September 07, 2010
Can't Attend? Just Send Your Robot
John Markoff has an interesting article this week on some of the important uses of robots today. He focuses mostly on telepresence robots, which he says will inevitably grow smarter and more agile, not only representing human users, but will augment them.
He gives a few examples of how robotics are advancing, including healthcare and in the workplace. Neurologist Dr. Shatzel was able to treat a patient a couple hundred miles away, using a computer monitor, a keyboard and a joystick that control his assistant on the scene — a robot on wheels.
Mike Beltzner uses the Texai telepresence robot from Willow Garage to attend meetings at Mozilla in Mountain View, except that he is over 2,000 miles away in Toronto. The robot was surrounded by more than 100 young software engineers, each sitting with a wirelessly connected laptop. Markoff also covers the elderly and aging market.
Vgo’s robots are being used in this area today -- execs envision their robots being used by family members to pay visits and offer help to elderly parents, allowing them to remain independent longer. Willow Garage's PR2 robot is also being used for the elderly and Georgia Tech has been making some progress. They're also working on a number of capabilities for people who have physical disabilities. More on their latest here.
July 13, 2010
CBS Smartplanet on RoboticsCBS Smartplanet just produced a really great 3+ minute segment showing Willow Garage's latest developments in robotics as well as a glimpse of the future.
They show what state-of-the-art robot PR2 has accomplished in the past couple of months as well as a glimpse of the future. The video include interviews with both Willow Garage's CEO Steve Cousins and Keenan Wyrobek, Co-Director of the Personal Robotics Program, the very same program that is responsible for giving away 11 PR2 robots to universities worldwide.
July 09, 2010
Pearltrees Hits 2 Million Pearls Within 7 Months of LaunchToday, Pearltrees announces its new beta, Version 0.7.2, which speeds up performance and adds new functionality for users. Social curation at its best, interest in Pearltrees is growing; people have created two million pearls within 7 months of launch.
This impressive number comes only a week after Peartlrees announced $1.6 million in funding, which will be used to accelerate international development and growth.
As of July 2010, the Pearltrees North American user base has surpassed the French Pearltree community, which is where the service was launched last December. Global growth continues at a rate of 30% month-by-month and some organizations have already adopted Pearltrees, showing increased momentum and interest in the service.
This latest beta release, will significantly improve the user experience by increasing the speed and performance of the platform, by as well as adding new ergonomic features such as full screen video viewing, automatic updates of the detailed window and new meaningful animations.
Pearltrees supports all browsers so can be used on both PCs and Macs. Users can also embed pearls or whole Pearltrees’ into a website or blog with a simple button click, making it as easy to embed a Pearltree as it is to embed a YouTube video. Fans, readers and customers of a particular site or blog can discover a series of web pages and explore them in-depth without ever leaving your site. Users are exposed to a complete experience about a topic in one easy-to-navigate window.
Pearltrees transforms the process of discovering, organizing and sharing content people find on the web while enabling bloggers, journalists and other content creators to add a new level of depth and context to the articles they post online.
As Pearltrees expands in the U.S., new use cases of Pearltrees are sprouting up on various interests including food, restaurants, wine, travel, music and politics, to name a few. Below are a few examples of how people are curating content with Pearltrees:
• Check out a Pearltree showing a simulating iPod playlist to for working out
• Here’s a Pearltree for a special gluten free diet
• Find the resources a teacher needs
• Create a Pearltree to curate your favorite clubs in a city
• Build a guide of Buddhism
• Use Pearltrees if you are a label as a creative way to present your artist
• You can use a Pearltree to organize and curate your favorite wine experts
For example, you could create a Pearltree to share five recipes to make your brunch a success or where to find the best barbecue accessories, or even how to organize a whole meal – from wine and starters to main courses and dessert.
Take a look at Marshall Kirkpatrick's post yesterday in ReadWriteWeb and also at a Buddhism Pearltree below.
July 08, 2010
Pop Sci's Robot of the WeekPR2 makes Pop Sci's robot of the week after impressing them and countless others with its ability to zoom off to the fridge, select a beer of your choice and bring it to you. Hats off to the beer hackathon team Willow Garage team!!
July 02, 2010
Zaragoza Spain the Hub for Latest in Robotics This WeekThe 2010 Robotics: Science and Systems Conference is taking place this week at the University of Zaragoza Spain. Research and development leader Willow Garage is there showing off PR2, which TMC News refers to as the most advanced personal robot in the world, PR2 is demonstrating how it can help people with their domestic chores, including folding a pile of clothes, sorting them and storing them.
PR2 is not alone. The presentations at this highly regarded conference are submitted months in advance by researchers working on algorithmic or mathematical foundations of robotics, robotics applications, and analysis of robotic systems. The final program which attendees are participating in this week, highlights the best work of its kind in every category.
300 robotics researchers from 25 countries show up and include companies like Google and Microsoft as well as universities and institutions like NASA. Displayed and demoed this week are robots outfitted with sensors that allow them to see, hear, touch and move, which will make the daily life of humans easier, help people with reduced mobility or perform dangerous tasks.
Another robot - Nao, a 58-centimeter (22-inch) tall creation of French firm Aldebaran Robotics, demonstrated that it could dance like in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, get up from the ground and even tell stories. And, among other demos, Spanish-based Robotnik showed off a highly sophisticated and mobile robot with the ability to deactivate explosives.
