Weekly Recap: RoBoHoN, Bipedal Bot, Keyless Keyboard, Flyboard Air, etc.



RoBoHoN, the world’s first and cutest robot telephone, will be available in Japan as of next month. This 20-cm high robot created by Sharp works as a personal assistant as well as a phone. Thanks to its facial recognition technology, it recognizes its owner and greets them (with a bow). A projector tucked away in its head beams images on to flat surfaces. It’ll set you back by 198,000 yen, or some CA$2,320.

Sharp, “RoBoHoN.”

Kyodo News, “ロボット携帯は21万円 シャープ、5月発売.”

The Guardian, “World’s cutest smartphone robot can be yours for a hefty price tag.”

Bipedal Bots

Schaft, a Japanese company acquired by Google’s Alphabet in 2013, released a very impressive biped robot in Tokyo. Unlike Boston Dynamics’ military robots, this robot is designed for civilian applications. The robot’s low centre of gravity seems to help it with its balance when moving. It can carry 60-kg loads.

MIT Technology Review, “An impressive walking Google robot tries to vacuum the stairs.”

Keyless Keyboards

 MacBook keyboard without keys

[Illustration Digital Trends.]

An Apple patent application reveals that Apple engineers are working on replacing the Mac Book’s keyboard by a large touchpad that reproduces keys on a backlit microperforated slab. This solution opens the door to endless configuration possibilities; however, not all Apple patents lead to commercialized products.

Mashable, “Apple filed a patent for a MacBook keyboard without keys.”

Canny Canines

Madrid’s Saatchi & Saatchi has developed a system to allow Fido to manage his own social presence on the Internet. An accelerometer attached to Fido’s tail triggers a camera placed on his back right when he’s having a good time. Photos are automatically posted on social networks through a WiFi connection. The system does not work for cats; it would seem they don’t do fun.

Petapixel, “This vest lets your dog take and post photos to facebook all by itself.”

Faster, Higher, Stronger Boards

Franky Zapata, former Jet Ski champion and father of the water-propulsed Flyboard, unveiled a prototype of the Flyboard Air. The board flies through the air at up to 150 km/h (93.2 mph) for a maximum of ten minutes. No technical details are available.

Digital Trends, “Flyboard Air is the hoverboard you’ve been waiting for, and it’s terrifying.”

Smart Sprinklers

Fire sprinklers can soak a building, causing incidental damage. London-based startup Plumis has come up with a solution: when its Automist Smartscan heat sensor detects a blaze, a jet releases a burst of targeted high-pressure mist, using 90 per cent less water than traditional sprinklers. The vertical blade of water can cover 32 square metres at a rate of 5.6 litres per minute.

Wired UK, “This smart sprinkler system stops fires without soaking homes.”


Other links of the week: