Monday, April 30, 2007

Hands-on With the New Optimus Prime Transformer


Unboxing a new cellphone is nice, but it rarely matches the excitement we had as a kid unboxing a brand new Transformers toy. So imagine how giddy we got when we got the new Optimus Prime Transformers toy today!

As you can see from the pictures, it's big, it's red, and it's pretty freakin' hard to transform. We don't recall our old toys
taking 14ish steps to go from robot to car, but that could be because
our hands were that much smaller back then. Oh, and this doesn't make
the pee-paa-pee-pew-pew-chunk sound the actual Transformers make. (Link to the sound). But it does make truck noises and shoots a missile. We don't recall any missile shooting in the original either.

Article Link

The NPD Group: Watch out Teens! Adults Rule Mobile Gaming (for Now, Anyway)

According to The NPD Group, a leading consumer and retail information
company, in an average month more than 29 million consumers play video
games on their mobile phones and more than 7 million download games to
mobile devices. These days, however, youll
find more adults than teens interacting with mobile games. In fact,
consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 not only download more games
than any other age group, but also play them more and are more likely to
plan to purchase additional games in the future.

In 2006 29 percent of games were downloaded by consumers aged 25 to 34,
followed by those aged 18 to 24 (27 percent), and teens between the ages
of 13 and 17 (15 percent). NPD noted a similar trend in relation to game
playing activity. Half of mobile gamers between the ages of 25 and 34
and the same percentage of those between the ages of 18 and 24 report
playing a game on their mobile device at least once a day. By
comparison, just 41 percent of teens exhibited similar behavior.

While these numbers offer an interesting snapshot of current mobile
gaming activity, the main reason teens have not surpassed their adult
counterparts comes down to the numbers of mobile downloads and game
play: compared to adults, there simply are not as many teen cell phone
subscribers as there are adult subscribers. When NPD compared the share
of game downloads to the share of subscribers in each age group, the
data reflect that teens, as a group, are in fact the most likely to
download games.

While teens definitely have a higher
incidence than adults for mobile gaming, they still play second fiddle
to their older counterparts in overall game play and downloading,
said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. And
while its true that adults currently control
the lions share of mobile game downloads and
play, as more teens enter the mobile subscriber base well
see these numbers start to reach parity.

Article Link

Hasbro, Mattel results leave toy industry smiling

traditional toys in the market -- but that said -- product lines are
much improved from these companies," Piper Jaffray analyst Anthony
Gikas told Reuters. "We're expecting growth this year in the
traditional toy category and we really haven't seen growth over the
last five or six years."

Article Link

Stay Safe, Stay In Touch (Toy Liability + Safty Design)

A toymaker ponders product liability. Plus, how to bolster customer interaction online.

Having product liability insurance, which covers your costs in the
event of a lawsuit, may help you sleep nights. Many trade associations,
including the TIA, offer special insurance packages for members. Rates
vary depending on the size of the company and what you're selling:
Expect to pay more for a child's flotation device than for a rubber
ducky. Big toymakers like Mattel (NYSE:MAT) and Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) pay
$1 million or more annually in product liability insurance, while small
toy companies pay an average of $7,500 a year, estimates Benjamin
Thrush, vice president of business development for insurance broker Hub
International Northeast (NYSE:HBG), which partners with the TIA.

Of course, the best way to mitigate your risk is to make darn sure your
product is as safe as possible and will be used as intended. In
addition to required labeling, consider including a warning to parents
about the danger to younger siblings, suggests Kimberly Thompson,
director of Kids Risk, a research project at Harvard's School of Public

You may also be able to diminish your product's object-of-desire status
through design and packaging. "If a toy is meant for an older kid, it
should look like it's for an older kid," says Joan Lawrence, vice
president of standards and regulatory affairs at the Toy Industry
Association. "You don't want to use primary colors or a character
familiar to toddlers." Unfortunately, even the least SpongeBob-esque
approach imaginable can't guarantee little kids won't find your product
compelling. So extensive product testing and design reviews are
crucial. If, in a controlled environment, three-year-olds still grab
for your toy, make alterations--or make something else.

