Category Archives: Robotics

Virtual Reality Empathy and Robot Delivery

Long time, no podcast! We are back! This time, Nora talks about this Nautilus article on using VR headsets to foster empathy, and the disturbing idea that empathy may be on the wane. Cathi has a more lighthearted story with Digit, a bipedal robot that would deliver packages to your door via autonomous vehicle, when those cars are not otherwise being used (via New Atlas). Check out the video! Nora mentioned a few related stories that ran on Spark in the past: Friction-free racism (relevant part is at the end of the interview) Paul Bloom on rational compassion  [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/10196678/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Robots for Seniors and Pre-Internet Trolls

This time, Cathi Bond looks at ElliQ a companion robot for older folks who may need a little support. Would aging Baby Boomers who still want autonomy and something tech forward adopt this kind of thing in years to come? (Via IEEE Spectrum) Nora Young mentions this article in the British Library blog, documenting the strange history of Johann Struensee, who brought in freedom of the press to 18th century Denmark, only to be immediately publicly ridiculed in that newly free medium. Well worth a read, as the author describes Struensee's mockers as 'proto-internet trolls' (H/T Hacker News) [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8659226/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Realistic Robots, Tiny Drones, Smart Hiring

Best of the season to you! Cathi and I are back with some fun for the holidays. This time on the podcast, Cathi Bond talks about Affetto, this startlingly realistic android robot. Cathi wonders about having something like this, or Rock Hudson, say, as a home companion. Personally, I (Nora) find it kinda creepy. What do you think? We take a quick look at the city of Helsinki's decision to go for a hiring system that removes all personally identifying info (eg sex, age, mother tongue) in an effort to get beyond bias in hiring. It seems to have worked for orchestras; could it work for city governments? Cathi is also pretty obsessed with drones these days, like the tiny dji Mavic Pro (see the review at New Atlas) Would you like a drone of your own? How should they be regulated in light of the recent events at Gatwick airport? And as always this time of year, the greatest Christmas movie ever, The Thin Man! Obligatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT6x9Aullek [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8038604/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Innovation in heating and cool new robot

Cathi Bond talks about Swiss research into a process that supposedly stores summer heat for use in the frosty winter months. Read about the process here. Meanwhile, HOLY CATS! Nora Young talks about Boston Dynamic's cool/freaky new robot, Handle (via Mashable) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7xvqQeoA8c [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5139620/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Food Trends: Robotic Pizza and Reputation Economy for Diners

On this podcast, Nora Young talks about Seven Rooms (via Fortune), an online reservation service that also stores data about diners and club-goers. Is the reputation economy coming to the hospitality sector? It reminds Nora a bit of Super Sad True Love Story. Meanwhile Cathi Bond talks about Zume, a roboticized pizza system that aims to complete the cooking in the delivery truck, solving the problem of "dwell time" and soggy pizza crust (via New Atlas). Cool innovation or harbinger of Wall-E?   [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4735405/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Ingestibles for Health Care and Humanoid Robotics

Nora Young talks about this ingestible monitor for the body's vital signs, courtesy of MIT research. Alongside Proteus, which promises "digital health" via tiny sensors attached to medication, Nora wonders if we're entering a new era of ingestibles for health. Cathi Bond and Nora talk about the potential future of monitored health. Meanwhile, Cathi Bond discusses a new generation of humanoid robot, Surena, from researcher Aghil Yousefi-Koma from the University of Tehran (via IEEE Spectrum). Nora mentions a fascinating robotics panel at this conference, and Baxter, the pretty darned inexpensive robot. Nora promised to check out the Robot Operating System, which is "...a collection of tools, libraries, and conventions that aim to simplify the task of creating complex and robust robot behavior across a wide variety of robotic platforms".   [iframe style="border:none" src="http://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/3994734/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/theme/standard" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

A.I. Therapy and Singularity…or Skynet?

Yay! We're back for season ten(!) of The Sniffer, and excited about another year of trendwatching and sniffing out what's happening in the technoculture. If you're just finding us now, you can learn more about Cathi Bond here, and Nora Young here. Nora is fascinated by technologies of self-tracking, technology and the body, advances in A.I., and bicycle tech. Cathi loves to sniff out trends in arts, culture, and publishing, with a side dish of robots, rural tech, and wacky gear. Hope you'll join us! This time, Nora looks at the story of Ellie, the A.I. psychologist, and wonders if, nearly 50 years after Eliza, A.I. therapy might be ready for its closeup. Would you engage with an artificial intelligence therapist? (Via The Economist). Cathi takes a broader view with a recap and thoughts on Nell Watson's recent talk about the future of A.I (via Gizmodo). Have we reached a point where A.I. is actually ready to do the kinds of things the past ~50 years have promised? Will they take all our jobs? You can watch the video for Humans Need Not Apply here.

Robots on the Farm and Implantable Tech

This time, Cathi Bond talks about the Agrirover, a robot designed to run 24/7 on livestock paddocks, combing the field looking for spots where grazing grass is damaged by, erm, pee (via Scoop). A chat about robots down on the farm ensues. Meanwhile, Nora Young mentions that Motorola has a patent on an "electronic skin tattoo" (temporary!) to transmit voice and also to serve as a power supply (via PCPro, and others). The premise is that it would be a microphone and a power source. For me (Nora) it's interesting mostly as yet another example of how normal implantables and wearables are going to be in the next 5 years or so. In the near term, though, would you use something like this?

The Sniffer, Feb 9th, 2013: Trends in Trackers and Robots

This time on the podcast, Nora Young talks about the Pebble smart watch. We used the Pebble as a topical 'hook' to a recent piece on watches on Spark, and that got me thinking about what makes this great looking little watch so appealing. It reminded Cathi Bond of the Little Printer, a smart, digital solution that looks analog, that looks friendly. Nora mentions all the self-tracking tools and health monitors that were at CES recently (see, for example, Technology Review's coverage here). Cathi Bond talks about the RP-VITA which is a remote presence robot that can wander health care facility halls, checking in on patients, thus allowing doctors who are far away to see patients virtually (via Medgadget). It can even allow the remote physician to consult with other doctors. Interestingly, it's from the iRobot people, who brought you the Roomba. And, Nora has a quick hit: Swisshotel has a handy dandy 'single serving' website that notes handy tips for travellers to different cultures: stuff like tipping, gestures, and dos and don'ts (via Lifehacker). Nora thinks lots more businesses will do this sort of thing for branding purposes - useful info connected to your product's brand that can live as an app. Have you seen any good examples of this?