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An autonomous robot to carry medicines around in an hospital

settembre 22, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Once again from Japan, we have another robotic novelty, this time coming as a small autonomous robot, which can move on its four wheels and carry material quickly from one side to the other inside a public shared space.

Its codename is MKR-003, and it was designed by the robotics manufacturer Muratec. Its natural environment is inside a hospital, where it can be used to carry swiftly and comfortably, thanks to its “tray”, not only medicines from one department to the other, but also meals to be served to patients, thus making workload lighter for hospital personnel.

The technological endowment that this autonomous robot sports includes, among other things, an array of sensors to calibrate its movements to the right point, two cameras inside its eyes, a small LCD screen to display messages (for example to inform nurses about who is going to be administered a certain medicine or so), a voice recognition software, as well as the ability to “talk” with simple sentences.

With its multidirectional four wheels, it can move quickly and autonomously in any direction. In fact, thanks to its artificial intelligence, it is also able to learn the road towards a certain destination after walking it once, and it can dodge obstacles and objects along its way, thanks to its sensor that allow it to create a real-time map of its position, as well as of other objects and people around it.

MKR-003 was created by order of NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization), a Japanese governmental organization which promotes development of technology for scientific use.

Your telephone company is remotely monitoring you

settembre 22, 2010 Technology No Commenti

According to information coming from Japan, NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone), that is, the largest telephone and telecommunications company of the Land of the Rising Sun, is at work on an electronic bracelet, similar to those used to keep an eye on detainees released on parole.

The difference lies in the fact that this bracelet, along with detecting its wearer’s geographical location, can also detects their movements thanks to a miniature camera, a microphone and an array of accelerometers which can measure speed and direction of the motions they detect.

Thanks to this technological setup, the bracelet designed by NTT is able to measure its wearer’s hands’ movements, to view the objects that they pick up or use, and to record sounds from the surrounding area, sending all the gathered data to a remote server which, by matching the information with pre-loaded data, is able to determine the actions and chores carried out during the day, like ironing, cooking, typing and so on.

For example, this kind of bracelet on the waist of elderly people would allow distant family members to keep them under control and make sure that they do not do anything wrong and potentially dangerous. Currently, the bracelet is still in its early development stages, and is only able, right now, to identify approximately fifteen actions.

In its final version, it should be able to recognize hundreds of actions, and should have a smaller size and a wireless connection to transmit the data it gathers. The only doubt that we get is whether it is really developed only for a humane usage such as assisting older people, or there is something else behind it.

Seeing at night requires the right glasses

settembre 21, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Those with serious eyesight problems know too well that night time can be a real torment for them, as they are often forced to stay home to avoid the risk of running into dangerous situations. In fact, what for a person with no eyesight problems is simply a dark alley, for a visually impaired can turn into a deadly trap full of dangers, and even a small hole in the ground can cause a serious injury or worse.

The problems that this causes are not only of a practical nature, but they affect most of all the quality of life of those with such problems. To make it possible for the visually impaired to go out at night, and to improve their eyesight also during the day, technology lends us a hand thanks to night glasses.

Night glasses contain a small digital video camera, placed on top of the frame, which would display the images it picks up straight into two small screens on the inner side of its lenses, basically placing the image right before the eyes of its wearer. They can also work with an additional source of infrared light to improve performance at low frequencies, and are equipped with a digital zoom to magnify any object of interest.

Usage of a pair of night vision glasses is recommended for people with serious eyesight problems but who are not to be considered “legally blind”, that is, with at least 1/10 eyesight. Using these glasses can provide an immediate benefit not only at night, but also when directly flooded by sunlight which would normally blind anyone staring, making vision temporarily impossible.

For more details and information about night vision devices, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website and consult our experts.

New accessories and features for Flip microrecorders

settembre 21, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Following to the recent wave of miniature high definition video recorders, capable of shooting videos and photos in high quality, Cisco has finally decided to update its Flip, by adding new functions, improving its technical characteristics and y making its models even smaller and easier to handle.

These micro recorders, which set the reference standard in the segment of high quality amateur digital video recording, are now equipped with an image stabilizing system to improve the quality of their video footage. Depending on the model, as usual, their memory capacity may vary, as well as their graphic resolution.