Article Link

Hasbro Lends Trading Card Leadership and Expertise to Sony Computer Entertainment's THE EYE OF JUDGMENT(TM) for PLAYSTATION(R)3

THE EYE OF JUDGMENT presents a new style of gameplay where the
player brings creatures of trading cards to life for battle in 3D.
Through use of a 3 x 3 board and trading cards, each encrypted with
CyberCode, players conquer the field by selecting a card and placing the
coded card in front of the PLAYSTATION®Eye for
their respective creatures to come to life and battle. Each creature has
various skills which will determine the outcome of the battle. Players
take turns placing cards as they jostle for control of the board; the
winner is the first player to conquer five of the nine fields.

Article Link

Toys 'R' Us listed as one of the 500 'Most Significant' companies in Dubai

The 500 'Most Significant' companies have been researched and selected
based on factors, including customer service, quality, and
value-for-money, and will be listed on the Showcase 500 website. The
500 names will be a handy-reckoner on Dubai's most reliable and
trustworthy companies to the nearly one-million visitors expected to
visit Dubai from the UK and Ireland in 2007.

Article Link

IAC Launches Zwinktopia At Peak of Virtual World Hype

The timing couldn’t be much better for InterActiveCorp to launch Zwinktopia,
a new virtual world for young teens. Other virtual worlds, such as
Gaia, Habbo Hotel, Cyworld, Neopets, Club Penguin, Webkinz and others,
are exploding in terms of unique monthly visitors and total time spent at the sites.

Until today, IAC’s Zwinky was a site to make customized avatars,
choosing from 10,000 different outfits, accesories and other items, and
embed them onto other websites such as MySpace. Users could also become
friends with other users and enage in basic social networking
activities. See Stardoll as well in this space.

Article Link

Move over MySpace, Gaia Online is here

“The world’s fastest growing online world hangout for teens.”

By the middle of last year, it was attracting half a million unique
visitors monthly; fast forward to last month, and that number is two
million. It’s not a traditional MMO like World of Warcraft; it’s not a
social game like There; it doesn’t originate from Europe like Habbo Hotel or from Asia like Cyworld. You haven’t heard of it partly because the San Jose company has kept a low profile.

Gaia’s Many Experience Channels

The world is just a conduit to the larger activity on Gaia, says
Sherman: in addition, there are website arenas where users can upload
and rate each other’s artwork and other content (7-10% total activity),
or play multiplayer Flash mini-games with group chat (10-15% total
activity.) The largest cohort of activity (wholly 30%) takes place in
the Gaia forums, and here’s where the truly staggering numbers come in:
Averaging a million posts a day and a billion posts so far, Gaia’s
message boards (with topics running the gamut from pop culture to
politics) is second only to Yahoo in popularity.

Gold for Activity

A unique innovation is the way the company distributes its virtual
gold currency: instead of selling it for real money (as with There) or
allowing its trade on the open market (as with Second Life), Gaians are
automatically given gold for participation: You get gold for posting on
the Forums, for riding events, for uploading content, for exploring the
world. Subscribers are rewarded for engaging in Gaia, in other words—
and the reward incents them to engage in Gaia even more.

Article Link

Self Balancing Chairs


the seat is weighted at the base and moves with the user.

Article Link

Team Osaka shows off RoboCup entrants

The bots are definitely built to impress. From the looks of it, the VisiON 4G robot will make up the majority of
the team, with the larger Vstone810 bot apparently playing the role of
enforcer. The bots aren't spending all their time on the pitch,
however, with them also available to do your bidding at a cost of
¥1,000,000 or more (over $8,300) for the VisiON 4G and "several
million" Yen for the Vstone810.

Article Link (Engadget)

SickSack robotic snake slithers through RoboCup

Aske Olsson and Lars Pontoppidan's entry relied on a more down-low approach to taking care of business. Their SickSack robotic snake
chose to crawl rather than run, but the uniqueness of the creature's
movement most definitely deserve props. Gearing up a series of rollers
to blast across the raceway isn't all that impressive, but the
SickSack's use of passive wheels combined with mechanics that enabled
lateral undulation made this thing about as beastly as a metal-clad bot
can get. It also featured eight Futaba servos, a microcontroller,
and a good bit of wiring and programming for its locomotion, and it
(rightfully) took home the award for best design / effects at RoboCup 2007.

