The researchers at Keio University here do some surprising work. They're breaking new ground with user interfaces and communication, both between man and machines, and between people. Their projects usually involve the application of readily available technology in new and different ways.
A good example is the PYGMY robot ring project presented by Masayasu Ogata (Anzai Imai Lab) at the Interaction 2012 Conference held last week in Tokyo.
During IREX 2011, I had the opportunity to check out the Omni-Crawler robot developed at Osaka University. Conceptually, it's pretty amazing. It can 'turn on a dime', or more correctly, it doesn't need to turn at all. The unique Omni-Ball drive enables it to move in any direction in its plane of operation, and can make those moves almost instantaneously.
The Omni-Crawler approach will definitely be a significant benefit in some applications that can be improved by it's capabilities, and some applications that were previously impossible. At the same time, the overall complexity of the design and implementation, at least in the research lab prototype stage, raises some questions about how effectively it could be commercialized. The robot has tremendous potential, if it can be production engineered to become a reliable, cost effective subsystem.
’IREX 2011: Omni-Crawler Robot (Video)’ continues
Basic assumptions, whether explicitly defined or not, often determine the eventual success, or failure, of all research and design projects. It's all too easy for an engineer to make assumptions that don't bear out in the real world. It's also very common for corporate management to dedicate huge budgets to projects built on faulty logic.
After watching, and thinking about, some of the patient assistance robotic technology showcased yesterday by Toyota, I really have to wonder what their original design assumptions were. A good example is the Toyota Patient Transfer Assist Robot.
One of the great things about publishing a popular technology blog is that people frequently contact me about fantastic events and conferences that I would really love to attend. Unfortunately, since I happen to live and work in Japan and have finite budget, getting to many of the events is out of the question.
The most recent 'Darn I Really Want to Go" moment was when I received notification of the Art && Code 3D conference scheduled for late October at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh - a hotbed of robot development, research, and creativity:
ART && CODE: DIY 3D Sensing and Visualization (#artandcode) is a festival and conference concerned with the artistic, technical, tactical and cultural potentials of low-cost 3D scanning devices — especially, but not exclusively, including the revolutionary Microsoft Kinect sensor. This highly interdisciplinary event will bring together, for the first time, tinkerers and hackers, computational artists and designers, professional game developers, and leading researchers in the fields of computer vision, robotics and human-computer interaction. Half maker’s festival, half academic symposium, ART && CODE will take place October 21-23 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and will feature:
- Hands-on workshops in programming interactive software with low-cost depth cameras, such as the Kinect;
- Live demonstrations and speed presentations of interactive experiences made with the Kinect;
- Lecture presentations by leading international artists, designers and researchers;
- Social events that mix independents, corporates, and academic researchers;
- An evening of immersive audiovisual performances; and
- An unconference with topics selected by you!
(Via Art && Code 3D » Presenters.)