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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.