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Saturday, August 28, 2010

iNfO mAcHiNe: RIBA the friendly robot nurse

iNfO mAcHiNe: RIBA the friendly robot nurse

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sony delays larger screen OLED TVs?

Those of us eagerly awaiting the arrival of a successor to the Sony XEL-1 OLED TV may have to wait a little longer, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Sony has delayed development of larger screen OLED TVs. Although Sony had attendees at CES 2009 salivating at prototype 21-inch and 27 inch OLED TVsng to ‘sources close to the company’ the XEL-1, which was released in late 2007, apparently won’t be getting a bigger brother until 2010 at the earliest.
Sony’s company-wide operating loss of JPY 25.7 billion yen (approx. USD$268 million at time of publication) for the first fiscal quarter of this year probably has something to do with the decision. The cost of mass-producing the next-gen TVs wouldn't be cheap and, according to those familiar with Sony’s plans, would exacerbate existing losses within Sony’s TV division.
Sony has refused to comment on the rumors but, if they're true, it could leave Sony playing catch up with competitors Samsung and LG, who are both pushing ahead with plans for OLED TV production. LG is even aiming to have a 15-inch OLED TV on Korean shelves by Christmas.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Flip MinoHD announced

MInoHD Of Amazon's top five selling camcorders, versions of the Flip take four of the slots. The 4Gb MinoHD holds fourth position, but things never stand still for too long in the world of gadgetry and the MinoHD has just been supercharged. The second generation model features more memory, a bigger viewing screen with better resolution and a more powerful lens.
How do you make one of the world's favorite handy camcorders even better? Cisco, the company that now owns the Flip brand after acquiring it from Pure Digital earlier this year, has started by doubling the internal memory to 8Gb. This will give users around 120 minutes recording time. Improvement is also seen in the lens which now offers a fixed focus of 0.8m to infinity instead of 1.5m to infinity on the 4GB version.
An upgraded video engine (version 3.5) has been added for improved performance. The anti-glare TFT viewing screen size has been increased too, now standing at a diagonal two inches, and its resolution has been bumped up to 960 by 240. Direct connection to a high definition TV is catered for with the inclusion of a HDMI output and a stereo microphone has been added too.
In common with the first generation offering, the new MinoHD comes in standard or user-designed colors, video quality is 720p at 30 frames per second, there's a 1/4.5" HD 2.2µm pixels CMOS sensor, a fast f/2.4 lens, digital zoom and a built-in speaker. Let's not forget the pop-out USB 2.0 arm (not Superspeed USB 3.0 yet folks) which gives the product line its name and the FlipShare software that has been highly praised for its ease of use and simplicity.
The second generation MinoHD Flip is available in the US only (at the moment) and has a recommended retail price of USD$230 (with the earlier HD version still available at USD$200 and the non-HD Mino standard at USD$150).

Friday, September 4, 2009

RIBA the friendly robot nurse

It might look like a cross between a snowman and a badly-designed toy polar bear, but the nursing fraternity should appreciate this robot that can lift patients in and out of beds and wheelchairs on command, while at the same time saving nurses’ backs and improving patient care and safety.
RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) is said to be the first robot that can lift up or set down a real human (up to 61kg/134lbs) from or to a bed or wheelchair. RIBA does this using a combination of its very strong human-like arms and by novel tactile guidance methods using high-accuracy tactile sensors. RIBA was developed by integrating RIKEN's control, sensor, and information processing and TRI's material and structural design technologies.
Robots like RIBA could prove themselves very worthy acquisitions when you consider the number of times patients in hospitals and care facilities are lifted and moved each day - no wonder many care-givers struggle with bad backs, injuries and exhaustion, not to mention the patients who suffer from poorly-executed moves. Then there are patients who can’t be moved often enough when nursing staff is limited.

First RI-MAN, now RIBA

RIBA is the second generation robot to emerge from RIKEN-TRI. The first model, named RI-MAN, had limited safety and performance functionality, but RIBA’s human-like arms equipped with high-precision tactile sensors and a body encased in a soft exterior of urethane foam, guarantees patient safety and comfort say its makers.
The nursing robot responds to operator's commands from the basic “hello", "goodbye" and “shake hands”, through to lifting up and down, and other more intricate moves. Motion is adjusted and suspended or resumed by touching on RIBA’s tactile sensors. Its base has omni-directional wheels so it can move in any direction.
RIBA has specially-created joint positions and link lengths designed for lifting up a human. It’s slim arms and joint structure have high rigidity and high output torque, while two cameras and two microphones allow it to follow an operator using visual and audio cues. When the operator is within its view, RIBA detects the position (direction and distance), and moves to the operator's front. RIBA also detects sound source direction.
The robot’s body is covered with soft materials and the elbow and waist joints are isolated, making RIKA safe for physical interactions with humans. This softness also contributes to patient comfort when they are being lifted. A teddy bear shape was deliberately used to put patients at ease and to give a friendly, non threatening, appearance.
Staff can control RIBA's motion by directly touching its tactile sensors. RIBA's makers say this is an intuitive control method because the contact position and force direction coincide with those of the desired motion. By pattern processing RIBA can detect the operator’s touch even when in the process of lifting a human.


