ARMED AND READY
Fraunhofer has developed a sensor system that — with its remote — can move a
robotic arm. Its technology is so advanced that it can catch a ball or move when the
remote does.Algorithms help the technology detect movement and the European group
hopes that future applications will include service robots and prostheses. The arm was
unveiled at a Nuremberg trade fair in June.
Researchers presented an industrial robotic arm with six joints, at the end of which
was a catcher.Visitors could control the arm using a handheld input device. When they
move the hand holding the device, the robot emulated their movement."The input device
contains various movement sensors, also called inertial sensors," said Bernhard Kleiner of the Fraunhofer Institute for
Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, who led the project. The individual micro-electromechanical systems
themselves are not expensive. What the scientists have spent time developing is how these sensors interact."We have developed
special algorithms that fuse the data of individual sensors and identify a pattern of movement. That means we can detect
movements in free space," summarized Kleiner.
ANDROID GOES GREEN
If you’ve been following the news coming out of Google I/O recently, you know
that the Android OS is now being used to control lots of hardware besides phones
and tablets. Android has been spotted running laptops, appliances, TVs, and more.And
now, a particularly interesting application will allow that beloved little green robot to
control a vegetable garden through the Cloud.
Brilliant Service (a Japanese company) has created a solution for a computer-controlled growing system known as a plant factory which they are calling Farmbox.
These self-contained ecosystems are offered as a solution to the woes of modern
agribusiness: the rising costs of quality produce, use of polluting fuels in both its
production and transportation, dependence on climate, and the presence of dangerous
chemicals. The solution brings vegetable cultivation into the home in the form of the plant factory which they see as becoming
something of a household appliance. Environmental factors such as lighting, water, and air temperatures, nutrient, and oxygen
levels will be regulated and maintained by an app on an Android phone. The app will upload data on your growing conditions to
the Cloud where it can be accessed by other growers who will then be able to duplicate identical conditions in an entirely
different location. Through this data-sharing system, the developers hope to achieve their vision of allowing anyone, anywhere,
to grow good, healthy vegetables, effortlessly and inexpensively.
PLANT GUARD CUTE AS A BUG
Have you ever had trouble taking care of your houseplants? Well, the Korean
Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a simple
“robot” just for you. They’re calling it a “plant guard robot,” and you stick it in
your potted plants to monitor the soil moisture in real time. Apparently, its for
plants that require regular care (not plants like cacti). If the water level falls below
a certain level, a red LED will blink and the cricket will make a noise. If all’s well, a
soothing blue LED pulsates. Retail price will run about 9900 KRW ($8 USD). In
the future, they want to include other features like specializing it for certain plants
or for detecting radiation levels or other harmful environmental factors. You can
probably find something similar in stores, but they’re probably not this cute!
Cool tidbits herein provided by Evan Ackerman at www.botjunkie.com, www.robotsnob.com, www.plasticpals.com, and other places.
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