Monthly Archives: September 2005

Robot Dog Keeps Diary, Takes Pictures

This week Sony unveiled a new version of its canine robot AIBO which, unlike your average puppy, can talk and keep a diary.

The toy pet vaguely resembles a beagle with floppy ears, and cannot walk nor talk when first switched on.

Eventually converses with some 1,000 phrases suited to the “character” it develops as the owner cheers it up and strokes it.

It also keeps a diary using pictures taken with its built-in camera when it is in the right mood. The owner can peek at the diary the following day, reading what comment AIBO made.

It’s robot-pet blogging.

“AIBO owners have sometimes asked us what AIBO is feeling like in certain situations as it was not clear. They will be pleased to have this speaking function,” said Kiyoko Kondo at Sony’s Entertainment Robot Company.

“You would become more emotionally involved,” she added.

Sony starts taking orders Thursday, with a price tag of 194,250 yen (1,720 dollars) in Japan including a five-percent sales tax.

Depending on the character it develops, a playful AIBO will try to come out when enclosed by cardboard while a pampered AIBO will call its owner for help.

The new model is also more like its flesh-and-blood equivalent, scratching its ears with a hind leg, yawning and cooing in response to gentle stroking.

But it also comes with several lives. Owners can skip the maturing process and make AIBO an adult instantly or switch the adult back to a pup to enjoy the growing-up stage.

It was unknown how much the accompanying robot cat would cost. Sony did not comment on whether robot fleas would be included or sold as an add-on.

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USB and Bluetooth: made for each other

It looks like Bluetooth is here to stay — all the new cell phones, cars, and notebooks are supporting the interface. So what to do if you have an older notebook computer, like me? Well, D-Link has a nifty USB Bluetooth adapter, shown to the right. Looks like you can pick it up on the internet for under $30, which is a really good price. USB usually means you plug it up and it works. Gosh, I love USB! Back in the dark ages getting new peripherals meant managing DMA, interrupts, memory. It was a nightmare.

Speaking of tooths, and communications, how would you like a tooth that transmits what you are saying? Researchers believe such a device could help soldiers in noisy places like the battlefield communicate (not to mention us civilians). The device has been tested up to 140Db, which is unbearably loud. It also works with hearing protection and gas masks. The user activates the microphone with his tongue. Neat idea, and it’s going to make cell phone users completely impossible to distinguish from Schizophrenics.

I’m definitely getting the USB adapter. Still thinking about wearing stuff around in my mouth though.

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MAT Backgrounder

I’ve been putting together some background news articles about the MAT, the wisdom of crowds and predictive markets, for reporters who may need to get up to speed. It occured to me that a lot of the readers probably have not seen these news articles, as many of them are only a few days old. It seems like the concepts behind the MAT are gaining speed every day!

It’s an exciting time to be working a product like the MAT. I wish I could say that I read some kind of book or something to get the idea, but I’ve just always believed that in well-formed teams, the group is always more than the sum of the parts.

There are some exciting things ahead for the MAT — we can make a significant difference in a lot of businesses. And it’s going to be a lot of fun, too!

To read more about the principles behind the MAT, you can download this backgrounder PDF file.

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Way Cool New Little Toy

Seems like gadget week here on the blog, but hey — the rule is if I like it, I blog about it.

Here’s a little USB gizmo that plugs into your computer and turns it into a TV! No lie, it’s a TV tuner in a USB format. A German company makes it, and it is expected to cost around E130. Don’t know exactly how many USD that converts to, but it can’t be that much; not for the stuff you get.

Continue reading

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Welcome Reporters!

We’ve just issued our first press release, so if you’re visiting to check out my blog, you can click on the category links on the right to get a lot of articles at once. There is a MAT category for entries regarding the tool.

I used to be a freelance writer, ages ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth, so I know what the reporter job is like. Quite a few times I wrote articles for the Roanoke Times and World News on deadline, and that was always fun. I really enjoyed the magazine work — writing for the Roanoker magazine among others. I even got several thousand bucks once writing an article for a porn magazine! (No. It wasn’t that kind of article. It was an interview with then-hot author and director Clive Barker)

If you need any information, just let me know.

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RFID News

Here’s some of the latest RFID news:

Can RFID help secure America’s ports? Some defense contractors think so.

“The value proposition is still very much inventory management, supply chain efficiency and adaptability,” Lani Fritts, chief operating officer of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Savi Technology says. “But active RFID tags also happen to be tags that can supply some kind of security as well.”

Continue reading

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My Next Phone

Ok, so maybe I’m not getting the new $1.2 million VW, but I got a shot at the new Sprint phone. It’s called the Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device PPC-6700, and it is being billed as “the first converged handheld device in the US with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 software directly from an operator.”

It’s got a fast CPU and fast internet speeds (CDMA EV-DO networks are capable of data speeds up to 2Mbps (megabits per second) but experience has shown average speds of 500kbps (kilobits per second) up to 700kbps in other countries.

There’s a 1.3 Megapixel camera and digital camcorder built in. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. As you can see, it has a nifty little slide-out keyboard, and the whole thing rotates to let the user work in landscape mode. All of the Microsoft Office applications are reproduced on the smart phone.

I think this is a sweet-looking device, and I’m looking forward to playing around with it at the Sprint store when it comes out in a few months. I usually replace mobile phones once every year or two, and so far this one is top of my list for replacements.

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New Volkswagon: 1001HP $1.24 Million

Volkswagon’s latest ride isn’t something the kids are going to be driving off to college, at 1001HP, it has an awesome 16-cylinder engine under the hood. Topping out at over 200MPH — some say over 250 — it is unknown what kind of gas mileage it gets. But at 1.3 Million bucks, if you’re worried about gas mileage you shouldn’t be buying one.

It’s called the “Bugatti”, a name that originated with a company that built high-performance cars from 1910 to 1956.

It’s only a two-seater, and the company announced that it would produce a 4-door version sometime in the future, but who wants one? This is a very cool-looking ride. And super fast. I’d love to see one of these babies in person. Definitely something to take out on the weekend for a little fun.

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Enough is Enough!

What’s got five blades, two lubricating strips, and the blades vibrate while you use them? Nope, not my new lawn mower. It’s Gillett’s latest monstrosity, the Fusion.

Oh come on. What the heck is this about? Where is this going to stop, a 200-bladed, gasoline-powered face blaster that sprays you with motor oil and then cuts each whisker with a laser rifle?

Back in the day, real men only had ONE blade, and they kept a leather strap to keep it sharp. When you shaved, you used a little whisker-thingy and shaving lotion was not a lotion but a powder, which you mixed with whatever you had available. Somebody get you mad while you were shaving? You had ready-made weapon right there, which made for some great scenes in Westerns. Today, your Wi-Fi equipped, micro-bladed, battery-powered facial engineering device is about as dangerous as a tuna fish sandwich.

I wonder how much they will cost?

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