tech e blog

Amazon Alexa Skull

Amazon Echo is great for simple tasks, but one man has transformed it into "Yorick", something worthy of a haunted house or horror movie. That's right, Mike McGurrin has managed to make Alexa talk in sync with a skull prop, and it's powered by Raspberry Pi running AlexaPi software. "I like to decorate for Halloween, including various talking skeletons that I've set up over the years. For Christmas 2015, my wife gave me a great 3 axis talking skull with moving eyes so I could upgrade one of the skeletons from just a moving jaw skull. Then a friend suggested that there had to be other applications for the rest of the year. This got me thinking, and when I saw the Alexa Billy Bass I knew what I had to do, and the Yorick project was born. I'm pretty happy with the result," said McGurrin. Continue reading for another video, pictures and information.

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Forpheus Ping Pong Robot

Guinness World Records has recognized Forpheus as the "first robot table tennis tutor". The machine, which holds a ping pong paddle, can not only play against a human, but teach them as well. How? It taps artificial intelligence to determine the ability of its opponent, while using two vision sensors to keep a robotic eye on the ball, as well as a movement sensor that focuses on the human player's movement. Cameras located over the table keep track of the ball's position at a staggering rate of 80-times per second.Continue reading for another video and more information.

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Handle Robot

Boston Dynamics' "Handle" is essentially a research robot that stands 6.5-feet tall, and can travels at speeds up 9mph as well as jumping 4​ -feet vertically into the air. Electric power is used to operate both electric / hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on a full charge. "​​​Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles​ found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds," according to the company. Click here to view the first image in today's viral picture gallery. Continue reading for the five most popular viral videos today, including one of an indestructible drone.

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3D-Printed T800

Programmer Alexander Osipovich from Russia has always been a fan of "The Terminator" series, and decided to create a real-life version of the T-800. It all began when he started work on a program while in college, but little did he know that this would eventually become the brain of his exoskeleton. The next 2-years were spent developing multiple versions in Visual Basic, and in 2011, Google just happened to be promoting DIY projects. So, they sent him a detailed schematic for 3D-printing the T-800, complete with the exact positioning of the actuators that would power its movements. Continue reading for another video, more pictures and information.

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Paper Airplane LEGO Robot

It's no drone, but this custom LEGO robot is designed for something much cooler...folding and launching paper airplanes automatically. Arthur Sacek, a LEGO enthusiast and designer, used the colorful bricks to create a machine that could not only fold the planes, but launch them automatically as well. That's right, once folded, the machine shoots it down a 'runway' directly into flight. LEGO Mindstorms computers were used to precisely calculate the folds and just how quickly the airplane is folded. Continue reading for another behind-the-scenes video, more pictures and information. Click here for a few bonus custom LEGO creations.

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Cassie Robot

Cassie the robot may be missing a torso, but it does have a 3-degrees-of-freedom hip, similar to humans, enabling it to move forwards, backwards, side to side, and rotate as well. Its powered ankles also allow it to stand in place or squat without having to constantly move its feet. An integrated battery power system keeps the on-board computers running smoothly. "This technology will simply explode at some point, when we create vehicles so automated and robots so efficient that deliveries and shipments are almost free. Quite simply, robots with legs can go a lot of places that wheels cannot. this will be the key to deliveries that can be made 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by a fleet of autonomous vans that pull up to your curb, and an onboard robot that delivers to your doorstep," said Jonathan Hurst, associate professor of robotics at the OSU College of Engineering, and chief technology officer at Agility Robotics. Click here for the first image in this week's things that look like other things gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of a family who decided to live in a converted school bus.

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Odini Security Sphere

Need a home security system, and love BB-8? Meet Odini. This futuristic security sphere is essentially a discreet mobile solution that aims to provide privacy when you're home while monitoring and recording events when away. It movies around autonomously to ensure all rooms are secure, driven by four independent touch points between the main camera and its clear outer shell. The robot lets you know how it feels through an array of facial expressions - like looking tired when its battery is low. Continue reading for more pictures.

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Caltech Robot Bat
Caltech Bat Robot

Researchers at CalTech have developed a "Bat Robot" that boasts 40 active and passive joints, enabling it to fly just like the real thing. "[It] demonstrates one of the most advanced designs to date of a self-contained flapping-winged aerial robot with bat morphology that is able to perform autonomous flight," said Alireza Ramezani, postdoctoral associate at UIUC. This bot can dynamically alter its wing shape by flexing, twisting, extending its shoulder, elbow, wrist and leg joints. Continue reading for another video and more information.

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Boston Dynamics Handle Robot

Google-owned Boston Dynamics has a new robot that has yet to be officially unveiled, but a leaked video shows that it's definitely "nightmare-inducing". No technical specifications have been revealed, but as you can see, it rides around upright on two wheels, spins quickly on its axis, and is capable of leaping over obstacles and landing perfectly. "[It's an] experiment in combining wheels with legs, with a very dynamic system that is balancing itself all the time and has a lot of knowledge of how to throw its weight around," said company founder Marc Raibert. Click here to view the first image in today's viral picture gallery. Continue reading for the five most popular viral videos today, including one of Adam Savage's custom NERF rifle.

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MIT Transparent Gel Robot

MIT engineers have created transparent, gel-based robots that move when water is pumped in and out, enabling them to perform a number of fast, forceful tasks, including kicking a ball underwater, as well as grabbing and releasing live fish. They're made entirely from hydrogel, which is a rubbery, nearly transparent material composed mostly of water, and each one is an assemblage of hollow, precisely designed structures, connected to rubbery tubes. When water is pumped into them, the structures quickly inflate in orientations that enable the bots to curl up or stretch out. Since the robots are both powered by and made almost entirely of water, they have similar visual and acoustic properties to water, making them virtually invisible. Click here to view the first image in this week's funny demotivational posters gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of a rare lava fire hose.

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