Monday, December 22, 2014

Braigo: Teen Student Created Braile Printer with LEGO Robotics


"Tech giant Intel backs schoolboy inventor

Shubham Banerjee
Mr Banerjee's original Braille printer was made out of Lego robotics parts

A 13-year-old boy from California has secured funding from Intel to bring a low-cost Braille printer to market.

Intel has not disclosed the exact sum it is giving to Shubham Banerjee, but the Reuters news agency reported it was "a few hundred thousand dollars".

The teenager rose to prominence after showing off a prototype version made with Lego kit, at the White House, when he was aged just 12.

Only a minority of blind people use Braille.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) estimates that about 4% of visually impaired children and young people in England currently use it.

Even so, the charity greeted the news.

"We welcome investment in technology that aims to improve everyday life for blind and partially sighted people, and especially applaud this brilliant initiative from such a young entrepreneur," said Clive Gardiner, RNIB's head of reading and digital services.

Shubham Banerjee Mr Banerjee showed off an early version of Braigo v2.0 in September

"Electronic Braille has great potential, but has been hindered to date by high device costs for users.

"New innovations for low-cost Braille printers such as this one... can transform reading choices for people with sight loss who read Braille.

"We look forward to hearing more about its progress."
Braille 2.0
Until now, Mr Banerjee's company - Braigo Labs - had relied on $35,000 (£21,920) worth of cash from his parents to turn what was originally a science fair project into a proper Silicon Valley start-up.

The original Braigo v1.0 printer used Lego's Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit as well as parts from a local home renovations store.

Users wrote text via an attached keypad, which the machine then converted into Braille, bashing out the raised bumps on a scroll of paper.

The invention won Mr Banerjee several awards and a place at the White House's inaugural Maker Faire in June, attended by President Barack Obama.

He has since begun work on a follow-up version, which is powered by Intel's budget-priced Edison chip and uses 3D-printed parts..."

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Should a robot fly Coach, Business, First Class, or Cargo Hold?

Great little article from Daily Mail...


The robot that's going on HOLIDAY! Athena becomes the first robot to buy a seat on a passenger plane - and 'she' even has her own passport

  • The robot, dubbed Athena, was created by German roboticists 
  • It is the first humanoid robot to have paid for a seat on a passenger plane
  • Athena was checked onto a flight from Los Angeles International Airport
  • It was pushed in a wheelchair, dressed in a shirt and sneakers, onto Lufthansa flight number 9801
  • Owner Alexander Herzog is taking Athena to Germany to teach it to walk
  • It will be developed at the Max Planck Institute for Computational Learning and Motor Control Laboratory..."
It’s quite common for celebrities to cause a stir as they board flights in Los Angeles, but a very different kind of passenger excited paps at the airport today.
Athena became the first humanoid robot to have paid for a seat on a passenger plane when it boarded a Lufthansa flight to Germany.
The robot even had to check-in and collect its tickets before being strapped into the flight..."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jobs for Robots, YES... Jobs for Humans???

"As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published. Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years – allowing machines to mimic the human mind – are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago – and lower than any point in the 1990s..."

Read the full article at its source:               

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Soon, Robots Will Take Care of Old People.

The shape of life in the near future? It sure beats "I've fallen and I can't get up!"

"About Accompany Project
The proposed ACCOMPANY system will consist of a robotic companion as part of an intelligent environment, providing services to elderly users in a motivating and socially acceptable manner to facilitate independent living at home. The ACCOMPANY system will provide physical, cognitive and social assistance in everyday home tasks, and will contribute to the re-ablement of the user, i.e. assist the user in being able to carry out certain tasks on his/her own."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Finally, A Low Cost Student Robot for the Kids of the World!

"Harvard Researchers Build $10 Robot That Can Teach Kids to Code"

"Mike Rubenstein wants to put robots in the classroom.

Working with two other researchers at Harvard University, Rubenstein recently created what they call AERobot, a bot that can help teach programming and artificial intelligence to middle school kids and high schoolers. That may seem like a rather expensive luxury for most schools, but it’s not. It costs just $10.70. The hope is that it can help push more kids into STEM, studies involving science, technology, engineering, and math.

The tool is part of a widespread effort to teach programming and other computer skills to more children, at earlier stages. It’s called the code literacy movement, and it includes everything from new and simpler programming languages to children’s books that teach coding concepts.
Rubenstein’s project grew out of the 2014 AFRON Challenge, held back in January, which called for researchers to design low-cost robotic systems for education in the developing world. Part of Harvard’s Self-Organizing Systems Research Group, Rubstein has long studied swarm robotics, which aims to create herds of tiny robots that can behave as whole, and he ended up adapting one of his swarm systems in order to build AERobot. It’s a single machine—not a swarm bot—but it’s built from many of the same inexpensive materials.

He and his colleagues assembled most of the electronics with a pick-and-place machine—a machine that automatically builds printed circuit boards—and in order to further cut costs, they used vibration motors for locomotion and left out a chassis. The device doesn’t include its own programming interface or charger. It gets both from a desktop or laptop computer, plugging into the USB port. “There are no extra frills,” Rubenstein says..."

Read the full article at its source: