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This Robotic Black Box Will Make Your Life Warmer

Hagent sucks up wasted heat, and then follows you around to keep you warm

2 min read
This Robotic Black Box Will Make Your Life Warmer

This robot may not look like much. In fact, we're absolutely sure it doesn't look like much. But if you give it a chance, it'll be your new best friend on those cold and lonely winter nights as it stores up heat and re-emits it to keep you nice and toasty.

Under that featureless cubizoid exterior, Hagent, as the robot is called, has some wheels, some sensors, and a big pile of phase-change material. Phase-change material (or PCM for short) is something that stores or releases energy when it changes from a solid to a liquid (or any other combination of phases) or vice versa. So for example, let's say you've got a cup of coffee that's really really hot. You could put some kind of PCM into it, and the PCM would melt, absorbing the excess heat and making your coffee drinkable. Then, as the coffee cooled down, the PCM would re-solidify, releasing all that stored heat keeping your coffee warm for much longer. Sounds like a great idea, right? Right!

Hagent takes that heat storage concept and mobilizes it for the purposes of using energy more efficiently and keeping you cozy when it's cold out. The robot can sense heat (like an oven, a fire, or anything else), and when it does, it drives over and hangs out, letting it's pile o' PCM suck down as much energy as possible. Then, it'll follow you around, acting like a little space heater as its PCM re-solidifies, up until the PCM has emitted all of its stored up heat. It's cute, and it's mostly free, since all Hagent does is take heat that you've already produced and shift it around a little bit.

Created by Andreas Meinhardt and Daniel Abendroth from Germany, Hagent is still at a prototype phase. At the moment, the robot appears to be powered by batteries, but if there was some way of using, say, a Stirling engine to charge it up, you'd have yourself a heat-powered, heat-seeking, heat-storing heater robot. Yes, that would be totally hot.

Watch the prototype in action in the video below.

[ Hagent ] via [ Ubergizmo ]

The Conversation (0)

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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