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issue: April 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Consumer Electronics
Robo-Home


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The Honda Asimo Type R can climb stairs as well as run—no small feat, but he’s still not ready to help around the house.

The robots are coming home. CES served as the venue for exhibitors to show off home robots that meet, and those that defy, consumer expectations.

The crowds gathered at the Honda exhibit to view the latest incarnation of the Asimo, the humanoid robot that was making its first appearance outside Japan (Honda is headquartered in Tokyo). He’s called Asimo Type R—R for revolutionary and for run. The robot’s ability to run is seen as emblematic of its advancement over previous version of the robot. It can also interact more naturally with humans, carry out commands and more effectively perform tasks. The goal is to refine Asimo to such a degree he can replace humans in dangerous working environments or be entrusted to assist people who lack full mobility—making this robot into the world’s most sophisticated universal design appliance.

But R does not stand for Retail. Asimo is still under development and not yet ready for consumers.

Robotic TV Mount

Other robotic technology is on the market and making life easier for consumers. One of these is from CLO Systems (West Covina, California, U.S.), which is taking the promise of wall-mounted, flat-panel TVs one better. The company makes robotic mountings for video displays—such as the V-Arm, which can mount a TV screen as big as 50 inches. The unit will move the TV into the user’s desired position, extending it up to 22 inches from the wall. It swivels left and right, 60 degrees each way, and tilts up and down 25 degrees each way. The robotic arm comes with a remote, with two buttons for setting favorite positions, and the system can be tied into the home networking system.

The prototype Roboboa from WowWee Ltd. could serve as a security bot.

Robot Boa Constrictor

The true success of home robotics is in their usability, and even robotic toy maker WowWee Ltd. (Hong Kong) launched a new device at CES that might actually have practical applications. The Roboboa™ will be a snake-like robot that is a smart desk light and alarm clock, and offers room security features and a safety light. The unit will launch late in 2007 (along with a robotic Elvis that appears to have less practical functionality).

iRobot Programmable Robot for Developers

The leader in home-use robotics, Roomba vacuum maker iRobot Corp. (Burlington, Massachusetts, U.S.), was on-hand at CES to unveil a programmable robot that can be used by developers and students.

Interesting, yes, but not as groundbreaking as a truly practical robotic home appliance will be, whenever it materializes. It seems safe to assume that iRobot Corp., which hones its expertise in the highly sophisticated world of military robotics, has got some very interesting home robotic applications in development in its skunk works at its headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts, U.S.

 

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