Article Link (Engadget)

Sixaxis Linux Robot

The new SIXAXIS Linux integration project, which, so far as we can
tell, is an incredibly effective means for maneuvering small, custom
robots in need of a good 3D controller for manipulating, um, a small
flat plane. We have a feeling this won't be the last we've heard of
this little project.

Article Link (Engadget)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pricing Software Could Reshape Retail

A large retail chain had a problem. It sold three similar power drills: one for about $90, a purportedly better one at $120 and a top-tier one at $130. The higher the price, the more the store profited.

But while drill know-it-alls flocked to the $130 model and price-fretters grabbed its $90 cousin, shoppers often ignored the middle one.

So the store sought advice from a new breed of "price-optimization" software from DemandTec Inc. What followed offers us a clue about important shifts that technology is bringing to retail shopping.

After analyzing an array of variables, including sales history and competitors' prices, the software suggested cutting the middle drill to $110.

That might have made the top drill seem more expensive. But drill aficionados still were fine shelling out $130. Sales of that drill didn't change. However, now that the $90 version seemed less of a
bargain, the store sold 4 percent fewer low-end drills - and 11 percent more of the mid-range model. Profits rose.

In the early 1990s, while examining equations that predict the behavior of billions of atoms in gases or other complex systems, Ouimet realized that the buying decisions of consumers could be plotted in much the same way.

In other words, we think we have free will when we walk into a store and decide whether to purchase something. But en masse, we have very predictable responses to the prices we encounter. "It's really amazing to look at that," Ouimet says.

Article Link (AP)

Toy Analysts

Oppenheimer & Co. analyst - Lisa Bolton Weiser

Reyne Rice, a New York-based toy trends expert at the Toy Industry Association.
Chris Byrne, a New York-based toy consultant.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Barbie Girls sashay into view with MP-3


"If Mattel's online community is successful -- with penetration similar
to Webkinz -- we estimate maximum annual sales potential of about $100
million, or about 3 cents a share," Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Lisa
Bolton Weiser wrote in a research note.

"I think we've got a hit on our hands," said Reyne Rice, a New
York-based toy trends expert at the Toy Industry Association. "You've
got music, you've got fashion and you've got online -- all these
components tied into today's girls."

Article Link

How difficult is it to build a robot kit?


Reading the step-by-step tutorial on how to build a Manoi AT01, at the
always fun and surrealist (thanks to Google translation) Robot Watch,
building a Mr. Roboto kit doesn't look too difficult. Sure there are
plenty of cables and connections to make, but it seems like a
straightforward and enjoyable job. Take a look at the condensed gallery
to see the building milestones or jump to the translated version of the
article to see the detailed step-by-step instructions.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Realistic Animatronic Character

Jules is an impressive animatronic puppet created by American robotics designer David Hanson, first presented at the Wired NextFest last year. He's the next version in a long line of 13 robots by Hanson so far. This one has camera eyes that can track human faces, can recognize speech, and is loaded with "conversational persona" software that gives him an uncanny realism.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Smart Cycle from Fisher-Price corrupts our youth, must be stopped

Alright Mattel, we see
what you're trying to do here, and we don't like it one bit. Sure, cram
a few "edutainment" titles down kids throats now and then, maybe even
sneak some learning into an innocuous-seeming video game, but if you're
going to make children go through all the trouble of freakin' exercise to obtain your sinister educational wares, we say you've gone too far. The new $100 Fisher-Price Smart Cycle, which we briefly mentioned
other the day, plugs directly into a television and allows its
unwitting pupils to hop aboard the bike, fire away at the pedals, and
attempt to steer into items on screen such as letters or numbers in an
arcade-style racing game. Mattel even trotted out Richard Simmons to
show off the wares and encourage the children who were demonstrating
the device: "There's an M!" Simmons said. "Get it! Get it!" The word on
the street is that the Cycle did quite well for Mattel at the Toy Fair,
and might even be an Elmo-esque success for them this holiday season,
but at least our friend on the right in the picture above seems to be
on to their game. It's alright, little man, we're on your side. Peep a
press shot of the bike after the break.

