiths

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Robot PET Dog Drives Real Dogs Crazy – (Video)

Robot PET Dog Drives Real Dogs Crazy  YouTube

The new ROBOTIS PLAY600 PETs robot kit includes a cute bird that only took a few minutes to assemble, but provided lots of fun and excitement for our two dogs.

The kit allows very young learners to get involved in building simple robots even before they are old enough to start learning how to program. ROBOTIS expects to release the kit for sale in February.

Total assembly time for this robot was about 10 minutes. The kit includes all the parts and plans for two other, slightly more complex, animal type robots that move.

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Via: Robot PET Dog Drives Real Dogs Crazy - YouTube

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