Friday, September 28, 2007

Photos: Oddities at Digital LIfe

The Geekanerd team took in the sights and sounds of Digital Life yesterday, most of which were distinctly robotic in nature. This is a robot's world, folks, we just live in it. Here's a selection of some of the convention's most notable displays.

At the iRobot keynote address, typical human opinions about robots were projected onscreen...

Roomba is not impressed by our illogical natterings.

Roomba eradicates dissent with the same ruthless efficiently it applies to ridding the world of fluff and dander.

That's all nice and foreboding, but Roombas are old news. The real excitement came when Colin Angle, iRobot's C.E.O. and Co-Founder, introduced a new member of their pizza-shaped robot family, the ConnectR. The ConnectR may look like a bedpan...
...but is in fact a stay-at-home proxy of you. That's right, YOU, yourself. The ConnectR is a set of remote controlled eyes and ears within your home, to be utilized when you're away on business but would still like to get some quality time in with the children. Gaze upon this photo, workaholics of America, and witness your future!

Controlled via your PC over a private network, this little robot can move back and forth, tilt it's unblinking electronic eye 360 degrees, and transmit your voice to your beloved, slightly unsettled family.  What the above photo doesn't show is the mess your robot surrogate will make when it sails across the Monopoly board in an attempt to push it's piece to Marvin's Gardens. "Daaaad!"

To be honest, I do see the appeal of a "Virtual Visiting Robot". I've got a baby half-sister in California, and here I am on the other side of the country in New York. It would be great to have a real, concrete presence in her every day life, even if that presence had to be slightly scary and electronic. But the idea that the baby would grow up believing that a talking plastic hubcap was her actual sister gives me pause. Still, it's kidna cute, right?

Hewlett Packard's address lacked robots and was therefore pretty dull, despite the fact that VP Phil McKinney was rocking the dressed down Steve Jobs look. The part that got my attention was when McKinney screened this old highly speculative game demo for HP's Mscape technology, and mentioned that some cynics on Digg thought the video's proposed application of technology was a tad unbelievable.

Then, as if to silence those doubting Thomases once and for all, Phil whipped out what he said was the actual device that will at last make gamers' augmented reality dreams come true, and will turn them into heroes in a never-ending video game as expansive as the entire earth.

Or maybe it was just a little rectangular piece of plastic the boys in marketing whipped up. Either way, McKinney did not go so far as to claim the thing worked like in the video, or would be produced as an HP product, or was not a PSP with a orange sticker over the screen.

Finally, Gateway introduced their new line of computers that look like giant iPods, but not before serving a basketful of these alarming muffins...
For more in-depth coverage of the coolest tech at Digital Life, check out our video features on the Novint Falcon (an awesome "force feedback" game controller) and our old friend the ConnectR.

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