Watch Georgia Tech's Musical Robots Evolve Into Shimi the Robot DJ

See how researchers from Georgia Tech turned musical robots into a DJ you can buy

2 min read
Watch Georgia Tech's Musical Robots Evolve Into Shimi the Robot DJ

It's always fun when we get to follow a robot as it evolves in a research lab somewhere and then finally makes it out into The Real World.™ Shimi, who we first met at Google I/O back in June, has a lineage at Georgia Tech stretching back many years, so I thought it would be kind of cool to take a look at some of the research that went in to making this robotic DJ (which, by the way, is now on Kickstarter).

These videos come from Gil Weinberg's Robotic Musicianship Group at Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. This first one, from 2008, shows Haile, a robotic drummer that can detects the beats played by a human (sounds like a familiar feature, right?), along with the coincidentally named Shimon, a robotic marimba player that can improvise based on the analyzed scale played by as human piano player.


By 2009, Shimon is sounding pretty good, although it's still missing a head.


In late 2009, we see Shimon with a head, and he knows how to use it, a feature that you'll also find in Shimi.


It looks like Shimi was originally called Travis, no doubt after Georgia Tech alum and fellow robotics blogger Travis Deyle. Here's a demo of Travis from last year:


The promo video for Travis is the same as the one for Shimi, with one exception: Travis apparently offers the option of a smoke machine, lasers, and dancers, while Shimi does not. Boo!


The Kickstarter video itself wraps up Shimi's lineage nicely, and if you're a fan of the project, $150 will get you one as soon as they're available.


[ Shimi on Kickstarter ]

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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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