Article Link

Barbie Girls MMO and Barbie Girl MP3 player

Alright, so it's not quite Azeroth, but girls who log onto Mattel's new Barbie Girls online community can play games, chat and "hang out"
with other tween-ish participants, which sounds just as good
preparation as any for the chaos that they'll soon be able to
experience (as in, as soon as the parents' credit card gives the green
light) in more "mature" communities such as WoW, Second Life and the
upcoming PlayStation Home. Girls can naturally customize and accessorize
their avatars, with up to 2.64 quadrillion combinations available, and
"B Chat" with one another in a moderated and
as-safe-as-reasonably-possible environment. In July, Mattel will launch
a companion Barbie Girl MP3 player, which will allow girls who have met
in person and synced the player with each other's computer to
participate in "Secret B Chat," which allows more privacy and more open
conversation. The $60 device includes 512MB of memory and a miniSD
expansion slot, and unlocks additional content for the girls, alongside
$10 accessory packs that we're sure will make similar methods of
extortion, such as the Oblivion "horse armor" incident, seem positively
generous in comparison.

Article Link (Engadget)

Apple makes money on iTunes

Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves claims that Apple makes 10 cents on each song sold.

Hargreaves' breakdown on the wealth distribution inherent in a 99 cent download follows (thanks to Seeking Alpha):

Wholesale cost (music): 69 cents.
Network fees: 5 cents.
Transaction fees: 10 cents.
Operating expenses: 5 cents.
Profit per song: 10 cents.

Article Link (MacWorld)

Miuro Robot Speaker


Announced last year in Japan, the Miuro

is now ready to go around the house on its own. The robot speaker on
wheels who follows you about like an annoying child (but with better
tunes) is available not just in white but in a number of hot fruity
colors like Lemon Sunburst and Acid Orange* as well as basic black.
Miuro will connect now to your 802.11b/g wireless network to stream
music from your PC or play Internet radio. It will also connect to the
PC to use the new Autonomous Motion Package, a $166 PC software that
uses Miuro's camera to map your home or office and allows you tell him
where to go.In addition to the PC, an extra $133 will buy you the optional
Remote Communication Package, which allows you to use your cellphone to
send Miuro toddling off to its destination, taking a photo of the place
with his built-in camera on arrival.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Japanese Transformer Headphones: Beat Box Bot in Your Ear


Following in the vein of the Transformer sneakers, voice changing helmet, and iPod dock are these Japan-only Takama Tomy Transformer headphones.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Google, Intel, And Microsoft Fund CMU Robot 'Recipes'

Money from the three companies has enabled researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a series of Internet-connected robots that almost anyone can build using off-the-shelf parts.

Possible robots range from a three-wheeled model with a mounted camera to a sensor-equipped flower.

As part of the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK), a joint effort unveiled last summer between the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and Charmed Labs, associate professor of robotics Illah Nourbakhsh and members of his Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab have created a series of "recipes" for robot building.

The heart of the TeRK is the robot controller, called Qwerk, available from the Charmed Labs Web site ($349). The unit functions as an electronic brain and handles wireless Internet connectivity, motion control, and functions like sending and receiving photos or video, responding to RSS feeds, and searching the Net.

Qwerk is a Linux-based computer. It uses a field-programmable gate array to control motors, servos, cameras, amplifiers, and other devices. It also can accept USB peripheral devices, such as Web cameras and GPS receivers.

Article Link (Information Week)


Gostai is an innovative company developing tools and software for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. The core of our technology is the parallel and distributed URBI platform.

Gostai is a Paris-based company dedicated to Artificial Intelligence applied to Robotics. The core technology is URBI, the Universal Real-time Behavior Interface which is a powerful parallel script engine coupled with the UObject component architecture, usable to control hardware and software components in a flexible and portable way.

