CES is the annual pilgrimage of over 150,000 suits paying homage to the oracles of televisions and mobile connected devices. I joined the masses, but instead of praying at the temples of Samsung and Sony, I decide to walk off the beaten path. Below are some highlights of some promising new technologies that is sure to enhance our robotic world.
I entered the South Hall, and was quickly blown away by this amazing little robot (see video) that took the place of their “booth girls” to lure visitors into the MuRata presentation. MuRata is a $6 billion Japanese OEM part manufacturer that makes the “insides” to so many of our electronic devices, from digital cameras to cell phones. Their semiconductors, wireless sensors, RFID components and other technology improves our daily lives. While MuRata Robots are not sold in stores, they illustrates the power of MuRata’s automation when reconfiguring the parts into a humanoid looking device that rides unicycles and bicycles with great ease.
After leaving the noisy halls of the convention center, I took the bus over to the Eureka Park show at the Venetian Hotel. Eureka Park is the smaller, much smaller, exhibit of promising new startups. I went searching for robots. I was not disappointed. First, I visited a Colorado startup called Modular Robotics that produces a new construction kit called Cubelets. Their “block” system is similar to lego bricks, but with expensive micro-senors embedded into the toy. Cubelets retail for $160 which includes a kit of 6 blocks. While the price point is steep (Lego Mindstorms is $299 for 612 smaller pieces) it is the perfect gift for the engineering-minded kid. Modular Robotics informed me that they are developing new line of kits that will be priced around $50, so stay tuned.
As I went deeper into the Park, I was pleasantly surprised to find some local Las Vegas entrepreneurs, who are graduates of Harvard, with a new robot called ROMO. Romotive is the company behind ROMO (no relation to the Cowboys quarterback) that is developing a new smartphone connected robot that drives around to communicate with the world at large. This exciting new device is just in development and offers a great cross-platform, or transmedia experience, that opens the door to a wide educational field. I grabbed up the first one for $99 (see Robot of the Day). ROMO looks like a spy-cam car but it is so much more, as it enables communication between an RC vehicle, Smartphone and Tablet/PC, along with a growing open-source library of Apps. The most impressive aspect to Romotive is the team as their energy, attitude and enthusiasm enables them to use ROMO as a launchpad to produce a line of open source Smartphone connected toys/learning devices. Watchout LeapFrog, ROMO is coming down for a touchdown.
As I boarded my redeye back to New York, I feel asleep dreaming of the connected world that Vegas presented. Today we, humans, have moved into the pseudo driving seat only to be collared by the electronic/robotic devices around us. Hmmm…no wonder why everyone sat when Samsung said ‘sit’.