JIBO – personal robot to help out at home

Category: Design, Industrial design, Interactive

 

I hope 2015 is going to be the year of personal robots. This is something to look forward to! Personally I’m already tired of this year being ’the year of the smart watch’ although Apple haven’t even announced theirs.

Personal robots at this stage seem to be more like a smartphone with a personified physical presence and seem to build on refined voice- and face recognition technology. It is the ultimate interactive ‘hands free’ experience and if it’s done well it can make life easier.

As usual, Kickstarter and Indigogo is the platform for this sort of innovation, since big technology brands are still more interested in selling outdated technology. We seen initiatives popping up like the Romo which is basically an interactive iPhone app on wheels for kids, and the high-end Pepper, a child sized robot that can recognise human emotions.

Today, we arrived to a nice middle ground with Jibo, ’the family robot’. The first initiative I could see going mainstream through it’s accessibility, open platform and straight-forward features. The designer robotics expert / super-cool person Cynthia Breazeal also managed to make it insanely cute! Kind of reminds me of a simplified version of EVE from Pixar’s WALL-E.

Jibo can see through two high-res cameras, track faces, capture photos and has an immersive video calling feature that takes the concept to the next level. Jimbo can hear everything. It’s sensitive microphones can pick up and process speech, wherever you are in the room. Jibo speaks to you, reads messages, notifications, works like a personal assistant managing your day. It’s artificial intelligence is able to adapt and learn, it communicates with social and emotive cues. Jibo seems likeable through it’s appearance and ‘personality’. Watch the video above to see how it works! I quite like the smart, flexibly moving structure and the expressive eye feature.

Working on a Linux based platform open to developers the potential there is huge. At a later stage it might connect to your home systems to adjust light, sound or control the temperature. It is already impressive how handy it is in everyday situations like ordering your groceries or takeaway food, read up a recipe while you are cooking, take great photos or look up the answer to your questions online.

Jibo is on pre-order for $499 and arrives by the end of 2015. The public release will be early 2016. I look forward to revisit where it has evolved by then. The future is here!

Kyle Glass
Images: http://www.myjibo.com/

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Google’s Street Art Project

Category: Fine Arts, Interactive, Web Design

Last year I was fortunate enough to interview Shepard Fairey for our Frontier magazine focusing on Santa Fe. He was at SFUAD, one of our supporting universities, undertaking a collaborative art project. Since then, my interest in his work and that of many street artists has been piqued and this new website by Google allows me to delve into this even deeper.

Google’s new Street Art Project is a partner to it’s existing Art Project which aims to give access to influential art objects, historical artifacts and world wonders to a wider audience. Run by the Google Cultural Institute in France, the Art Project aims to democratise art. It seems fitting then for Google to enter into the world of street art which by default brings art to everyone. Much like the Art Project, the Street Art Project utilizes gallery archives, Google’s own street view, Google maps, and user generated content to provide a map of the worlds street art. Allowing viewers to zoom into details of the work, providing glimpses of work that has since been destroyed and showcasing pieces in locations many of us will never get to are just some of the features this incredible initiative hosts. Street Art is generally considered the ugly brother to that of the gallery world, bar the few exemptions of Banksy and Fairey, but here, the scope and detail of this project is given as much emphasis and importance as it’s older brother. With Amit Sood, director of the Cultural Institute initiative commenting, “Im not treating street art as anything different from what I would do with the Impressionist collection I’m getting on Art Project”, it’s clear to see that the intention of this site is to lift this often neglected art form to it’s rightful place. Personally, I find it incredible that this is even questioned – shouldn’t this should be the acceptable norm by now?

The best thing about this site though is that it’s fun! Seriously fun. I thoroughly enjoyed checking out street art in Oman, a place I’ve wanted to travel to for years but have never quite got there. How great that I can now do this, and more to the point, that once the artwork is painted over by some bored government official, we’ll still be able to view it as it was.

Click here to check it out. Definitely worth your time.

Logan Bradley 

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Chase zombies with Google’s Project Tango

Category: Game Development, Gaming, Interactive

The best way to test and explore some new technologies is through games. This time we look at Google’s Project Tango and how it’s utilized in the context of gaming.

In short, Project Tango gives mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion. Tango capable mobile devices contain customized hardware and software designed to track the full-range 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These special sensors process a wealth of data that updates position and orientation in real-time, creating a 3D model of the space around you.

There is plenty of ways this technology can be utilised. NASA for example is already testing it to map space stations in zero gravity conditions. But hey, how much more fun it is to use real-time sensory mapping to chase down and kill hoards of zombies?!

That’s exactly what you do with the Google Tango based game Zombie Gunship Reality. This new Android game from Limbic Software turns your Android device into a huge gunship. Moving around with the device you track down armies of zombies and basically shoot them to pieces from the air. If you check out the video above, it looks like loads of fun and you are getting a good exercise at the same time!

Google Tango is exploring new frontiers here and I am excited to see how they use the lessons they learn from gaming as they take this technology to the next level.

Kyle Glass

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Mortal Kombat X trailer — blood and bones

Category: 3D Animation, Game Development, Gaming, Interactive

Fire, ice, x-ray closeups of rupturing organs and breaking bones in the brand new trailer for the 10th Mortal Kombat game coming next year. This brutally cool trailer brings you Sub-Zero and Scorpion fighting to the death and I can see it causing a lot of excitement in the gaming scene. The game will be coming to the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2015.

The new instalment of the iconic cross-generational title is promising a cinematic experience and an all new gameplay with an online component. Check out this beautifully rendered trailer, but be aware — it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Kyle Glass

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IRIS—a spatial ocean dynamo

Category: Architecture, Environment, Environmental, Installation

IRIS is a project by Najjar & Najjar architects. The Lebanese-born brothers Karim and Rames Najjar established their architectural practice in Vienna in 1999 and now have additional studios in Stuttgart and Beirut. Both brothers share a deep interest and respect for the sea and the natural forces in our environment, being avid sailors and hikers. This passion has carried over into their work with a special focus on maritime projects, which include bridges, cultural and research centers, and they have even designed several yachts!

IRIS is a concept that aims to give ownership of the coastal land back to the community of locals and fishermen, in a place where luxury private developments have been eclipsing public spaces. The strange, somewhat disconcerting structures are a result of the architects’ many experiments with kinematic constructions. Reminiscent of the eerie invading tripods from War of the Worlds, these structures also brought up memories of standing under one of Louise Bourgeois’ looming Maman spiders in Tokyo. However, despite the strange appearance, IRIS has a benevolent function—to provide easy access to the sea and generate electricity for the local populace. A buoy, floating off the coast, is connected to the structures by an extended antenna. This guides the IRIS’ ‘eyelids’ to open and close with the motion of the sea, whilst generating power via an electric generator and channeling it to the local residencies.

In addition to this energy-harvesting function, IRIS also provides secluded spots for contemplation and unobscured views of the sea in amongst its wooden lids. I admire the poetic concept behind this work, but I do wonder how effectively it would function if built in full-scale. Those shifting lids would make me feel a little nervous if I was tucked away on one of the viewing seats! Still, I do hope these materialize in real life. Find more interesting structures at Najjar & Najjar architects’ website.

Anna Tokareva

Photography: Ieva Saudargaitė

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