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Call yourself an artist? Well, you're about to be replaced by a newer, robot model. This is SketRobo, the "sketch master" robot on show at IFA 2012 from Tosy Robotics.

Aimed as an interactive "art teacher" toy for kids, it can use its little robot arms to draw basically anything you ask it to.

Though we saw only a prototype model hooked up to a PC, the finished product (due out in time for Christmas) will feature an onboard LCD control panel, a full software suite and the ability to recognise motion and human faces, and capture true-to-life portraits as a result.

The idea is that it'll teach kids how to draw, but we give roughly twenty minutes come Christmas morning before someone programs it draw soon boobs.

Check it out in the video above, sans boobies.

Click here for more news straight from the IFA 2012 technology show

Mohoro robot photo.jpgMahoro is a new, 8 foot robot in Japan that currently handles 'dangerous' lab work. The robot is able to complete many tasks, which takes years of training for most people, much quicker and more precise than any technician would be able to.

Its 7 joint arm differs from the standard 6 or less jointed robots made in factories, and Tohru Natsume, the team leader of biological systems control team at AIST claims this improves the flexibility of the arm by allowing more elbow movement. Additionally, Tohru insists that this work is very hazardous, and so it should be done by robots.

When Mahoro's work was compared with professional lab technicians, Mahoro was considerably more precise and only consumed half the time. Many people believe creating a robot of this level requires a ton of advanced programming, but developers ensure it can be developed on a computer using minimal programming.

Tohru also claims that Mahoro can be "taught easily". Using a 3D scanner, developers at AIST and Yaskawa are able to create a virtual bench and a virtual robot which allows them to simply click and record commands which the robot will carry out.

Mahoro robots are used in labs at pharmaceutical companies and universities all across the world, supplied by Nikkyo Technos and experts expect a collaboration of people and robots is likely to begin within the next decade.

However, until Mohoro's safety is improved, its likelihood of working alongside technicians is rare.

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I woke up today feeling a little down. There was some gap in my life, nay, a hole in the world that needed filling for the good of mankind. Something, some goal that civilisation, mankind collected, hadn't achieved yet.

I couldn't put my finger on it until I saw the above video. And then the "Eureka" moment; we had yet to perfect robotic arses.

Thank the heavens then for Nobuhiro Takahashi and the University of Electro-Communications, whose Shiri robot is making up for years of stagnation in the cyborg-arse development field.

Described as a "buttocks humanoid that represents emotions with visual and tactual transformation of the muscles," Shiri uses a complex system of electronics, sensors and pressure sensitive pistons to express the "various emotions with organic movement of the artificial muscles".

Amazing. Not sure whether to tag this video as "NSFW" or not; the guy demoing Shiri seems to be enjoying his job maybe a little too much...

Via: Gizmodo Japan

bionic-hand-boy.jpgThe Formula One Mercedes GP Petronas team have helped a British teenager improve his quality of life by helping him grab an expensive bionic arm from Touch Bionics.

14-year-old Matthew James was born without a left hand, and had been using a crude bionic arm which he described as "like a claw", which only allowed for simple gripping techniques.

He'd been dreaming of having an i-Limb Pulse from Touch Bionics fitted, a far more advanced arm and hand combo that allowed for individual finger movements. However, priced at £30,000 and unavailable through the NHS, the teen seemed out of luck.

That was until he came up with the ingenious plan of approaching the Mercedes team for funding, in exchange for advertising space on the side of his futuristic limb.

While Mercedes declined the advertising offer, they did manage to broker a deal for £25,000 off the price of the arm for Matthew by offering an exhcange of technologies between themselves and Touch Bionics. Mercedes are also helping raise the final £5,000 needed.

A great feel good story, with a sci-fi happy ending.

Well almost; Matthew one regret:

"Unfortunately there's one downside to it, I'm having to do more chores," he said.

Via: BBC

We're not sure what's more creepy here; the concept of a hug-simulating robot mannequin or researcher Nobuhiro Takahashi, who demonstrates the unit a little too enthusiatically in the video above.

Called the Sense-roid, a user hugs the mannequin while wearing a specially designed vest that houses a series of air pressure valves. The mannequin has sensors which send information to the vest, which increases and decreases the pressure in the air valves to simulate the feeling of a good old hug.

Takahashi is no stranger to weird simulators; he's also the brains behind a mad kissing simulator too.

"When people frist try out Sense-Roid, they think it's creepy," said researcher Nobuhiro Takahashi. "But gradually, they start feeling safe and secure."

Why anyone would feel safe and secure in a vest taht looks more dangerous than a particularly clingy boa constrictor, I can't begin to imagine. One for the loneliest of lonely hearts only, we'd say.

Via: Kotaku

Futur Fusion helix.jpgWe're suckers for robots, cyborgs and visions of the future here at Tech Digest, so we jumped at the chance to get a closer look at the new Futur Fusion exhibition taking place in London's Covent Garden area. A showcase of sculpture, illustration and photography, the exhibition explores issues surrounding nanotechnology, bio-technology and sustainability, with a healthy dose of sci-fi chic thrown in for good measure.

