The August 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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The All-In-One Guitar Playing Robot and Game

Robots that can play games like Guitar Hero have been around for several years. But Intel and National Instruments have created a new demo that can run everything

1 min read
Screenshot of demo
Photo: IEEE

With all the excitement surrounding the release of Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band, I decided now was a good time to post a video I shot last month at National Instruments Week. In the past we’ve covered the way Guitar Hero could help amputees train brain-computer interfaces and how to turn the controllers into real musical instruments. It’s been over a year since we posted about Slashbot, a robot that could play the game.

Today’s video features another guitar-playing robot. But this one is different: the musical game (in this case, the open-source Frets on Fireclone), the vision acquisition system (that reads the notes off the screen), and the robotic control are all running off a single processor. Check it out:

This demo was a way for Intel and National Instruments to show off their new virtualization tool, which allows engineers to assign a specific task to a particular core. I thought it was a rather impressive way to show off the technology, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Is this virtualization capability worthwhile?

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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