Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto… We hope you enjoy this Friday 5 that brings you some recent tech milestones in robotics and research.
Research scientists at MIT have created reconfiguring robo-cubes called M-Blocks that can climb over one another, spin, and jump with no external moving parts. Like a live game of tetris! As the video describes, ”these are modular robots with the ability of changing their geometry according to task and this is exciting because a robot designed for a single task has a fixed architecture. And that robot will perform a single task well but it will perform poorly on a different task in a different environment.” The futuristic promise of these robots is pretty amazing.
The Open Hand Project aims to bring a low-cost option to the prosthetics market. Although this Indiegogo campaign has only raised about half of it’s £39,000 goal, it’s a great example to how 3D printing and robotics may open the doors to innovation that was previously hindered by high material costs. Is there anything a 3D printer can’t do? (Rhetorical -or- you may leave a comment if you wish.)
The Wildcat, who’s roar is like that of a chainsaw on a fall day, was introduced this week as Boston Dynamics latest robotic achievement. Words actually don’t do this machine justice — just watch the video below as the 4-legged creature hits galloping speeds up to 16 MPH before stopping on a dime to change directions. This robot is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in hopes of being able to maneuver and operate on any type of terrain.
Stanford researchers made a leap forward in helping computers understand natural language, bringing the accuracy to 85%. This would benefit a range of technologies, providing better search results, improving digital personal assistants, and helping businesses more accurately determine what customers are saying about them. The group of researchers plans on open sourcing their findings so that others may use and improve upon it.
This is the stuff jellyfish nightmares are made of. That is if they slept, which they don’t (I guess having a brain is a prerequisite for sleep), but that’s besides the point. Often when a need arises a solution follows, and when the need is jellyfish population control the solution is an automated floating jellyfish shredder. The JEROS (Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm) seeks out unlucky jellies, nets them, and turns on its blades, sucking up the unsuspecting creatures and turning them into minced jelly meat.
This week, Punchkick CTO Ryan Unger spoke at The Mobile Recruiting Conference (MREC) in Atlanta about how to land the best talent through thoughtful product design. His session centered around achieving user happiness by embracing a test driven/user research approach to design. Ryan will leave you with important and actionable takeaways that will help change the typical way we create and deliver experiences.
Hello from Chicago! A special hello to the troopers who stood in line today to get their hands on the new iPhones. You early adopters, you. The day is Friday so we’re bringing you five fresh stories from the last 5 days.
Microryza is a crowd-funding platform for scientific research. Think Kickstarter for tracking Magellanic Penguins, or Indiegogo for studying cannibalism in the T-rex. This article goes into the Microryza platform, their progress so far, and what’s down the pipeline. It’s also Jackson Solway’s first post as part of his Startup Portraits project, where he’ll be interviewing startups in the Bay Area and reporting on their projects.
The discovery of a multidimensional mathematical object named the ‘amplituhedron’ has radically simplified how interactions between particles are measured. Calculations that were previously too complicated for computers to handle can now be done by hand. The implications of this discovery are vast, and this post in Quanta Magazine goes into things we’ve never heard of. Caution: Heavy Science Ahead.
Restaurant site builder happytables has released some very interesting numbers around mobile traffic to restaurant sites. They are eye-openers. On average, 40% of restaurant site traffic is coming from mobile, and this shoots up to over 50% on the weekends. Takeaway? As a restaurant, if you don’t have a mobile site, you could be missing out on business.
Pew Internet and American Life Project have released some data surrounding a study of cell phone activity in 2013. The research shows that 91% of US adults own a cellphone, and that 60% of US adults use their phones to access the internet. A series of graphs show the trends from 2009 until now.
It’s amazing how quickly kids pick up new technologies, but they can also get upset when it changes. iOS 7 was an adjustment to iPhone owners across the board, but just see how these kiddies took the new OS.
Guest post by Brady Johnson; mobile analyst
For the last 10 years, world-renowned designer Stefan Sagmeister has explored the concept of happiness. By recording his own reflections and gleaning from the work of social psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker, Sagmeister has developed a series of mantras that guide him toward higher levels of satisfaction. These maxims inspired an enormous body of work, and are the basis of his latest exhibit, “The Happy Show,” which runs in Chicago until September 23rd.
The concepts introduced here are not of the fluffy, feel-good variety, but rather are deeply rooted in Sagmeister’s life experience. The result is a thoughtful and challenging look at what it means to be happy.
- Having guts always works out for me.
- Trying to look good limits my life.
- Everybody who is honest is interesting.
These are just a few of the phrases, written in the artist’s own hand, that line the walls. “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” says Sagmeister. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.” The designer uses an incredible array of tactics to communicate his message. Infographics (link) highlight the most compelling data from Gilbert and Pinker’s inexhaustible research. With the help of several Chicago designers, Sagmeister spells out “uselessness is gorgeous” across the exhibit’s longest wall. To emphasize the notion, the ephemeral piece is made up of 32,000 rolling papers.
