“Invisible Joystick” – Posture Recognition for Robots (Video)

nao robot

Anyone that has successfully trained their dog quickly realizes that canines can easily recognize and respond to body language, especially simple hand gestures. Then why do we make controlling a robot so much more complex and difficult for users to understand?

As a part of a class project, Danpaul000, at the Colorado School of Mines, developed an IMU based glove and associated hardware to control the NAO robot in much the same way that dog owners would do.


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Smooth Analog Mixing Enabled In Latest Robot Software (Video)

120127 Kondo Robot 1

Kondo just released the latest version of their robot motion creation software, HeartToHeart 4 (HTH4). While the software was originally designed to support the KHR-1, the world's first humanoid robot kit, its functionality and power has increased tremendously over the years.

Version 4 of the software includes many features that make it easy to take advantage of all the power and flexibility designed into a wide range of robot configurations including all of the Kondo multi-legged robots.

A good example is the CraftHouse demonstration video below featuring the Kondo KMR-M6 hexapod robot showing how HTH4 enables smooth analog mixing driving the robots motions from the remote control joystick.


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Affordable Stretch Sensor from AdaFruit Industries

Adafruit stretch sensor

I'm so incredibly jealous. Lady Ada over at AdaFruit Industries has all these great toys to play and experiment with, and she's figured out how to do it while enriching all of our hacker lives and making a little money to find more great stuff.

The 'toy' that triggered this post for me is some conductive rubber stretch cord that acts as a sensor. It's like being able to pull on the end of a resistor and have it's characteristics change linearly as it gets longer and shorter. Way cool! And it is incredibly cheap. She's priced it at less than ten dollars for a full meter and even includes a pair of alligator clips and a 10k resistor. Science teachers, for example, could dice it up and have enough for each student to have a piece for experiments.

The only drawback that I can see is that the sensor takes a little while to recover after being stretched, though I guess that could be compensated for in some applications by using two sensors in opposition.

As usual, the AdaFruit website has a great related tutorial page so you can learn while having fun.

(Via Conductive Rubber Cord Stretch Sensor + extras! ID: 519 - $9.95 : Adafruit Industries, Unique & fun DIY electronics and kits.)

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MIT OpenCourseWare Offers Sensor Technology Course

robot sensor course

If you want to get a broad overview and understanding of sensor technologies you might as well learn from the best. Luckily, the MIT OpenCourseWare program is dedicated to making the same educational material, including course outlines, readings, lectures, assignments, and often videos, that are used to teach MIT students both at undergraduate and graduate levels.

For example, one of the program's current offerings is "MAS.836 Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments:

"This course is a broad introduction to a host of sensor technologies, illustrated by applications drawn from human-computer interfaces and ubiquitous computing. After extensively reviewing electronics for sensor signal conditioning, the lectures cover the principles and operation of a variety of sensor architectures and modalities, including pressure, strain, displacement, proximity, thermal, electric and magnetic field, optical, acoustic, RF, inertial, and bioelectric. Simple sensor processing algorithms and wired and wireless network standards are also discussed. "

The MIT OpenCourseWare program material is covered by their Creative Commons License, and the best part is that it's absolutely free. All you have to do is bring your own intelligence, curiosity, and dedication. You can't beat that.

(Via MIT OpenCourseWare | Media Arts and Sciences | MAS.836 Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments, Spring 2010 | Home.)

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Fluffy FuwaFuwa Sensor Technology Opens Exciting New Possibilities (Video)

music soft sensor

Technology development today faces some serious limitations that constrains its application and successful deployment, especially in non-traditional sectors. The two biggest limitations, at least from my perspective, are battery capacity/life and sensors. While there has certainly been a lot of progress in both areas over the past two decades, the core technology and design approach hasn't really changed very much.

In order to achieve radical improvements in the way we put technology to practical use some significant breakthroughs in both areas will be critical. Along those lines, one of the most interesting and surprising "thinking out of the box" sensor developments I've run across recently is the FuwaFuwa sensor module developed as a part of the Igarashi Design Interface Project under the auspices of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) ERATO.

