Archives for category: robots


As our rate of multitasking increases, we may as well embrace the age of interactive robots in our home. Crowd-funded JIBO by Cynthia Breazeal is a personal robot with a variety of functions. According to the website, JIBO can see, hear, learn, help, speak and relate. It is a personalized robot that can take orders, tell interactive stories, make video calls, and sense social and emotional cues to respond appropriately to its user. As you walk around a room, it has enabled face recognition and responds to you appropriately. While we have seen components of these in other devices, JIBO is more of a polished home companion that can interact both with other devices and humans.

Available at the end of 2015, can be pre-ordered for $499.

See the promotional video below:

photo source

The future of healthcare includes robotics devices which mimic living tissue and may help to target and perform functions with superior accuracy and efficiency of drugs. A 2014 study by Cvetkovic et al. presented the first engineered skeletal muscle machine which moved unattached to any other device. These small soft robotic devices were able to contract and crawl on their own, mimicking the function of skeletal muscle tissue. The shell of the machine is made from hydrogel to encase the tissue. Meanwhile, engineered muscle building cell tissue, along with proteins such as collagen or fibrin were printed on 3D printer and encased in this shell to make the tissue functional.

The many systems that need to be coordinated for muscle contraction are difficult enough to just understand, but to be able to engineer something that mimics the function is amazing. For muscle tissue to contract and produce force requires an intense network of neural input and coordination of responsive tissue. There must be enough elasticity in the muscle to produce the force; ultimately the change in length and contraction of muscle tissue produces the force for movement. The tissue must be slightly stretched at all times for potential contraction; but not so far that it loses the ability to contract. This all occurs with electrical cues which send signals to the muscle tissue for contraction.

The future of these small biological machines has many implications, as the article explains. Future uses include drug screening, drug delivery, medical implants, and biomimetic machines.

See the video below for demonstration:


Most emergency medical training involves lifeless torsos, videos, and noninvasive simulated work on a live partner in which you haphazardly  practice what you would actually have to do in an emergency situation. From my personal experience of many CPR classes as well as a course of emergency medical training, I can attest none of this prepares you very well for what you would actually have to act out in a life threatening situation. No, you can never fully prepare for having to rescue someone, but what gives you the confidence to do it is practicing something similar prior to having to act on the spot.

Kernerworks has developed a realistic robotic mannequin that breathes, bleeds, and responds to procedures to give feedback if they have been performed correctly.This company in San Rafael, CA includes a team of former special effects artists that used to work for film studios. The mannequins were molded from real people, given realistic features, and have an internal computer system that includes sensors which respond to procedures.

Used for military training for trauma response, one of the products is a double amputee mannequin which allows trainees to practice relieving pnueumothorax with a needle (sensors respond if done correctly). One of the features is also a well developed throat which features air differential sensors. Medics can practice placing a laryngoscope into the throat which has a camera so you can see the placement of a tube for breathing. An endotracheal tube can be placed in the throat for use of an Ambu bag, if done correctly this shows the chest rising. If it is done incorrectly and the tube is accidentally placed into the esophagus, the chest will not rise. Unlike most practice torsos, these are sensors responding to these procedures, which are much more precise. Watch the video above for a tour Tested shared which explains more about the company and the incredible work behind the mannequins.


It was only a matter of time before our machines became not only a functional, but emotional part of our lives. As devices become more and more personalized, we are drawn toward them in a way that we are drawn toward the people in our lives. “It knows me,” this personalization seems to say. And as these devices become more personalized with recognition features, where do we draw the line between functional robotics and love? After all, don’t robotics exist to fill a gap in life or make it more efficient? And aren’t humans sometimes unpredictable and unreliable, unlike our machines?

The Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Technology Laboratory (AIART) in Tawain has been developing a lovotics robot to further explore the human to robot relationship. Involved in this development is the understand of the physiology behind love, which of course is a complex combination of factors including hormones, affect and emotion. According to their website, the artificial intelligence in the lovotics lab mimics the different human systems involved in love and includes the development of an Artificial Endocrine System (physiology), Probabilistic Love Assembly (psychology), and the Affective State Transition (emotions).

The lab has worked on mimicking a myriad of human hormones, evaluating gestures and expressions. The psychological unit has looked into numerous parameters such as proximity, similarity, attachment, attraction, and reciprocal liking, among others. The robot not only enables these human components, but adjusts them based on input and feedback. Amazing, is love as mysterious as we like to think or a controllable environment of many components? This opens the window to questions of our future, will relationships as we know them change? See the video below.

And a video with more explanation:

Knightscope is Silicon Valley based company that has been developing a personal security robot for use in the streets, schools, and other public areas. The five foot surveillance camera includes facial recognition, a laser imaging sensor that can map a 3D area, and thermal imaging among other capabilities. After public tragedies occur, we often wish there was something to predict and recognize that something was amiss. Some of the many limitations of human security is our field of vision, inability to see through crowds, and sleep cycles. A machine that can crowd source for security and raise flags that the human eye cannot detect may help small and large scale tragedies from occurring.

A mock control center displays some of the capabilities that this 500 lb robot has:

These machines are not for sale yet, and will be tested at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.