bots IN BRIEF
SCAREBOT FOR THE BIRDS
Steven Hall and Randy Price of the LSU AgCenter have found an
answer to the question,“How do you keep predator birds away from
growing catfish and crawfish in ponds?” The answer is Scarebot — a robotic
boat that is solar powered and drives around at about 5-7 mph. When its IR
sensor knows a bird is nearing, it triggers a water canon to chase it away.
The bot recently gained attention from John Cole of Tennessee's Mt.
Pelia Innovative Solutions who sees the Scarebot as a good thing and will
help fund its production.
HAND POSSESSES POTENTIAL
In an interesting meshing of robotics and
prosthetics development, Japanese researchers from
Tokyo University working in conjunction with Sony
Corporation have created an external forearm device
capable of causing independent finger and wrist
movement. Introduced on the Rekimoto Lab website,
the PossessedHand (as it’s called) can be strapped to
the wrist like a blood pressure cuff and fine-tuned to
the individual wearing it. The PossessedHand sends
small doses of electricity to the muscles in the
forearm that control movement, and can be "taught"
to send preprogrammed signals that replicate the
movements of normal wrist and finger movements
(such as plucking the strings of a musical instrument).
Though the signals sent are too weak to actually
cause string plucking, they are apparently strong
enough to cause the user to understand which finger
is supposed to be moved. Thus, the PossessedHand might be construed to be more of a learning device than an actual guitar
Currently, devices that do roughly the same thing are
done with electrodes inserted into the skin, or work via
gloves worn over the hand — both rather cludgy and
perhaps somewhat painful. This new approach in contrast is
said to feel more like a gentle hand massage.
Though the original purpose of the PossessedHand
seems to be as an aid to help people learn to play musical
instruments — something that has inspired a bit of
criticism from the musical community due to the fact that
nothing is actually learned when using the device — the
Hand basically becomes an external part of the instrument,
while the brain remains passive. It seems clear the device
could be used in many other ways. For example, it could
be used by hearing people to assist in speaking with deaf
sign-language users or to help people type who have never
learned how. Or, perhaps more importantly to help
paralyzed people or those suffering from a stroke.
22 SERVO 08.2011