Automatons do chores, play tunes, and talk among themselves
On 11 June, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. unveiled a 6-meter-diameter organic-light-emitting display (OLED) globe at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, in Tokyo. The Geo-Cosmos display comprises more than 10 000 OLED panels. The interactive globe can be programmed to show global climate patterns, the locations of different species, and the impact of extreme weather events such as the March 2011 tsunami that struck Japan.
Photo: MIRAIKAN: National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
RoboDynamics, of Santa Monica, Calif., is marketing its humanoid robot Luna as a domestic servant capable of walking the dog and serving drinks. Who hasn’t, on the hottest and coldest days, wished for a butler, human or automaton, to carry out those chores? The US $3000 robot can be controlled from its 8-inch touch-screen display by voice commands or through its cellular connection.
Photo: Rex Features/AP Photo
Workers for Himin Solar Corp., China’s largest maker of solar water heaters, are checking the reflectors on the roof of a building in Dezhou, Shandong province, that harness the sun’s rays. The reflectors focus the solar energy on linear absorbers, where water is superheated to 250 °C. The steam then goes through a heat exchanger to power a steam generator.
Photo: Imaginechina/AP Photo
Robots have joined the band. The highly refined kludge towering over the stage is the MahaDeviBot, a machine designed and built by students at the California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia. MahaDeviBot can strike 12 different percussion instruments gathered from around India, including frame drums, bells, finger cymbals, wood blocks, and gongs. It is one of three robotic noisemakers that are part of the Karmetik Machine Orchestra. The band’s aim is to create and use the latest in sonic technology for composition and performance.
Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo
Someday, patients may not need to have blood drawn at a doctors’ office to find out what ails them. Alberto Bilenca, a researcher at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, has developed a system whereby a red laser pointer aimed at a person’s finger can detect malaria parasites in his or her blood. A cellphone’s display shows the telltale image.
Photo: Amir Cohen/Reuters
Soon, virtuoso tongue wagging won’t be solely the province of politicians and PR reps. A tongue drive system undergoing clinical trials at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, includes a magnetic tongue piercing. The subject in the photo successfully navigated the course, steering the wheelchair by moving his tongue to different quadrants of his mouth.
Photo: Steve Kagan/The New York Times/Redux
Keep your cool in the summer; stay toasty in the dead of winter. That is the promise of the ClimaWare jacket made by Dhama Innovations in Hyderabad, India. The jacket takes advantage of the Peltier effect, whichcomputer designers exploit to keep laptops cool. The thermoelectric device and plastic Peltier plates, which regulate body temperature with no moving parts, run for 8 hours on a charge of the jacket’s rechargeable battery.
Photo: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images
These tiny robotic cars, developed at the University of Queensland, in Australia, use cameras, sonar, and laser range finders to learn about their environment. But the standout feature of these “lingodroids” is their ability to talk to each other and continually develop a shared language that they use to describe location, distance, and direction. Their games could improve the safety and navigation systems in full-scale vehicles.
Photo: University of Queensland/Reuters
This image, which at first glance could be mistaken for a photo of an alien autopsy, actually shows engineers from the Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, in Colombia, fine-tuning a robot designed to detect antipersonnel land mines.
Photo: Hector Fabio Zamora/GDA/AP Photo
This device is part of a network of sensors that monitor an experimental dike near Bad Nieuweschans, on the Germany-Netherlands border. One of the aims of the experiments, which are part of the EU’s UrbanFlood project, is to develop an Internet-based early warning system that would send out an alert if a dike fails. The sensors are taking a host of measurements that will give researchers a better idea of what precedes a failure.