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    The best home robot (and robot apps development platform)

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    Unbounded Robotics, spun off last year from robotics incubator, Willow Garage, has developed a “mobile manipulation platform” that is truly Jetsonian. It can be trained to unload a dishwasher or get a beverage and other such tasks that involve moving things around. The shiny new UBR-1 stands 4 feet tall and weighs about 160 lbs. It can move around at a speed of about 2.2 miles per hour and has a single flexible arm that can lift up to 3.3 lbs.

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      Parrot’s “flying camera” is the most powerful (consumer) drone in the world

      imagesThe French trace their aviation tradition back to Alberto Santos Dumont who first demonstrated controlled flight. (He famously flew a “dirigible” around the Eiffel Tower in 1901). So, naturally, in the emerging world of commercial drones the most important company in the world is a French one: Parrot. The new Parrot Bebop Drone is a remarkably sophisticated flying camera that streams HD video to your iPad – or an Oculus Rift VR headset, if you happen to own one.

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        Finally, an intelligent air conditioner

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        Invented by an engineer who once worked for the DOE and manufactured by the Quirky + GE partnership, Aros is to home cooling what Nest is to home heating – an appliance that learns your habits, your preferences, your comings and goings.  In so doing it saves you money and keeps you in a perpetual state of cool. It’s controllable with a smartphone app and it’s beautiful.

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          Changing all the rules: A camera like no other

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          Lytro’s revolutionary new camera captures “living pictures” — photographs in which you can change the focus on different subjects in the frame long AFTER you’ve shot them.No longer do you have to worry about making sure a photo is in focus in the moment. You can tinker with the image later on a computer or mobile device, bringing one subject or an entire scene into focus with a tap or a click.

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            Photonics device breakthrough promises Moore’s Law-like ramp for communications

            By Richard Wallace | May 10, 2014

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            Silicon Valley changed the computing world when Intel and other electronics companies  developed semiconductor materials and the photolithography processes to produce progressively smaller, more powerful integrated circuits at successively lower costs, in huge volumes, a phenomena known  as Moore’s Law.

            The results of these manufacturing economies has been the global commoditization of electronics and computing itself, including the proliferation of the PC, inexpensive memory and storage systems, the super computer, mobile phones, and of course the internet.

            Robotics & AI

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              These Harvard construction-bots will scare the hell out of Stephen Hawking

              By Richard Wallace | May 6, 2014

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              While Stephen Hawking sounds the alarm bell on artificial intelligence, warning that the creation of autonomous robots and successful AI “could be the last thing humans ever do, news of  “a new termite-like construction-bot” has surfaced at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. There pesky little builder bots just might give robots – not termites, and not Stephen Hawking- the last word in global survivability.

              Innovation

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                NYC public design challenge seeks new forms of connectivity between urban diverse people, systems

                A city’s vital energy comes from the energy of its inhabitants. This energy is palpable in the public realm, where ideas meet actions and catalytic solutions emerge. Now, in  new challenge Design Trust For Public Space will select “Energetic City” projects that seek to develop new forms of connectivity between the diverse people, systems, and built and natural environment of NYC.

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                  Revolution in miracle materials: smart nano-cone textures, aerographite, structured composites

                  By Richard Wallace | May 5, 2014

                  Earlier we reported that an enterprising researcher figured out how to make graphene “using a kitchen blender.” Graphene is a “miracle material” because it is thin, strong, flexible, conducts electricity, and it is nearly transparent. Its potential applications are practically limitless. Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing graphene.