June 24, 2010
Pearltrees Raises $1.6 MillionPearltrees, a social web curation tool based in Paris-France, announced that it has raised $1.6 million in funding from European entrepreneurs and business angel investors, to accelerate international development.
Since the launch of the Pearltrees beta version in December 2009 at LeWeb in Paris, the social curation tool has developed a strong community. In order to accelerate the international development of Pearltrees, especially in the US, shareholders of the French start-up raised additional funding, totaling $4.6 million to-date.
Since last December, the growing community has pearled and organized nearly two million web pages. Moving far beyond simple bookmarking, Pearltrees users can select each other's pearltrees as a way to follow the topics they care about. Everyone can now browse pearltrees created by passionate users on various subjects, including food, politics, media, arts, travel, music and countless others.
Pearltrees Version 1.0 will be released later this year. Also refer to VentureBeat on the funding announcement.
June 20, 2010
Bookmarking Obsolete: New Needs & ApproachesMike Elgan's Computerworld post entitled Why Bookmarking is Obsolete brings up several useful and forward thinking points.
He writes about the web's growth since 1991 and says, "even after all these years, the way we find, navigate and save content on the Web works pretty much like it always did. Here's a page with text. Some of the words are hyperlinked, so when you click on them, you open another page. If you want to save something, there's a wide variety of tools that help you do so, but most people use the bookmarking feature built into their browsers, or social bookmarking sites."
The way we discover, find, curate and then access that content for reference later on is changing and needs to change if search and organization of content important to us is going to be truly useful. Enter human curation at its best. Elgan writes about social curation tool Pearltrees, a French-based start-up I consult to.
He explains its differentiation. "If you're a casual Web surfer looking for general content, Google, Bing Yahoo or Wikipedia are probably your best options for finding content. If you care mostly about what your friends think, then Facebook or Twitter or any number of the new social content-sharing tools might satisfy you. But for deep, savvy content, Pearltrees might be the best resource out there. It offers an easy way to find a large number of people who are very passionate about a variety of subjects and who have collected the kind of online content that true aficionados are seeking."
Photo credit: Media Futurist
June 16, 2010
Pearling the Best Food in San FranciscoI've always been a bit of a natural curator in that I love to collect things, save things, organize things, and later access those things for customization and sharing. Curation on the web is always more useful and relevant when it is "human creation" by people you trust. Wouldn't you rather go to a restaurant recommendation from someone you know and trust rather than through a random Yelp rating from someone who may or may not share your taste?
There's the organization aspect: I never got into delicious for example (it's just not for me), nor was I able to get my head around OneNote although I tried and my left brain tech buddy swears by it. I still use alphabetical lists by category and for the most part it works fairly well.
Then there's the human curation of that data into a format that makes sense for you and which may also be useful for others who think like you. Enter Pearltrees, a French company I've been consulting to, which is all about human curation of the web. Every time I play with Pearltrees or see newbies playing with it, I discover new ways the tool can be useful.
For example, during a food bloggers luncheon yesterday, I couldn't put my finger on the name of a San Francisco restaurant and googling what I thought it was or its category or location didn't seem to help. I tried my lists and sadly, it didn't seem to be there either.
And so off I went to Pearl. I had already created a Food Pearltree as well as a San Francisco one, so I decided to do a mashup and then add subcategories in a way that made sense to me. Here's the result of one new Pearltree I created called San Francisco restaurants:
Within the above categories I created, I can get as detailed and granular as I want. For example, take a look at my San Francisco sushi restaurants Pearltree in more details. Over time, I'll add to this Pearltree and perhaps borrow other people's ideas and suggestions for sushi I might like to try.
Rather than share an entire Pearltree of content inside my blog, I could choose to just share one pearl alone. For example, below is a pearl of some of my favorite Italian restaurants in San Francisco.
I'm looking forward to seeing new ways people will use Pearltrees to share things like recipes, recommended hikes, the best boutiques in a particular city, food and wining pairings, and perhaps a Pearltree of restaurants to avoid in Berlin so I can be better prepared before my next trip to Europe. Quality human curation is becoming increasingly important and it's exciting to be part of this Web 3.0 innovation that is moving things further along.
Basketball Players' Moms in Ballpark All Star Moms Contest (using Social Media)This is pretty interesting. Basketball player Chris Paul retweets about his mom's involvement in the Ballpark All Stars Moms Contest using social media to share a few words. Here's a Fotobabble (talking photo) of Robin Paul, his mother sharing a little history about her children growing up and what she cooked.
June 08, 2010
Pearling the Best of D8: All Things Digital ConferenceOne of great things about Pearltrees is the ability to develop a compelling story or series of stories through the pearls you create around an event. There was so much noise and media and blog buzz following the D Conference (D: All Things Digital) last week, that having a series of links just wasn't as useful as gathering all of them into a Pearltree so I could view them later at ease, not to mention in a more visually interesting way.
Below is a Pearltree I created on D8 Blog coverage. And, of course I could have created whatever categories I wanted and displayed them in any way I chose.
Below is a Pearltree I created on D8 Media buzz.
Lastly, I created a Pearltree of the video coverage from the interviews with the D8 speakers.