The top end model, 8Gb Ultra HD, is now thinner than it was in its previous version, and along with the image stabilizer, it sports a new FlipPort, an expansion port which can be used to connect a wide range of accessories, such as for example an external microphone, a picture projector, an external hard drive to add more gigabytes to its memory capacity, and so on.
All this, of course, while sticking to the Flip philosophy which provides for an extreme ease of use due to its single button for all functions, and to the retractable USB connector which allows you to pair your Flip with a computer within seconds and without having to install any driver or software to download its files.

The only problem seems to be that, while its competitors are rushing headlong on the 1080p resolution, the Cisco-made model is a bit left behind with its 720p and 60 frames per second. For Flip enthusiasts, though, this does not seem to pose any kind of problem.

Two robotic legs to help those who can not walk

settembre 21, 2010 Technology No Commenti

One of the latest novelties in the field of robotics, and more specifically in robots for home assistance, designed to make life easier for those confined on a wheelchair, is coming (as usual) from Japan.

It is called FuRo Core, a bipedal robot, which can carry a weight of up to 100 kgs. This prototype is equipped with two robotic legs that allow it to walk while carrying on its shoulder (or rather, on a platform placed above the legs) either some heavy and bulky material or, better, someone who has serious problems in walking independently.

These robotic legs are flexible, and this means that FuRo can climb up a flight of stairs, bend and squat downwards to allow its passenger to step up or down. Developed by the Institute of Technology of the Japanese town of Chiba, FuRo Core is still in its early development stages, and it is literally taking its first steps forward.

What its designers hope is that it can provide a valuable help for handicapped people, allowing them to move beyond the borders of what they would do with an ordinary wheelchair, for example by climbing or descending a flight of stairs, or walking up or down a slope, which could pose a serious threat if negotiated on wheels.

Thanks to it, a disabled person who can not walk, along with being finally able to move around more freely, might have an improvement especially in his morals; in fact, for those who can walk normally, going upstairs or downstairs does not pose any kind of problem nor it is anything special, but for those who look at the world while sitting on their chair, it could be a giant leap forward, and any technological device designed to make their life better is certain to receive a warm welcome.

250 knots speed for the world’s fastest helicopter

settembre 21, 2010 Technology No Commenti

A few months ago we mentioned the X2 Demonstrator project, an helicopter with two coaxial rotors which was being tested by Sikorsky for an attempt to break the world speed record for choppers. Generally, a conventional copter (with two rotors each one on its axis) can reach a top speed of approximately 170 knots, and already during the early test phase, X2 had topped it by reaching 181 knots.

A few days ago, the Sikorsky X2, during an unofficial test flight, has recorded a much higher speed by marking 250 knots, well above the official record which stands at 216 and is held since 1986 by the British Westland Lynx helicopter.

The 250-knots mark was the initial target of the X2 Demonstrator project, and Sikorsky is planning to use its technology, and the experience acquired during the course of this project, two build ever faster double rotor coaxial helicopters, with an eye for stability and ease of use.
In fact, the X2 prototype shows that a chopper can reach such high speeds, while losing nothing under the point of view of maneuverability, both at high and low speeds, and of stability when it floats mid-air or while gaining speed.

Now, the challenge lies in mass production of helicopters with these characteristics, and in the integration of any technology that Sikorsky’s clients will require, from weapons to video devices for aerial surveillance and high-speed and high-flexibility reconnaissance missions.

Once this integration is completed, the future of copters can be rewritten… at a speed of 250 knots!

Bluetooth micro earpieces, an invisible and vital presence

settembre 20, 2010 Technology No Commenti

When you need to gather confidential information and relay it to someone who is far away, without making the people around you aware, or when you need to receive instructions from outside in the same discreet fashion, you might certainly use a little help from technology.

In situations of different kinds, which may range from an important meeting to a police operation, from a show or concert, where the leading actor may forget a few lines from his part, to an intelligence gathering in a case of corporate espionage or struggle against crime, a valuable help can certainly come by using an invisible earpiece.

Invisible earphones are placed inside the ear canal of their wearer, and thanks to a microscopic antenna, they are able to communicate via Bluetooth with an equally small transceiver device, which can be concealed inside the pendant hanging from a necklace, or inside a wristwatch. This transceiver can also house a SIM card just like the ones we use on our mobile phones, in order to be able to send and receive its signal (and its intelligence) towards someone who might be hiding even on the other side of the world.

