Monday, July 21, 2008

iRobot ConnectR Cancelled?

It will be almost a year since iRobot introduced ConnectR and nothing new has been known about it for months. iRobot still has the ConnectR posted at their official website but nothing else has been added recently. In the past month they have been conducting surveys but not necessarily for the ConnectR since they mix many unrelated questions into them. Could it be that iRobot is changing their tactics and merging the ConnectR technology into the Roomba? It could be possible since Microrobot has already done so with their Robotcam. Hope that iRobot does not give up on ConnectR but instead they should continue innovating their products and introduce new technologies into the domestic robotics market.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reem-B at Abu Dhabi catwalk!

We have been following Reem-B for the past couple of months. This humanoid domestic robot was officially revealed at Abu Dhabi on June 11, 2008. Developed by the PAL Team from Spain, ReemB is the successor of Reem-A that introduced many advances for true humanoid service robots. Progress was made in the areas of voice Publish Postcommands, facial and object recognition, better battery technology for full physical autonomy and lift/carry strength. This group is definitely moving towards the proper direction and a step closer to create a NS-5 style robot. This is a company to keep an eye on since they may become the trend setters for domestic humanoid robotics. I wish continued success and progress to Reem-B and the PAL team!

Monday, July 14, 2008

iRobot Has Finally Created a Robot Lawnmower

On May 2007, iRobot filled patents for three designs of their very first try at a robot lawnmower and they have been recently published. Rumors have existed about iRobot creating their very own lawnmower robot for the last 2 years and iRobot has only given indirect hints of such a robot. What makes this news interesting is that iRobot knows how to mass market domestic robots like their successful Roomba but the issue will be timing. Will this robot be successful as the Roomba with the current financial problems happening in the United States and other countries? Personally I can see how iRobot can make this product be practical and useful but not many people will be wiling to pay a premium price for a new robot. Also these robots are geared towards home lawns and in the United States many are loosing their homes and jobs to have such a robot. iRobot has a potential great product but timing is totally wrong, they missed it by at least 2-3 years. My suggestion is to either shelf it for 3-5 years or make models that are as economical as their entry level Roomba.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spykee: The Domestic Telepresence Robot

Erector, the company that makes the famous nuts and bolts building kits since 1911, introduced Spykee to the world at CES 2007. Erector was the first to introduce the idea of telepresence domestic robot, this is before iRobot's ConnectR and WowWee's Rovio. It very much seems that Erector (Meccano in Europe) hit a nerve with the domestic robotics industry and will be the very first one to have it available in the market by September/October 2008. Spykee has a camara (320 x 200 pixel at 15 fps), internal 2 W speaker, 2 DC motors to move its tracks, IR sensors, internal microphone, WiFi and is able to automatically charge its batteries. You will be able to control Spykee via the web to check on your loved ones and/or home, can be used as a VoIP phone system (compatible with Skype), can play your MP3 collection, can act as an alarm system to send you pictures to alert you via the web and the best thing is that you can take certain elements apart and re-design your robot to look differently (currently there are 3 different designs that could be built). Many details are still not available on this very interesting robot but it will be interesting to see the differences between Spykee and Rovio in the upcoming months after their release. Enjoy the ride!

Friday, July 4, 2008

How Far Are We For A NS-5 Domestic Robot?

I have always been interested, in one form or another, in robotics but it was not until the "I-Robot" movie web promo of the NS-5 robot that really sparkled my imagination. For the unaware, the movie promo web sight seemed as the robot was an authentic and true product! You were able to choose the model, color and even special accessories for this domestic robot. Certain technologies do exists today to make the NS-5 domestic robot a reality, the problem is not with the mechanics but with the artificial intelligence. For an NS-5 style robot to exist today it would need enough intelligence to understand and execute what the owner commands to do and be able to distinguish everyday obstacles and situations that is difficult for current robots to resolve. It could be that a base-line algorithm is all that it takes to kick start a true artificial intelligence but in the mean time it is just Sci-Fi.