Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for May, 2012

Microsoft’s new sensors: Humantenna and SoundWave

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After the Kinect sensor, Humantenna and SoundWave are two new sensors that Microsoft is working on together with the University of Washington in Seattle.

Humantenna uses the human body as an antenna to pick up the electromagnetic fields — generated by power lines and electrical appliances — found in indoor and outdoor spaces. Users wear a device that measures the signals picked up by the body and transmits them wirelessly to a computer. By studying how the signal changes as users move through the electromagnetic fields, the team was able to program the system to identify 12 gestures, such as a punching motion or a swipe of the hand, with more than 90 percent accuracy.

Humantenna requires users to wear a sensor. They are still working in its robustness.

SoundWave relies on an inaudible tone generated by a laptop’s loudspeaker. When a hand moves in front of the laptop, it changes the frequency of the tone, which the computer’s microphone picks up. By matching characteristic frequency changes with specific hand movements, SoundWave can detect certain gestures with an accuracy of 90 percent or more, even in noisy environments such as a cafeteria.

Human-[robot/computer/machine] interaction can get huge benefits from these two new sensors.

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Robotic glove developed by NASA and GM

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While Robonaut 2 has been busy testing its technology in microgravity aboard the International Space Station, NASA and General Motors have been working together on the ground to find new ways those technologiescan be used.

The two groups began working together in 2007 on Robonaut 2, or R2, which in 2011 became the first humanoid robot in space. NASA and GM now are developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to perform their respective jobs, while reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries. Officially, it’s called the Human Grasp Assist device, but generally it’s called the K-Glove or Robo-Glove.

In this image, Robonaut and a spacesuit-gloved hand are extended toward each other to demonstrate the collaboration between robots and humans in space.

Image Credit: NASA

How this robotic glove can be used for other apps?

Cocorobo – A Talking, Dog-Watching Robot Vacuum Cleaner from Japan

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Another Roomba coming from Japan – more features (receives up to 30 verbal commands and uses sonar and infrared sensors, 1 hour of continuous performance – don’t know if it is more intelligent) and more expensive (almost 4 times Roomba).

Is it a threat to Roomba?

By Sarah Berlow, May 8, 2012.

Cocorobo’s many gadgets make iRobot’s popular Roomba look like it should be sold alongside Easy Bake ovens. Voice recognition technology enables Cocorobo’s vacuum to respond to greetings or commands — in multiple languages or dialects.  (So far, though, its vocabulary is limited to about 30 phrases, such as “I understand.”)

Cocorobo dances around in reply to commands, resembling the Jetson housekeeper’s friendly compliance. A camera also enables Cocorobo to watch the pet left at home, sending photos via cloud technology to the owner’s iPhone or other smartphone. It can vacuum for up to an hour before requiring a recharge. It does so by linking itself at a port, and has a USB port installed in the vacuum to download updates, such as an expanded vocabulary.

With so much technology heaped onto it, Cocorobo’s vacuuming capability seems almost an afterthought, though Sharp claims it also has an extra-powerful vacuuming system.

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Google moves closer to becoming an Artificial Intelligence Engine

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Are we going to see improvements in our internet search soon?

I was thinking that Google couldn’t change or improve because it was so big, well-established and essentially a monopoly. Perhaps it still can offer new solutions…

by , Thursday, May 17, 2012

Google began rolling out a feature that gives searchers in the United States the potential to access more relevant and in-depth responses to answers without leaving the page. The concept is built on something the company calls “knowledge graph,” which ties together words to create relationships.

There are a multitude of sources behind this data. The search results page displays a variety of content related to keyword queries, bringing up a list of facts, photos, and landmarks, as well as quick links to other popular uses for the search term. Think of a Web beneath the user interface layer of the Internet that ties together all information across the Web.

Rob Garner, vice president of strategy at agency iCrossing, said Google’s knowledge graph takes another step in the company’s long transition to develop an artificial intelligence engine — semantic search. “It’s something Google’s doing in parallel to Schema.org in terms of relating object, places and people,” he said. “Looking at the schema for a person you can actually define the relationship with other people using schema vocabulary.”

For example, someone looking for information on Marie Curie will see her birth and death dates, but also details on her education and scientific discoveries. The search engine understands much more…

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Spherical flying machine developed by the Japanese Department of Defence

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This is the world first Spherical Flying Machine developed by the Research department at the Japan Administrate of Defense:

  • It flies vertically and horizontally, like a humming-bird.
  • It’s unmanned.
  • It can land in any attitude because it’s round
  • It can also move along the ground
  • It can fly 8 minutes continuously, from 0 to 60 Km/h
  • It was build from commercially available parts with a total cost of $1400 USD
  • Applications: rescue and recognizance

Source
Spherical Flying Machine – Watch More Funny Videos

We need Service Robots to feed disable students

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Dear Teresa, My name is Paul Doyle and I am Head of Access R&D at Hereward College in Coventry. Hereward is a residential college that supports disabled students. We have for some years developed a keen interest in the use of robotics as an assistive technology.

