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CES 2011: Scooba Slims Down

The original Scooba floor cleaning robot never caught on, but a trimmer version is on the way.

1 min read
CES 2011: Scooba Slims Down

The original Scooba floor cleaning robot never quite caught on like Roomba, its carpet-cleaning sibling. It was big, bulky, and kind of a mess to deal with—you had to wrestle to get clean water in and dirty water out, and it sometimes left floors soaking wet, not so bad for vinyl or tile, but not so good for hardwood.

That left an opening for other approaches to floor cleaning robots, like the Mint from Evolution Robotics.

But Scooba is back. The Scooba 230 announced at the 2011 CES in Las Vegas is smaller, cheaper at $300, and its tiny tanks are easier to fill and empty. At 16 cm in diameter and 9 cm high, the company says, it can get into small spaces and around furniture, but it can still scrub 14 square meters in a session.

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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