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Occasionally, I ponder a machine that is capable of reading all the chaotic thoughts inside my head at any given time. Once the thoughts have been collated, this device should then find a tangible yet beautiful media to output these thoughts in a cohesive manner. The closest that technology has come to doing this so far, that I am aware of, is reconstructing the brains vision. At UC Berkeley, scientists have been using an fMRI system to record the blood flow through their brains’ visual cortex as the user watches youtube videos. Using this data scientist have been able to reconstruct the visuals that the user was being fed.

article via gizmodo

There are some obvious concerns when it comes to human rights and violation of privacy but thats not what concerns me the most. Once they have invented this mind reader device what if my thoughts output like this:

Article vis MAKE

Its been a really long tome since i wrote anything on here. This is partly because i am slacking and the mainly because i have 7 weeks left of my degree and have endless amounts of work to do. Just thought I’d take some time to document version two of the rhythm bug idea I posted a while ago.  Its a bit slow at the mo but works well. Gonna try different wheels maybe a different motor to see if i can improve its performance. I have also changed the switch to be more linear instead of rotating. This seemed to fit better into such a small space. One other detail that is worth mentioning is the humble Drawing pin. The contacts that slide across the circuit board are made from upside down drawing pins. They slide really well, conduct electricity really well and allow the contact to rotate with the movement putting less strain on the solder join – Useful little things!

cleverbot is a product of Jaberwacky lets you create a robot and then teach it to chat about what ever you would like it to chat about.  The idea is that insurance companies and other commercial sites could teach the robot about what they do and then the robot could be placed on their website to help customers with questions and advice.  That’s the practical side of it but for me i just enjoyed chatting absolute nonsense to it and reading its random responses. At one point it asked me if i tasted of cheese and it also told me the the giant pyramid with the eye is watching me. Perfectly normal conversations! The idea behind the site is pretty amazing! It would be good if they published an API for the service so that people could link Arduino and other hardware to the site and have actual AI talking projects.

Jules’ – a disembodied androgynous robotic head – can automatically copy the movements, which are picked up by a video camera and mapped on to the tiny electronic motors in his skin.

It can grin and grimace, furrow its brow and ‘speak’ as his software translates real expressions observed through video camera ‘eyes’.

The project, called ‘Human-Robot Interaction’, was devised at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), run by the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.

freaky stuff i like my gadgets to look like gadgets. The whole project is ridiculously impressive though.

There is a lot more on this subject at the dailyMail site

It is also seriously worth while checking out the robot gallery on the BRL website as well.

After my post on subconscious tapping a while ago i have been pondering over my own version. I have been developing a very simple robot that bounces back and forth between two objects; the further apart the objects the slower the beat. I plan to make quite a few of these little bots so that different beats can be made by having each robot bounce between different distances.  Here’s a quick mock up of how the robots will be made –

I have nick named him Gaz the destroyer i made a mock up out of cardboard before this one who was not quite so successful. He was called Baz the racing slug! i do in fact need to get out more.

I am quite happy with the over all performance of the mock up. There are a few things to take into consideration. The robot produces a slight wheel spin on the return journey. This is because of bad weight distribution. I have decided to counteract this by making the robot 4 wheel drive. I also want to consider what material to construct the mechanism with so that when the robot bashes against an object it makes a good noise.

As a first blog entry this might be quite sub standard but I’m going to give it my best shot. Recently I had the opportunity to play with the Lego Mindstorm kit. Who would of thought getting your degree could be so much fun? The anticipation and excitement as i opened the box was reminiscent of the chaos i caused every Christmas morning of my childhood. The instruction were tossed aside and a shower of Lego pieces vacated their correct compartments and scattered noisily all over the desk. after a good half an hour of random, unsuccessful compilations of Lego pieces and the Lego Nxt brain itself i decided it might be time to admit defeat.

The Nxt might at first glance appear to be a playful, naive, toy but when you start researching its capabilities the possibilities are endless. The simplicity and speed at which the Nxt can be manipulated makes it an awesome tool for prototyping. Once i spent some time to read the instructions and followed some of the basic tutorials i was hooked. There is something quite liberating about just clipping components together and instantly setting them to work. One of the only things negative i have to say about the Nxt is that i found the software quite tiresome. Maybe after messing with code for so long i have conditioned my self for a top down style of thinking where as the Lego software was very visual based heavily upon drag and drop. After a little research i found a class library for C# entitled MindSqualls and this opened up a whole world of possibilities. MindSqualls can be downloaded here along with a lot of documentation and tutorials.

The end result – His name is Mo-B (Haven’t a clue why just seemed right 😛 )

Some inspiring robots from others and places for more information:

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