June 17, 2010
PR2 Robots Now Play PoolThe Willow Garage team programmed one of their PR2 robots to play pool and PR2 not only has a blast doing so, but its accuracy seems to be remarkably better than the Willow Garage's engineering team. Go PR2! Go ROS! (an open-source system for robots)
June 09, 2010
James Cameron: Scientist, Creator, Artist & VisionaryI had the fortune of seeing and hearing Canadian-born James Cameron speak at the D: All Things Digital Conference, last week in southern California.
Not only is the man a director, producer, editor, inventor and screenwriter, but an award-winning one who is also known for co-developing the 3-D Fusion Camera System. He says 3-D is on the rise and studios are telling people to make their films in 3-D, not an easy or inexpensive endeavor if you don't have the weight and resources of James Cameron. That said, he brought Avatar to the screen and I thought about its magical impact weeks after seeing it.
Below are some images I captured on-site which are accompanied by some pithy things Cameron had to share with the D8 audience. I loved his energy on and off the stage, where he graciously took questions and engaged one-on-one before heading out.
"There's something to be said about working with people who know the system and how it works."
"Asset management is a huge huge deal."
"I like a certain amount of autonomy in a production so we can go to a number of vendors and it can work seamlessly on other platforms."
"For 3-D, you can put the left and right image on top of each other at the same time - you couldn't do that before."
"Every breakthrough comes with a breakthrough for the pirates. You have to come up with a time synched image and transfer it over - it's harder."
"The more that things change, the more things remain the same."
"Augmented reality is a great bag of tricks but its still something that is on the side."
"Movies are a passive experience. Games are where you lead."
"I want to merge games and movies in a way that support each other."
"At the end of the day, it's still about taking you outside of yourself."
On Microsoft: "They approached us to be part of a 3-D project."
"Studios want to see more films in 3-D. They're asking people for it."
On Avatar being his closest connection of all his movies: "I always liked nature as a child."
"It's still all about the story at the end of the day."
June 08, 2010
Georgia Tech's Plans for their PR2 RobotThere has been a lot of buzz over the past week or so highlighting Willow Garage's PR2 Graduation, where 11 robots will be given away to to 10 universities worldwide, with the 11th going to Bosch. I'll be highlighting them in more detail in the coming weeks and months as things develop at various locations.
One of the recipients -- Georgia Tech in Atlanta -- has an interdisciplinary team in place to research how robots can help older adults live independently at home. As populations of the U.S., Europe, and Japan are all getting older resulting in fewer young people to provide care to seniors, experts are concerned that costs will skyrocket and aging adults will not receive the support they need. Robots may be able to help older adults stay in their homes longer with a higher quality of life, which is Georgia Tech's goal through their work with the PR2 they received from Willow Garage this past week.
The team plans to work with older adults to better understand their needs and how robots can help in the short and long term. By working closely with seniors throughout the research process, the team hopes to better meet real needs and accelerate progress.
To make everything more realistic, the robot will spend some of its time in a real, two-story house on the Georgia Tech campus, called the Aware Home. This will enable older adults to work with the robot in a convincing environment, and will give the software developers a good place to test their code.
The School of Psychology's Human Factors and Aging Laboratory will be leading the human-robot interaction research part of the project. Their experience researching technology for older adults, including a recent survey on how older adults would like to use robots, will prove to be extremely useful as the project moves forward.
June 07, 2010
Have We Discovered Evidence for Life on Titan?I met Carolyn Porco, Cassini's Imaging Team Leader at a PopTech several years ago. She is also the Director of CICLOPS/Space Science Institute based in Boulder, CO.
I've always been fascinated by Carolyn's work for two reasons: it's innovation at its best and is changing the world and how we look at the world AND because her orientation is so incredibly different from my own.
I just received an update on what they've been up to. In the last couple of days, the recent Cassini news of a depletion of atmospheric hydrogen in the near-surface environment on Titan -- has caused a firestorm on the web, on Twitter, and elsewhere. She notes that headlines went blaring "Nasa scientists discover evidence that alien life exists on Saturn's moon", and it spread like wild flames.
She writes, "this was the unfortunate result of a knee-jerk rush to sensationalize an exciting but rather complex, nuanced and emotionally-charged issue." In an attempt to press the `reset' button, she has invited Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, to comment on the recent Cassini discoveries, and they have posted his expert commentary on the CICLOPS website. In his commentary, he discusses his assessment of the existence of life on Titan.
They have also added a new feature to their website called 'Making Sense of the News', where scientists, both involved in Cassini and not, will be invited to comment on new developments that bear on the exploration of the solar system and the study of planetary systems, including our own.