Our mission is to provide robot manufacturers and end-users with the best universal robotic platform, assocuated to state-of-the-art software modules (voice recognition, face detect, ...) in partnership with leading robotic sofware companies and academic research labs.

R&D Offices: 32 Boulevard Victor 75015 Paris, France
Subway stations: Porte de Versailles or Balard
Tramway: T3 Station Desnouettes

Company Website

Palm Sized R/C Helicopter Not Too Big for a Flyswatter


How small can these tiny radio-controlled helicopters get? This
one's palm-sized, and it has a color cycling multicolor LED to make
sure aircraft in the area are alerted to its miniscule presence.

This one looks like an even smaller version of the Picco Z helicopter
we tested late last year. The prices on these babies get lower all the
time—this one's just under $30. Take the jump to see a video of this
latest micro-chopper in action.

Article Link

SSD prices in freefall -- won't overtake hard disks anytime soon

Some Insights into Memory prices:

We've already heard from Sandisk that SSD prices should fall by about 60% annually.
Nice, but SSDs are currently 5x the cost of their mechanical brethren:
$7.5/GB compared to $1.4/GB for HDDs. Even by 2010, Samsung (backed by
DataQuest research) still estimates at least a 3.x gap: $2.5/GB for
SSDs vs $0.6/GB for HDDs.

Article Link

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

UK scientists building robot village

scientists at University of Abertay in the UK are setting up a

four-year study of 60 miniature robots in a "village" setting, and

we're hoping they've got room for a blogger or two. The bots will be

split into groups and programmed to observe and imitate one another

performing different tasks. Since the imitations will be slightly

different each time, the scientists hope to be able to develop a sort

of robot "culture" to try and understand how culture emerges in natural

and artificial societies. Then things will get really crazy, nerd

style. The scientists will alter conditions -- don't say we

didn't warn you -- to see how the robots will adapt, and will alternate

between states several times over a period of months to see just how

much they can screw with the hapless bots.

Article Link (Engadget)

It's Alive!

Mattel executives were intrigued – but recoiled when they discovered it would need eight motors; those cost $1 apiece, and a $30 toy couldn't include more than one or two. He told them they should build it and charge more. They told him he was crazy and killed the project.
Everyone knows how the story ended: Furby came out in 1998, and holiday
consumers went berserk, buying $1.2 billion worth of the $30 toy. Chung
made more than $10 million in royalties. He now had the freedom and
money to do precisely what he wanted.

Article Link

Petster - The 1985 Robot Cat

Though it might seem like another Ruxpin rip-off, Axlon actually had a
hand in creating both items. The company's frontman was no stranger to
robotics -- Axlon fashioned tons of 'em, of all kinds, and even a few
used for home video game systems and computers. Petster was in good
hands. The toy wasn't a mere stop-and-go creature; aside from all the
usual remote-controlled and sound-operated movements, Petster was
equipped with a sensor that let him stroll along, safely "exploring"
without hitting into any walls or kiddie feet. It might not seem like a
big deal now, especially after we've seen hundreds of toys that could
pull off similar feats. Well, this
thing was the prototype -- there's been tons of electronically enhanced
wonders to hit store shelves patterned directly after Petster, and had
the cat not set precedent for robots affordable enough for a kid to
receive on their birthday, the long-lasting fad might've never come to
be. If you've ever enjoyed a cute little robot toy, you owe Petster
some thanks


Article Link

Fake Falcon Robots Scare the Shit Out of Nuisance


The pigeons in Liverpool are getting out of hand. They're pooping
all over the place, getting fat and happy and generally creating a
nuisance. City officials have decided to bring in the Robops, robotic
falcons that scare the bejeezus out of the birds that many call "flying

For dopey pigeons, this $3700 robotic bird looks exactly like their
natural predator, the Peregrine Falcon. The robot can move its head
around convincingly, flapping its wings from time to time, springing up
and down on its legs and even turning toward the wind. Plus, it squawks
just enough to send shivers down even the most brave pigeon's spine.
The makers of these robotic falcon decoys have even been experimenting
with powering the animatronic birds with solar panels.