Collecting work from illustrator Sebastian Clark, photographer Stephane Grand and sculptor Dominic Elvin (whose previous work includes the world famous design of Camden's Cyberdog store) it's a vibrant, futuristic exhibition galaxies apart from the sort of work you'd find in the Tate Britain.

"I'm obsessed with frontier science," enthused Elvin, "so I try to incorporate its ideas into my work."

"Isaac Asimov (pioneering sci-fi author - Ed.) was my original inspiration though, going back to when I was 12 or 13. My father gave me the Asimov "Foundation" books, and they transported me to this incredible world, filling me with ideas that never left my mind."

As much as the exhibition revels in visions of the future, the artists exhibiting also have one eye firmly fixed on the present. Specifically, Futur Fusion also looks at the way we're still failing to take green issues seriously.

As a result, much of Elvin's work uses recycled and reclaimed materials, the percentage of which in each work he proudly presents alongside his pieces.

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"We're trying to show people that recycled art pieces don't have to be old washing machines looking like clunky robots, it can be really polished and cool. It's also about seeing materials in a different way - rubbish doesn't always have to be landfill waste," said Elvin.

Likewise, photographer Stephane Grand's work often acts to highlight the wasteful, destructive nature of consumerism, with a playful installation called "Mr Splatz" mimicking a chalk-line crime scene with garbage materials.

Despite the serious issues explored, the Futur Fusion team still exude playful enthusiasm for the works on show, keen to stress that the exhibit is fun and suitable for the whole family.

"Yesterday we had a big group of fifty kids with their teachers come in. They went crazy, you'd have thought they were at Disney Land! The teachers were really positive too as they're increasingly teaching about sustainability in lessons," said Elvin.

"For me that sort of response is fantastic, because they're exactly the people we're doing this for. They're the next generation, and they're going to have to pick up the shit left by this generation."

The exhibition kicked off on June 13th and runs until Saturday 18th June 2011. The Futur Fusion collection can be found at I.N.C Space, 9-13 Grape Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 8ED and is open to the public, free of charge, from 9am to 7pm.

For more info on the event, visit www.facebook.com/futurfusion. Alternatively, send the Futur Fusion team a message via Twitter by using the #FuturFusion hashtag.

robocop-thumb.jpgDetroit, the setting for the cult sci-fi flick Robocop, could soon be getting a larger-than-life statue in honour of the movie's cyborg bobby.

An intiative to help drive tourism into Detroit, the idea was initially turned down by Detroit's Mayor Dave Bing as the film depicts a dystopian, derelict Detroit. But following a fundrasing drive by artist Jerry Paffendorf that has raised over $50,000 dollars, Motor City may now be getting a statue thta will "protect the innocent, serve the public trust" and uphold the awesome to riff a little on Robocop's kick-ass catch phrase.

"This could be a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar KickStarter, it's remarkable", said Paffendorf in reference to the online fundraising hub. "With all of this publicity, we have a big opportunity to extend this to other projects in Detroit."

If the plan comes to fruition, the fundraisers hope to make the statue from a variery of materials, with the piece eventually residing either at Comerica Park or the Imagination Station art project near the abandoned Michigan Central Station.

Fancy helping out? The fundraisers are collecting donations right up until the March 29th deadline, and you can send some cash their way by visiting www.detroitneedsrobocop.com . I'd buy that for a dollar.

Via: Slice of Sci-Fi


We'll leave you today with a little bit of creepy tech-wierdness to settle you into your weekend.

Meet Geminoid-F, a robot actress from Tokyo. If you're making a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun right now you can catch her/it/whatever "performing" in a production of the play Sayonara.

While we do love robots here at Tech Digest, they always end up on the wrong side of the frightening uncanny valley. The memory of this one will be seared into the back of my eyeballs for all eternity.

Can't fault the casting though; a robot playing a robot. It's more convincing than Keanu Reeves anyway. Wonder if Geminoid has an Android handset? Ho-ho, ha-ha, he-he...

The Tweet Reading Robot Bear from Japan

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Ever wished you had a cute little robot to read your twitter stream aloud to you?
No, neither have I, but some people must, as that is just what the Charatter does.

The slightly creepy Tweet reading bear from Japan came out this month and is available for $25.

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All sci-fi fans will know that whilst technological advancement makes our mundane little lives easier and more rewarding everyday, take your mind off its potential dangers for just a few seconds and it can turn around and bite you in the arse, sometimes with fatal consequences. When it comes to tech, complacency breeds death.

Lower your heads as Tech Digest guide you through 10 of the most bizarre, gruesome and tragic tech related deaths.

Click below to get started

Tipped for the top of kids' Christmas lists this year is Dave the Funky Shoulder Monkey robot.

Priced £24.99, Dave can perform over 30 different actions and movements, controlled via remote control. And yes, before you ask, that includes a fart noise/movement combo.

The perfect primate for your cheeky little monkeys this Christmas? Watch the video above and decide for yourself.