In this way, the wearer of the secret earpiece will be able to receive instructions on the steps to take, based on the information that it gathers invisibly and that are transmitted through the Bluetooth connection. By doing this, the remote counterpart will receive information in real time, and interact with the person carrying out the operation, sending him immediate instructions which will ensure the best possible outcome of the entire job.

For more information on how micro earpieces are working, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website and request personalized advice from our specialists.

Unattended luggage? Problem solved, SUBITO!

settembre 20, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Along the years, a long string of terrorist attacks in airports, railway stations or public buildings have been carried out with bombs placed inside an abandoned bag or suitcases, and nowadays, the presence of an unattended piece of luggage immediately puts surveillance personnel on the alert.

Now, a consortium of organizations from several EU countries is working on a project, called SUBITO (Surveillance of Unattended Baggage and Identification and Tracking of Owner), which consists in an array of intelligent surveillance cameras, capable of identifying an abandoned bag.

As soon as it locates one, the system would start searching among its footage, until it finds the exact moment when the owner of the bag has left it behind. At that point, it will search for the image of the owner among those picked up by the various surveillance cams placed in the area, until it can track down his movements, and if the search points to a person leaving the building or premises, the system would immediately alert security personnel to verify the presence of a possible threat.

All this is achieved thanks to a facial recognition software which can determine a person’s identity thanks to only one frame, and to recognize him among a crowd, determining the direction in which he is moving in case it loses contact, in order to regain contact. The software can also recognize features such as the way one walks.

SUBITO will be able to detect a dangerous situation not only by the presence of an unattended backpack, but also by analyzing the presence of other people and objects inside the premises, objects that indicate a possible threat and make it possible to determine that a group of people is carrying out an attack.

A waterproof and shockproof tablet PC for military use

settembre 20, 2010 Technology No Commenti

American Industrial Systems (AIS) has just released its latest creation: a tablet PC, similar to an iPad, specifically designed for military applications and not only. In fact, Military Panel PC can be used also in aerospace industry and in transportation, thanks to its features and characteristics of extreme durability.

It is a portable Tablet PC, housed into a fully sealed shell, waterproof and resistant to shock, compliant with IP67/NEMA military specifications in terms of resistance to water and dust.

Thanks to its sturdiness it can be used even in the harshest environmental conditions, and can even be immersed in water. To operate in an easy and intuitive way it is equipped, just lke a normal Tablet PC, with a touchscreen to enter commands and select among available options. Furthermore, its touchscreen is equipped with a special protection layer which eliminates the risk of moisture caused by humidity following to a submersion in water or usage in moist environments.

Its display is easily legible even under direct sunlight, and its inner parts are protected by an aluminum shell, while external connectors, exposed to shock, moisture and dust, are of a special type in order to withstand the kind of threats posed by an unfriendly environment. Military Panel PC can operate at temperatures between -20 and +60 degrees.

With such features, AIS caters mostly to military departments and administrations, which can provide their personnel with a high resistance tool, but it also keeps an eye on transportation companies which might need to keep a constant information flow with trucks and vehicles operating in difficult conditions.

Even soldiers can have their skateboard

settembre 20, 2010 Technology No Commenti

For US soldiers deployed in war zones with a rough terrain, where walking is not the easiest of tasks, especially if done while carrying heavy backpacks containing heavy and bulky military equipment, the opportunity of having a personal means of transport is certainly warmly welcomed.

If, on top of that, it is also some sort of skateboard, then it would be as fun as it is useful, especially during long waiting hours behind the lines or far from the action, when it could be used to have some well-deserved fun.
This kind of skateboard, called DTV Shredder, of course does not look too much like the normal boards on wheels, as it looks like something halfway between a tank and a Segway, or, if you like, a Segway with caterpillar tracks.

Thanks to its tracks, Shredder can move on the roughest terrains, at a maximum speed of approximately 40 kmh, just like a city scooter. On top of that, it can negotiate steep slopes up to 40 degrees, and all this while carrying up to 500 kgs of heavy material.

Along with making soldiers’ life easier during long marches, this sort of skateboard can also be used for short surveillance and reconnaissance missions, to rescue wounded personnel and evacuate them swiftly from dangerous zones, or simply to carry heavy material on short distances thanks to its engine providing a 15-horse power.

Of course though, soldiers on the frontline can use Shredder for all this… but also to have a bit of fun on the side, racing other buddies or doing a little bit of freestyle while they are not busy with dangerous missions!

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