Article Link

Boeing and iRobot Building a Next-Gen Reconnaissance Robot

The folks at Boeing and iRobot are joining forces to build a lighter, faster and smarter version of iRobot's Packbot. The new SUVG Early will be used for bomb disposal and disaster relief operations.

Despite its midget Johnny 5 looks, the bot will have a video camera
and infrared sensors, which along with its toughened shell, will allow
its operator to guide it through rugged terrain. It's expected to be
ready for use next year.


Article Link

Saturday, April 21, 2007

KTF's surveillance canine beams snapshots via HSDPA

KTF has launched a
robotic puppy that just melts the hearts of gizmo-lovin' gals abroad.
Specifically, it garners a crowd of individuals wherever it's at, and
then pulls double duty as an undercover surveillance agent, snapping mobile images and channeling them straight to your cellphone via HSDPA.

Article Link (Engadget)

3 Myths That Stop Small Businesses From Selling to Wal-Mart, Traget or Other Major Retailers

The first myth they would have business owners believe is that you have
to be a Fortune 500 company to do business with Wal-Mart and others. In
Wal-Mart's case, they have 61,000 United States suppliers and thousands
more international suppliers, so they can't all be large companies.

Small companies still need to meet their vendor requirements, but if
you are applying under their "store of the community" program, you can
start by supplying only a few stores and don't have to meet the same
financial requirements as a national vendor.

The second myth is that Wal-Mart in particular will beat vendors
down on price so much that they will not be able to make any money.
While it is true that some suppliers don't make any money, those are
the suppliers who are selling a commodity and whose products are
identical to their competitors so it all comes down to price. In that
situation, the lowest cost producer may be the only one to make money.

Although all of Joe's products were in established categories, they
were also unique and different enough so that he was able to make good
profit margins even dealing with Wal-Mart and Target.

The third myth is that major retailers don't pay on time and will
make vendors wait 6 months to get paid. That's not true. As long as
vendors follow their published procedures, they'll get paid on whatever
time is negotiated when being set up as a vendor. Joe was able to get
paid in as quick as 10 days from Wal-Mart and in 30 days from Target.

Article Link

Friday, April 20, 2007

Airsoft Roomba kits up with plastic pellets

We always knew that the eventual robotic rebellion would come in stages (and would start with Roombas), so while many may take a childish satisfaction in seeing an innocent Roomba hacked up to shoot Airsoft BB pellets, we're constantly aware that this is another step towards the ultimate annihilation of all meat-based life forms. "Cool Bots!" MAKE cries,
oblivious to the destructive potential pent up inside the little
hoover's circuitry -- it's thinking: "I don't even need to try, they're
giving me weapons!" Fortunately, this is very much an early stage killer robot,
as the photos over on isobot's flickr stream attest. The modified
Roomba may look menacing with its red laser sight, but it appears as if
the little thing can't aim its plastic payload any higher than a few
inches off the ground, limiting its targets to feet and unsuspecting
house cats. Of course, that red laser also gives it more than a passing
similarity to a certain infamous robot / human hybrid. Today, Airsoft;
tomorrow, assimilation?

Article Link

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kondo Destroys! Kondo Smashes! Kondo Plays Soccer?


Kondo KHR-2 HV, the robot that plays soccer, fights with other bots and dances salsa, has got some new clothes.
First up is a shiny polycarbonate carapace that makes him look much
more studly and buff than his previous square-headed incarnation. All
the pretty little Ho'Bots will be bumping up to him as much as they
can, mark my words. His Robocop fabulousness costs $152.

Article Link

Monday, April 16, 2007

House Sitting Robot Takes Snaps of Invaders


This house sitting robot from Japan
doesn't actually walk your dog, feed the kids, or fetch the mail, but
it does make sure your house doesn't get robbed. Well, not exactly. It
doesn't stop the actual act of burgling, but it does take snapshots of
whoever broke in and made off with your HDTV and your collection of Knight Rider DVD boxsets.

Also, when the sensor is set off, the robot gives you a call on your
3G videophone and can stream a live feed so you can make sure it's not
your cat going berserk again before you call the popo.