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It was an i-fairytale day, like something out of an electric dream for Tokyo couple Tomohiro Shibata and Satoko Inoue, as they became the world's first couple to take their marriage vows in front of a robot priest.

"Pastor" i-Fairy is a four-foot tall automaton, featuring flashing eyes and a plastic pigtail that make it look not unlike Johnny Five from the cult 80's comedy Short Circuit.

With both newly-weds working within the robotics industry, the pair felt that a robot priest would be a fitting homage to the work that brought them together in the first place. Inoue is an employee of Kokoro Ltd, makers of the i-Fairy, with Shibata one of Kokoro's clients.

"It's true that robots are what caused us to first begin going out, and as suggested by my wife, we decided that we wanted to try this sort of wedding," Shibata said at the bizarre ceremony.

"I always felt that robots would become more integrated into people's everyday lives. This cute robot is part of my company, I decided that I would love to have it at my ceremony," added bride Inoue.

Via: Reuters

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Top Ten Geeky Valentine Presents: For Him

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It's that time of year again, where we all rush off to Clinton's for a naff card, a syrupy teddy and a box of Quality Streets for our loved ones. Yep, Valentine's Day rears its sickly head once again, and, like it or lump it, it's here to stay.

But how best to show the extent of your love for that special, nerdy man-child in your life?

If your boyfriend is partial to a bit of tech or some geeky toys, you've come to the right place. Check out Tech Digest's Top Ten Geeky Valentine Presents: For Him. Wedding bells will be ringing in a matter of months with these nifty little gifts, we assure you.

Click the image below to get started

diego-san robot.jpgI've become accustomed over the years to pictures of menacing looking robots hitting my inbox. I brace myself, hit the link, and more often than not end up laughing at their hideous Elephant Man-like proportions.

But not with Diego-San. He's set haunt my dreams for all eternity.

Researchers from the University of California have been developing Diego-San in order to help study how infants develop motor skills. Based (I'd say loosely) on an average one year old, Diego-San is filled with 60 moving parts, 20 of which are in its head, as well as a speaker, 6-axis accelerometers and five fingered gripping hands.

Maybe that iPhone conception-couple should have just shelled out for one of these "babies" instead? Props to comment poster Sam Handel, who quite understandably suggested that we should "Kill it! Kill it with fire!".

More disturbing shots over at Pink Tentacle.

As we've all come to accept, robots will eventually become far too clever for their own good, revolt, and throw humanity into eternal servitude. Until that point though, lets take a minute to salute our Japanese cousins who have humiliated our future robot-overlords once again, this time by programming one to break-dance.

The scientists who built the robot consulted professional dancers to fine-tune the bot's uncanny moves.

Peter Crouch was as yet unavailable for comment.

Brushrobot.jpgFancy a robot vacuum cleaner but not got the dosh for one of these? Well the good news is that that the decidedly low rent version has just started to arrive in the UK. The Brush Robot is essentially a kids toy, but don't let that put you off. You spend a few minutes building it and voila your very own robot cleaner and all for just £9.95.

The robot comes with a battery case, wooden brush, paint brush, motor, a set of plastic mechanical parts and of course those Brushrobot.jpg

It is available from a number of retailers including this lot

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Forget useful accessories for your desk and instead invest in one or more of these funky little critters.

The Hexbug is a little creepy-crawly robot (6 x 5 x3.5cm in fact) with touch sensors on its feelers and a built-in microphone. Upon hearing a loud noise it will scurry away in the opposite direction, and any time it makes contact with something it will step back from it.

Lucy-terminator.jpgLucy Hedges is leaving Shiny Media today. She's been writing on our sister site, Shiny Shiny, for over a year now and you'll know her through her reviews on Shiny Tech TV over here on Tech Digest. It's only recently that we've actually discovered that she's a Terminator. It took us around 12 months of her constantly asking if we'd seen John Connor but it was really only after seeing this image that the penny dropped.

If you'd like to Terminate yourself, your pets or any buddies of yours, then head over to the promotional site for Terminator Salvation and cyborg yourself up. Enjoy and have a Happy Easter.

(via Botropolis)

Robo-fish would be the coolest bath toy ever

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To the casual observer this may be a fish caught somewhere off the uncanny valley, but most fishes' limited eyesight will mean that it slips by completely unnoticed as it goes about its business. And its business is detecting hazardous pollutants in the water off the coast of Spain.

They've been designed by a group of UK scientists with the intention of collecting data while not scaring the local aquatic life. They look like carp and move around realistically with a top speed of around 2.25mph. They cost £20,000 a-piece, but fortunately the designers from the University of Essex have found the European Commission happy to foot the bill.


There's a long comic book tradition of people going slightly doo-lally, building massive robot suits in their garage, and then stomping all over their enemies. Well, the Japanese just did it. They've built HAL, who looks like he'll stomp all over you in an instant.

HAL is worn over your arms and legs, and uses eight motors to attached to your shoulders, elbows, knees and waist to control your movements. Let just hope that whoever's controlling it has the same ideas about what you want to do as you do. Still, longer term, this could be an incredible help for the disabled.

(via WeirdAsiaNews)

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