  • Height: 140cm/55in
  • Weight: 180kg/400lbs (including battery)
  • Payload:61kg/134lbs (tested value)
  • Area tactile sensor with 128 sensing-elements (for each upper arm), 86 sensing-elements (for each forearm)
  • Hand sensor with 4 sensing-elements (for each hand)
  • Vision sensor: two cameras
  • Auditory sensor: two microphones
  • Operation time: one hour in standard use
  • Actuator: DC motor
  • Power: NiMH battery
  • Base movement: Omni-directional with omni-wheels
The nursing-care assistant robot has been created by the Riken-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research (RTC), which was established as a joint collaboration project by RIKEN and Tokai Rubber Industries, Ltd (TRI). They believe robots like the RIBA should be able to alleviate much of the burden surrounding manual patient moves in hospitals and aged-care facilities.
RIBA is scheduled for release in the near future, but until then RIBA can be seen in action through a series of videos.
In a world coming to terms with an aging population, robots like RIBA are going to play an increasing part in patient care.

Iveco Electric Daily LCV prototype begins testing in Brazil

Iveco is showing a prototype of its new Electric Daily in Brazil, a vehicle destined to become the first zero emission light commercial vehicle produced in Latin America. The vehicle has regenerative braking, a range of 100km (65 miles) and a fully-laden top speed of 70kmh (43mph).
The project builds on Iveco’s long-running research and development of electric propulsion, which started with the development of the first Daily with pure electric drive in 1986. This new project is a collaboration between Iveco and Itaipu Binacional, an organization which manages the largest hydroelectric generating station in the world, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The production of the prototype will enable suitability testing to be carried out, looking specifically at the utilization of electrical energy for the transportation of goods and passengers. The project puts Iveco on target to become the pioneers of zero emission transportation in the Latin American market.
The prototype, based on a crew cab Daily 55C, is equipped with three sealed Zebra Z5 sodium, nickel and chloride batteries. These batteries do not produce gaseous emissions and are maintenance-free and totally recyclable.
Once the tests have been completed the Electric Daily is expected to enter production with Iveco at the same site where the Fiat Palio Electric is already produced. This builds on the partnership initiated in 2006 between Fiat Automoveis and Itaipu Binacional for the production of the first pure electric traction automobile in Brazil.
The first ten Electric Dailys manufactured in the production center of Foz do Iguaçu will be supplied to Itaipu Binacional and its associated companies. However, the project is also attracting significant interest among other large companies across both Brazil and Argentina. A second prototype based on a different configuration of the Daily is already scheduled for production by Iveco and Itaipu Binacional at the beginning of 2010.

Another global broadband offering from Verizon: the UMW190

Not even a month has passed since Verizon announced that it had partnered with the USA arm of China's ZTE to release of the AD3700 USB modem which offered users worldwide coverage from a single device. And now the company is at it again, declaring the forthcoming availability of the UMW190 USB modem, which does essentially the same job in a slightly smaller and cheaper form.
The stylish black UNW190 offers worldwide wireless broadband connectivity via a combination of Dual-Band CDMA 1xEV–DO Rev. A/Rev. 0: 800/1900MHz, Tri-Band UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA: 850/1900/2100MHz and Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900MHz capabilities. It has a pre-installed 'Global Ready' SIM card, a visual two-color LED status indicator, two-way text messaging capabilities and promises simple plug and play installation and configuration. It also supports VPN and NDIS.
Like the AD 3700 it connects to your mobile device via swivel USB (which, when not in use, is hidden via a sliding cover), comes with access management software, will connect automatically and is compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista.
The UMW190 is smaller than the AD3700, measuring in at 2.8in x 1.4in x 0.6in and slightly lighter at 1.4oz. It's also a bit cheaper at USD$49.99 (after a USD$50 mail-in rebate when a new two-year contract is signed).
The device is available now online at the Verizon Wireless website and through the company's business sales channels, and will hit Verizon stores later in the month.
Not wishing to repeat myself but, like I commented in my overview of the AD3700, at face value the only advantage that the UMW190 appears to offer is the convenience of not having to locate wireless broadband as you arrive in whatever country you're traveling to.
Given that such connectivity can often be low-cost or even free in some areas of the world, it may be worth doing some research before jumping into a new two-year contract when purchasing this particular mobile broadband solution.

Oshkosh demonstrates TerraMax autonomous vehicle system

The ability of military vehicles to better protect occupants with modern designs and high-tech materials has become an increasing priority and UK firm Amsafe has already seen success with its Tarian armor plating in the U.S. Oshkosh Defense, part of the U.S. Marine Corp’s MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected) program, is also heavily involved and a recently announced armor system took an alternative approach with an emphasis on mobility. Development of its new TerraMax vehicles seems almost flawless in its potential, however, at least in protecting the lives of the soldiers on board because, put simply, there aren’t any.
TerraMax, the latest in unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), was recently demonstrated by the Wisconsin-based company, a leading contributor to autonomous vehicle technology, at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Fort Hood III Corps Robotics Rodeo in Texas. Two unique demonstrations illustrated current capabilities in robotic logistics convoy operations, advanced perception technology and human-assisted change detection by incorporating the latest in advanced robotic hardware and software.
As well as computer-controlled steering, acceleration, braking and transmission, a new laser scanner offers enhanced sensing abilities and 360° obstacle detection, as well as the ability to reduce the visual signature of the vehicle’s sensors so that it can better blend in with military fleets.
Oshkosh is currently working on improving occupants’ situational awareness by creating an immersive 3D display to render imagery from previously driven routes and combining it with real-time data to improve response times and aerial imagery.

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