I have been in contact with many providers of robots over the years from the PR2 at Willow Garage to the Care-o-bot by Fraunhofer with little tangible progress. What we have failed to achieve to date is to embed and evaluate an actual device in a real care/living/education environment such as Hereward to see if it actually works and if it is financially viable!

I would like to challenge any robot for example to help with the scenario I posted recently on a Linkedin forum:

Today when I was having lunch in our refectory I observed a number of students (with a variety of physical disabilities) waiting in an orderly queue for a human career to help feed them their lunchtime meal. Due to a shortage of careers some of the students waited for a very long time before a staff member could ask what the student wanted from the menu, picked up the chosen meal from the counter and then fed the student in an appropriate manner (food at the right temperature consistency and rate).
This situation led me to ponder the questions could a robot have helped carry out these tasks to some degree, and bearing in mind the care staff are paid not much over minimum wage, when (if ever) will a robot alternative be a financially viable?”

I would hope manufacturers could see this exposure to a group of users as a development resource, as we have a residential care and education setting where such technologies can be tested in a managed and safe environment.

Many of the young people at Hereward will eventually be the recipients of assistive robot technologies if and when they come online, so hearing what they need/want would I imagine provide a useful insight to product developers.

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Silicon Valley is not a leader in Robotics

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In Silicon Valley (SRI), the most effective, least invasive surgical treatment option available today was created.

You might be interested to learn that:

  • Of $29 billion of venture capital raised by companies in 2011, only about $160 million went to robotics companies.
  • There are currently 17 million robots at large in the world. At the current rate, the number of robots doubles approximately every 2.5 years.
  • About 80 robotics companies have been tracked in Boston compared with fewer than 40 in Silicon Valley.
  • In March, Amazon.com acquired Kiva for $775 million and plans to use its system to overhaul the online retail giant’s order fulfillment centers. Kiva started in Silicon Valley but moved to the Boston area where the investors were ready.
  • The USA east coast has natural assets like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which churns out leading robotics graduates. And several years ago, people in the robotics industry began to gather on a regular basis, holding regular robotics summits, educating VCs, lobbying state legislatures for research grant funding and educational funding. That was key in their leadership.

By Chris O:Brien, Mercury News Columnist, Posted:   05/05/2012 03:00:00 PM PDT

Attention, Silicon Valley: We are losing the robot war!

Not the apocalyptic one where robots rise up and enslave humans or wipe us out or turn us into cute pets. As far as I can tell, that one hasn’t started. Yet.

No, I’m talking about the battle to be the world’s capital of the emerging robotics industry. On Thursday, I attended a forum at SRI in Menlo Park called “The Future of Robotics in Silicon Valley and Beyond.” Given the growing chatter I hear, I assumed Silicon Valley was leading the robotics revolution as it does in, well, just about every other area of technology. I know that sounds like I’m being a valley snob, but it does have the merit of usually being true.

Usually, but not in this case. The robotics forum delivered a sobering message: Silicon Valley is sucking on the fumes of such regions as Boston and Pittsburgh, which have become the leading robotic regions. In general, much of the day felt like I had entered a Bizarro-alternative universe where the valley was a high-tech also-ran, the Des Moines of robotics, and other people came to lecture us about how to become a technology cluster, the importance of networking to drive innovation, and the need for venture capital to fund big ideas.

In other words, they were quoting from the playbook that Silicon Valley wrote!

“Robotics is one of those rare fields where rather than leading, Silicon Valley needs to play catch up,” said Wade Roush, editor of the

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The SICK laser sensor is currently mandatory for autonomous robots – if we want the ability to perceive the world, and therefore show a bit of intelligence

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The security SICK laser sensor is currently mandatory for autonomous robots – if we want the ability to perceive the world, and therefore show a bit of intelligence. It costs almost 3000 euros. While not without its drawbacks, this sensor represents the  state of the art and is the most expensive component in a current autonomous robot.   If we produce robots as prototypes, not on a large scale, we can not provide inexpensive robots yet.

James Falasco – I am curious about the comment that the SICK sensor is mandatory . How so ?