Article Link

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More Women Online

Females now constitute an undeniable majority of the US Internet population. eMarketer estimates that there will be an estimated 97.2 million female Internet users ages 3 and older in 2007, or 51.7% of the total online population. In 2011, 109.7 million US females will go online, amounting to 51.9% of the total online population.

Estimates from other research sources concur that females represent the majority of US Internet users, ranging from 53% (Arbitron and Edison Media Research, for Internet users ages 12 and older) down to 50.6% (comScore Media Metrix, for Internet users ages 2 and older).

Article Link (eMarketer)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spider III - Electronic Learning Toy

Spider III - Electronic Learning Toy

With its radical walking style, this intelligent robot avoids

interference. This robot teaches us to turn the other cheek when

confronted in a challenging situation. SPIDER III emits a light sensor

beam; detects bogus things in front of it, signaling it to change

direction and continue on a new path of righteousness. Do you know why

SPIDER III is so cool? It has more features and costs less than the

older version.


Article Link

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sega Unveils Robotic Baby Chicks

We should be thinking about these small ideas and push the envelop with new concepts that are in the $9.99 price range.

My late grandfather owned a chicken coop, which regularly produced a
few dozen yellow, fluffy chicks every year or so. If you’ve ever had
the opportunity to spend much time around baby chickens, you’ll notice
a few things:

Cuddly? Check. Yellow? Check. Cute? Check. Prone to crap on
everything in sight and make a mess of your easter clothes?
Unfortunately, a smelly check there as well.

Now Japanese toy maker Sega
has developed a range of robotic baby chickens that remove the messy
bits and retain the furry, cuddly parts of these popular critters.
According to Reuters, the little gadgets will wiggle their wings and
peep when stroked. They don’t do much else, but it’s obvious that the
appeal of fuzzy little robots endures. Check out some additional
Reuters photos and some video as well. (Source: Reuters) - [Jeff James]

Article Link

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spidey-inspired Spi-Dog wags to your iPod

If you're looking for the perfect way out of getting a real canine in
your life, or you're simply one of "those people" who just have to have
every single I-Animal that gets loose from the farm, we've got yet another option to add to the fray. The Spi-Dog touts a Spider-Man-inspired
motif, as the ominous eyes and perked ears let you know that this
crime-fighter means business, but alas, the diminutive 4.75- x 3.25- x
5-inch size, light-up face, wagging motions, and blinking LEDs make
this fella quite the softy. Per usual, this I-Dog flashes and busts a
move whenever exposed to music, touts a "built-in speaker for playing
your iPod" (or any other DAP / PMP), and is available now for the fanboys and Spidey freaks alike for $39.95.

Article Link

iRobot launches Verro poolbots

Robots and pools aren't always so very chummy, but iRobot's new Verro
600 (pictured) and Verro 300 pool cleaning bots are all about the
water, and should be able to beat the pants (or hose, if you will) off
of any standard pool vacuum. These aren't the first robotic pool vacs
we've seen, Aqua Products had the Aquabot T2
a ways back, and in fact iRobot has teamed with Aqua Products to build
these new Verro bots. Both Verro models clean the entire pool "from
floor to waterline" in 60 to 90 minutes, using iRobot's patented AI and
some fancy vacuum, jets, brushes and filtration systems. The $799 Verro
300 is designed for gunite or concrete surfaces, while the $1,199 Verro
600 does up vinyl, tile and fiberglass pools. Both are available now.

Article Link

Thursday, April 5, 2007

PLEN robot ready to skate into your life

If you've been admiring PLEN's skateboarding and rollerskating skills from afar, you're now only a massive credit card bill away from having one school you up close, with at least one store now stocking the pint-sized bot. Snagging it from AudioCubes will set you back a hefty $2,399, which we hope would also include his trusty skateboard, although the product description doesn't state as such. Sure, it's a little exorbitant, but we're guessing that at least some of you will think it's worth it, even if just to see the look on your Robosapien's face when it skates out of the box. Better not take too long to decide though, as the company's apparently only making 50 of 'em to start with in order to judge interest.

Article Link (Engadget)

Webkinz short supply spurs expeditions, high prices

"They're hot. They sell out within 12 hours of coming
through the door," said Donna Schofield, a manager at
Stationary Toy World in New York. "We're almost sold out, and I just got them in two days
ago," said Karl Wong, the floor manager at Zitomers in New

"Toy companies," said Silver, "realize the Internet is a
major component of the future of play."

Article Link

Licensing Show nears capacity

NEW YORK—Exhibition space at this year’s U.S. licensing show, Licensing 2007 International,
is nearly sold-out, show manager Advanstar Communications said today.
According to Advanstar, 91 percent of the exhibition space for this
year’s event is now under contract to exhibitors.

The show, set to take place June 19-21, will feature more
than 500 companies across approximately 215,000 net square feet of
Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center.

Article Link

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

MIT Creates a Better Foot

One of the problems biomechatronic engineers face is making limbs
that behave like normal limbs. After all, how hard would it be to walk
with one normal foot and one weird one? The biomechatronics lab at MIT
has developed a foot that attempts to mimic the normal behavior of a
standard foot while walking over various terrain.

The foot has a rotating ankle joint attached to an artificial shin
and a board-like surface for the part that touches the ground. We're
always excited when we hear about advances in prosthetics, because one
of our greatest fears is losing a limb in a horrific blogging accident.
Don't laugh. It could happen.


Article Link

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Remote Control Floating Service Tray


How didn't we think of that?

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Branding : Roomba and Scooba

market robots, these devices more resemble flying saucers than
androids. Like Rosey, however, they are intended to revolutionize the
mundane world of housecleaning.

Roomba, introduced in 2002, is a vacuuming robot that has sold over two million units worldwide. Scooba,
introduced in late 2005, is the first floor-washing robot available for
home use. Both brands have sprung from iRobot, the same company that
supplies bomb-sniffing robots to the US military.

iRobot itself has an
interesting background. The company's co-founders, Rodney Brooks, Colin
Angle, and Helen Greiner, worked at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab
where, in the late 1980s, the a batch of pretty cool robots were being
developed. The three decided to commercialize the technology and
launched iRobot in 1990.

In its first decade, iRobot concentrated on non-consumer
applications, such as a robot developed for extraterrestrial
exploration, and the PackBot,
whose military usage has skyrocketed in this latest era of terrorism.
The PackBot's primary role is to detect roadside bombs and booby traps
in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. In late January 2007, iRobot won a
US Navy contract—worth over US$ 16 million—for more than 100 PackBots.

In September 2002, iRobot took a bold step and entered the consumer
market with Roomba, a brand that is widely regarded as the first
practical and affordable home robot. (Sorry, Rosey.)

Bringing a brand like Roomba to market was no small challenge.
Supposedly the brand name was derived from Roomba's circular motion,
playing on the word "rumba," a dance style. The product design itself
is eye-catching, and the device can be mesmerizing to watch. It is
disc-shaped, about 13 inches in diameter, weighs about five pounds, and
moves around in circles, something like a whirling dervish. It detects
objects by gently bumping into them and then cleans around them.
Needless to say, it is smaller and lighter than and looks nothing like
a conventional vacuum cleaner.

That was part of the problem. How could you convince a consumer
who never even heard of robotics that the odd little Roomba was the
best thing since—well, if not sliced bread, then a bread-slicing "robot"?
The company decided it wasn't just any consumer who would be intrigued
by Roomba. The initial marketing strategy called for targeting the
product to early technology adopters, so the company chose upscale
distributors such as The Sharper Image and Brookstone.

Around the time of Scooba's introduction, iRobot launched a major integrated marketing campaign called "I Love Robots."
It featured both Roomba and Scooba, along with real customers talking
about how much they love the products. The campaign included print,
cable television, and outdoor advertising, as well as direct marketing.

In September 2006, iRobot introduced a specialized cleaning robot called Dirt Dog
for cleaning garages, basements, and workbench areas. The device
maintains the same round design as Roomba and Scooba, but Dirt Dog is
designed for heavy duty, more like a robotic Shop-Vac than a
traditional vacuum cleaner.

Article Link