Interactive components offer people a chance to participate in the exhibit. Sagmeister encourages people to submit drawings of their own symbols of happiness. The only rule? No smiley faces. A picture frame suspended in midair invites you to put your face in it and smile. The smile sets off a sensor that lights up a mountain of sugar cubes (because it wouldn’t be a happiness exhibit without a mountain of sugar cubes).
The show maintains the delicate balance between reality and idealism. The very first wall warns “This exhibition will not make you happier.” But after walking through the joyous world of Sagmeister’s careful examination, one gets the sense that happiness is always just around the corner.
What if battery life or plugging into a power source was never a concern for powering a device? The possibilities for utilization are endless. The University of Washington, along with a Google Faculty Research Award and the National Science Foundation’s Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, funded research to develop a wireless communication system that is battery/wire free.
The researchers are calling the new technique “ambient backscatter,” and it works by reflecting already existing TV and cellular transmissions. The researchers are hopeful for possible applications of this technique such as self-sustaining sensor networks, mobile devices, and smart features across a wide variety of areas. The following video gives the details of how this “ambient backscatter” works and could be utilized:
You can find today’s news release here: Wireless Devices Go Battery-Free With New Communication Technique
Less than 10% of today’s automobiles have built-in connectivity platforms. In just a few years, by 2020, Machina Research predicts a huge jump to 90%. The technology research firm focuses on emerging opportunities for connected devices, in this case ‘The Connected Car,’ and partnered with Telefónica Digital to create the recently released study, The Connected Car Industry Report 2013. The report outlines the opportunities and challenges for the automotive and the mobile industries to combine, for example ‘built-in versus brought-in connectivity’ and the debate on how to bring connection to cars.
In February, Punchkick attended the Media Preview for the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, and heard from some of the thought leaders in the automotive industry — many of which were already anticipating some of the predictions discussed in the above industry report regarding connectivity in automobiles. Mobile is the conversation that everyone is trying to get in on, across all verticals and in every realm of day-to-day life. It came as no surprise when auto companies used the Media Preview as a stage to not only introduce new models of cars, but describe innovative new features like smartphone integration.
A general consensus across the industry reflected an increased focus on the consumer, and their relationship with their automobile. In a conversation we had at the Auto Show Media Preview with Henry Bzeih, Chief Technology Strategist at KIA and Head of Connected Car, he talked about how customers love technology based features, but don’t want the big price tag of earlier generations (think OnStar). Fortunately for consumers and manufacturers alike, some of today’s most advanced technology is already held in our hands. There’s no need for extra additions to the car, like embedded modems, with improved wireless connections. Companies like GM have welcomed the ‘eyes free’ trend. VP of Marketing Christi Landy emphasized ‘safe consumer integration’ with the vehicles and are releasing their own navigation application that will keep eyes on the road while receiving driving directions.
The future of putting mobile into auto-mobile is yet to be completely defined, but its importance is known industry wide. Bzeih sees the future of mobile and cars completely integrating, with hopes that device makers consider the automobile when developing their technologies. Enhancing consumer experience through a device that’s actually able to be embedded as part of the vehicle is a wish of his that might not be too hard to grant down the road.
The video below is an edition of Digital Futures discussing The Rise of The Connect Car. It features industry experts from Ford, Machina Research, and Kia’s Henry Bzeih as he again talks about the value of connectivity for consumers and how telcos have a huge opportunity in working with auto companies. Enjoy!
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted a survey in 2012 to measure what exactly American adults are doing with their mobile phones. It comes as no surprise that these numbers haven’t stopped growing since 2010. With the increase in types of mobile devices available to a wider range of consumers, more people than ever are using mobile phones for a variety of day-to-day tasks.
Check out Punchkick’s infographic that breaks down The Pew Research Center’s findings:
College@Home created a list of 50 useful iPhone tips for librarians and researchers, and it actually brought up a few points directly related to mobile marketing…
2. Creating a texting service for patron questions. Giving patrons the option of texting in their questions to the library can make it easy for those who prefer to avoid telephone conversations the ability to get quick and easy answers to simple questions, and if librarians within your library are using iPhones they can respond to questions in between checking in or shelving materials and other tasks.
5. Check how your site looks on an iPhone. Many sites don’t quite translate well to mobile devices like the iPhone. Check how your library’s webpage looks by using an online tool like iPhoney or by checking it yourself on an iPhone.
7. Optimize your site for mobile devices. If you’ve checked out how your site looks on an iPhone and the result is not so great, consider creating a special page for mobile users to access your site. Many libraries are already doing so to maximize the usability of their webpages by patrons.
18. Track requests. You can use your iPhone as an easy way to alert patrons that their requests have arrived whether by phone, email or text and you can record and keep track of these requests as well.
23. Create content that’s easy to browse over an iPhone. If you’ve decided to develop a version of your site that’s more easily compatible with mobile phones, consider scaling it down the the basics. Simple search tools and information will be easiest to browse on the go.