Teresa – Jim, The SICK laser sensor is still mandatory for robots or vehicles that need to show intelligence because:

  • it’s the most reliable distance sensor for medium-long distances, much more than sonar or infrared (which is basically useful for very short distances)
  • it’s necessary to perceive the boundaries of the environment to autonomously build the map of it. The map is necessary for the robot to know where things are.
  • The linear laser, such as SICK, has also drawbacks. The main one is that it only perceives one line.
  • The best way to go would be to have all the information needed and interpreted from a camera, which would be much less expensive, and with richer information.
  • Although we have developed a cognitive vision system which gives meaning to the objects of an image, with two cameras you can get distances to objects, yet we still need further development and some integration to use only camera.
  • We have also integrated into the Cognitive Brain the Kinect sensor with great success. It gives us depth in a conical area in front of the robot, although with short reach (we can’t see the limits of the rooms) and very sensitive to light changes (not good in exterior settings yet).

Summary: We use laser, Kinect and camera sensors. We can’t avoid the laser yet, which is the most expensive component of the whole robot, by far.

I am sure that with more development we can make the camera work to completely substitute the laser. I would love to do it.

Comments of other experts on the subject are very welcome. Thanks.

Read the comments.

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Cognitive Robots is actively seeking working partnerships and investment capital

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My name is Teresa Escrig (TeresaEscrig.com).  I’m the founder and CEO of Cognitive Robots.

We’ve successfully developed the worlds first truly autonomous Cognitive Brain, and have focused our efforts on Service Robotics.

We’re actively seeking both working partnerships and investment capital.

Highlights to-date include:

  • A part of the Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics has been successfully incorporated into a commercial floor scrubber machine, as well as a Pioneer research platform (investment from different sources).
  • Our ‘Manual Assisted Driver’ has been successfully incorporated into forklifts and buses (funded by the Spanish government).
  • We have integrating the Cognitive Brain into our own service robotics platform.  This will be launched in the next few months, and can be used for a variety of applications, including companion, security, marketing, air contamination detection, etc. (funded by Spanish government).
  • The Cognitive Brain is being incorporated into Robosoft’s companion robot Kompai of (funded by a European Project).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like further information, we’ve prepared a .pdf document that explains in detail what we have and are offering.

If you are interested, please, contact me at mtescrig@c-robots.com

Kind Regards, Teresa Escrig, PhD, CEO Cognitive Robots

“How to be a technology innovator – without an engineering degree or Asperger’s”

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Another incredible TED talk about the power of believing in ourselves and understanding that every single individual possesses a Genius Mind that can be unlocked. I truly believe so. And I very strongly support any example where we can demonstrate it to ourselves and eliminate doubt.

Published on: April 30, 2012 By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

Meredith Perry is the founder and CEO of Wireless recharging startup uBeam. She is not an engineer by training or a expert. She knows how to use Google, and she knows how to think differently.

In her TEDxNashville talk “How to be a technology innovator – without an engineering degree or Asperger’s”, Meredith argues for non-experts to broach innovative solutions and learn new technology with the help of Google, Wikipedia and by consulting with college professors and such “experts”. She found that said “experts” often have contradictory and different opinions.

In her talk she says,

“But because I already learned not to trust one person’s opinion, I become immune to the naysayers.

For each technological hurdle deemed insurmountable by the experts, I would spend just a few hours thinking about the problem from a variety of sources. As Steve Jobs said, I had to think differently – so I found solutions based on the acoustics of musical instruments, based on other technologies, from authoritative sources such as Wikipedia and when I would present my progressto engineers, they say, yeah that could work. So I was able to solve problems when the Ph.D experts couldn’t with just a few hours of really simple research.

Every single argument why the technology couldn’t’t work has been indisputably wrong and for every objection that has been raised I have found a solution. This was another very important lesson for me to learn. Engineers are inherently linear thinkers and tend to take a very binary approach to solving problems.

When faced with a problem, they think can this work, can this not work. I think – how can I make this work? As a non expert I had an advantage because I could look at the problem from different angles because I just didn’t know what was possible. Being naive is sometimes a good thing. Because without constraints the world is literally your oyster…

My experience also made me wonder, how many game-changing brilliant ideas out there thought of by laypeople, teenagers, store clerks, paleobiologists have been squashed by experts that said it wouldn’t work? I know that if I weren’t as stubborn as I am I would have chucked this entire idea 8 months ago because I was told my idea wasn’t possible.

But by thinking differently, by thinking outside the box, by thinking around corners you can outthink the top thinkers. They say that the most revolutionary ideas in the world were considered crazy until the point where they became revolutionary.

Dream out loud, ask questions, take risks, never give up, keep pushing and believe in yourself even when no one else is.”

22 year old Meredith Perry was recently featured in Forbes “30 Under 30? for her energy startup uBeam.