May 28, 2010
Wall Street Journal (Digits) - It's Graduation Season for Robots tooLauren Goode reports on the Willow Garage PR2 graduation ceremony and celebration this past week in Menlo Park, CA.
KGO News on Robots GraduationABC's KGO Channel 7 News covered the news of Willow Garage's robot graduation and party this week.
May 27, 2010
First Robots Graduation in HistoryWillow Garage hosted the first robots graduation in history last night in their Menlo Park offices on Willow Road, the same road where Google was birthed.
CEO Steve Cousins and founder Scott Hassan gave an emotional speech about how Willow Garage got started, the vision behind it and everything that led up to this historical moment.
Hundreds of people gathered together for the celebration: friends, fans, employees, a couple of local mayors, press, bloggers and universities. Among the university attendees were the 11 recipients of the PR2 beta program, who flew in from around the world to get trained on their robots this week and to celebrate the honor.
Together with the visionaries at Willow Garage and the Directors of the Personal Robotics Program Keenan Wryobek and Eric Berger, the recipients will work hard in the coming two years to accelerate the growth of robotics research and development and yes, change the world.
Below, Keenan and Eric thanked the open source community, the recipients, other Willow Garagers and of course, the PR2 robots. As the winners were announced, the PR2s decided it was time for them to celebrate too, with a little flag waving and dance for the crowd. I think they were starting to realize that they now have fans.
Later on, the PR2s danced with the attendees and zipped around the floor to show off their abilities. And why not, last night was about celebration and giving thanks to a community who accomplished this great achievement. As Scott so rightfully put it at the beginning of the event - "we can't do it alone, we don't want to do it alone." With more effort, resources, passion and talent behind robotics, advancement can happen that much faster.
A few shots of the event, the speeches, the party and the dancing below. A thumbs up to ROS and the efforts of the Willow Garage team and recipients who are going to work together to make magical things happen in the next two years.
Eric Berger demonstrates PR2 in front of a group of bloggers and press
Eric Berger, Scott Hassan, Steve Cousins and Keenan Wyrobek
The Singularity Hub guys Keith Kleiner and Aaron Saenz
Googlers and friends showed up to celebrate
Yes, that's John Markoff in the Texai robot
The PR2 robot graduation ceremony, the first in history
Steve Cousins and Scott Hassan
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
PR2 claps as his audience claps for him
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
Jonathan Knowles, Renee Blodgett
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
Kamal Shah and Janet Rae Dupree
The deserving 11 recipients are:
• Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
• Georgia Institute of Technology
• Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
• MIT CSAIL
• Stanford University
• Technische Universität München
• University of California, Berkeley
• University of Pennsylvania, GRASP Laboratory
• University of Southern California
• University of Tokyo, JSK Robotics Laboratory
May 27, 2010 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Social Gigs & Parties, Videos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 24, 2010
Visual Bookmarking & Curation
Pearling those bookmarks is a helluva lot more fun.
May 20, 2010
Google IO: 5,000 Developers & Geek Toys Under One RoofLast night, thousands of people gathered to see the latest and greatest apps at the Google Developer Conference (Google IO) in San Francisco. As the day turned into night, the lights of the Moscone West Hall were lowered, purple and blue lights spanned the ceilings and music videos played on a massive overhead screen.
The two previous days featured 80 sessions of deep technical content featuring Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, GWT, App Engine, open web technologies, and more. The event attracted more than 5,000 developers who showed up to present 100 showcasing their technologies. Al Seckel, the illusion genius was also there doing demonstrations.
While they do include their Twitter hashtag on the front page of their website, I had to ask 9 people on-site before I could find out what it. The previous 8 had no idea what a hashtag was -- a hash what? asked a thirty something video producer who was walking the floor. Another said, I'm a coder, why would I care about Twitter? The official hastag btw was apparently #io2010 although many were using #googleio, including myself.
Below are a few shots I took of the show floor, which included the intriguing and fun heavy pedal cyclecide bike rodeo, which you can try at the Maker Faire event this weekend in San Mateo if you're in the Bay Area.
Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro with a PR2 robot
May 20, 2010 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Events, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Social Gigs & Parties, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Maker Faire This Weekend in San MateoThe Maker Faire event is being held in San Mateo, CA this weekend; tickets are still available online.
Maker Faire is an event that pulls together a community of Makers who share their projects and skills. MAKE is what-you-MAKE-it. It's a growing DIY movement of people who look at things a little differently and who just might spark the next generation of scientists, engineers and makers.