"FuwaFuwa" in the Japanese language is a kind of onomatopoeic word that roughly translates as light/airy/fluffy, and that's exactly what the FuwaFuwa sensor module does.


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Excellent Compact PC Robot Controller Teardown

RoboSavvy posted a very detailed and well documented teardown of the eBox3350 compact PC.

The teardown includes the step-by-step process, hidden product features, close-up photos, and observations about how to put the PC to good use in a robot controller application. They even put together a short video of the teardown.

As usual with a popular forum like RoboSavvy, the subsequent discussions among the forum members, with proactive support from PedroR - the resident RoboSavvy expert - yielded a wealth of additional specifications, block diagrams, and knowledgeable input.

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Connecting the Google Android Cloud to Real-World Robotics Using Open Accessory (Video)

110510 RT RIC Android Google IO 002



RT Corporation Announces Android Accessory Demo Kit/Accessory Demo Shield
- New board set enables Android developers to create reliable real world solutions incorporating sensors, displays, motors, and robot technologies using Google Android Open Accessory -

San Francisco, CA May 10, 2011:

RT Corporation, a well known Japanese developer of robotic technologies and solutions, today announced its new RT Accessory Demo Kit (RT-ADK)/Accessory Demo Shield (RT-ADS) board set. The RT-ADK/RT-ADS configuration makes it possible for Android and Arduino application developers to add real-world interaction and functionality to their creations, reliably extending the reach of the “cloud” to include sensing and physical action.


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RoboDance Support Opportunity – Please Help

Robert Oschler has done a fantastic job of single-handedly developing the RoboDance application that allows users of almost every WowWee robot, and some other manufacturers robots like the popular Takara/TOMY iSOBOT, control their bots remotely using their computer, voice, WiiMote, and even mind control using the Emotiv EPOC EEG headset.


For four consecutive years Robert labored diligently to produce each annual feature packed new RoboDance release, funding everything out of his own pocket and contributing all the work to the open source community so that everyone would benefit. It's been a labor of love.

But, as wonderful and powerful as love is, we all still need food, warmth, and a roof over our heads. Even robots have to pay for electricity to recharge their batteries and oil to lubricate their joints. So, to help "keep the lights on" and continue RoboDance development, Robert has put out a call for support.

There are several ways supporters can help. Robert has a number of Internet domains up for sale, including one that should be extremely attractive to anyone in the Google Android community. It's a great chance to lock down a strong domain while supporting a very worthy cause. Or if you prefer just click on the donate link on the RoboDance Fundraiser page and send Robert as much as you feel comfortable giving. I'm sure he will welcome, and acknowledge, all contributions no matter how big or small.


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Robo-IRT Makes Controlling the i-SOBOT a Breeze

Robo-irt isobot

As much as we’re devoted to the larger humanoid robots, we have to admit that they’re a bit expensive. At the same time, we love the lower cost robots like the TOMY i-SOBOT and the WowWee Robosapien types. But their remote controls are frequently complex and difficult to use, and editing a robot program usually turns out to be an exercise in frustration.

The best way to get around the remote control/programability challenge has been the free RoboDance software application. It’s loaded with great functionality and is extremely easy to use, even for a pure novice. It’s only drawback has been that you have to purchase a special IR transmitter to send the software commands to your robot. Thankfully a new, low cost transmitter, appropriately named “Robo-IRT” has hit the market.


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The Robot Sleeps Tonight (Video)

A couple years ago, when the original Robosapien robot, created by Mark Tilden, went on sale, there were no third party products. Actually, at that point, no one outside of the WowWee Robotics labs knew enough about the robot to even begin hacking it, or creating new software and accessories for it.

We bought one, and are very glad we did. Figuring out how to control it from our PC was a significant challenge that taught us a lot, though we wouldn't want to try doing it from scratch again. Fortunately now there are several million of the popular Robosapien robots out there, along with other robots in the series, like the RoboRaptor, and RoboPet. And, there are a number of third party solutions for Robosapien fans and addicts to chose from.


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