Tag: ‘Mobile’

Elfoid: Humanoid mobile phone

04 Mar 2011

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Elfoid -- a REAL android phone

Robotics researchers from Osaka University have teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a handheld humanoid phone that brings a new dimension to mobile communications. A prototype of the device -- called "Elfoid P1" -- was unveiled at a presentation in Tokyo on March 3.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --

The Elfoid phone is a miniature version of the Telenoid R1 robot developed last year by a research team led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. The current prototype measures 20 centimeters (8 in) long, is covered in a soft fleshy urethane skin, and has the same genderless and ageless appearance as the Telenoid. The control buttons are embedded in the chest, which glows green when the Elfoid is in use.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Dr. Ishiguro with Telenoid and Elfoid [Photo by: eSeL.at]

Like the full-sized Telenoid robot, the Elfoid handset is designed to add an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote user.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo: Ars Electronica]

Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user's face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which can then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: d_&_r]

The current prototype is unable to move, but future versions will incorporate tiny motors and parts made from shape-memory alloys, allowing the Elfoid to move its eyes, mouth, neck and arms. Other features will include a temperature sensor, accelerometer, and an easy-to-use voice and gesture based interface.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: antjeverena]

The developers hope to have a fully operational Elfoid mobile phone within five years.

[Sources: ATR, Gizmodo Japan, Yomiuri]

Polaris: Mobile phone robot

09 Sep 2009

Mobile phone giant KDDI has teamed up with Tokyo-based Flower Robotics to develop a new concept mobile phone/robot system designed to monitor and learn the user's behavior and communicate via a home TV set.

Polaris mobile phone robot by KDDI iida --

Called "Polaris," the prototype system consists of a mobile handset that monitors the user's daily activities and an artificially intelligent robot sphere (it looks a lot like Sony's Rolly music player robot) that charges the handset and displays data on the user's TV.

When the phone is held near Polaris, the robot opens up to reveal a cradle for the handset. And when it is placed aboard, the robot automatically steers itself toward the contactless charger connected to the home TV set. Polaris then proceeds to analyze the most recent information collected by the handset, and it displays various data on the TV screen and offers advice, if necessary. Like an artificial life form with a bit of personality, Polaris can physically respond to the data with a series of lights, sounds, and movements.

+ Video

According to Flower Robotics, the Polaris system -- which was unveiled in Tokyo today along with a host of other KDDI "iida" brand products -- is designed to learn the user's lifestyle by collecting data, analyzing activity, and identifying trends. The robot keeps a database of information accumulated through the handset, such as the user's daily travel and walking habits, calls and email messages sent and received, and online transactions. Using this data, Polaris learns to predict the user's behavior and offer relevant advice and information.

Polaris mobile phone robot by KDDI iida --

Still in the concept phase, Polaris needs a number of improvements to prepare it for the real world. In particular, the robot's navigation system needs further attention. At the demonstration, the robot was placed on a large table that had magnets embedded along the edges, and it used sensors to detect the magnets and stop itself from falling off. According to the developers, future versions of Polaris may achieve greater autonomy by communicating with sensors embedded in the walls of the home.

In addition, the developers plan to make the handset more secure by equipping the touch-screen with finger vein sensors.

Flower Robotics has been working with KDDI on the Polaris concept model since joining the au design project in 2007. The developers hope to have a commercial version of the robot ready next year, although the price and final design have yet to be decided.

[Source: Impress]

Mini-humanoid robot with iPhone head

28 Jul 2009

A robot hobbyist has developed an application that lets the iPhone 3GS function as the brain and face of a miniature humanoid robot.

+ Video

The body of the robot -- named "Robochan" -- consists of a Kondo KHR-2HV humanoid. The iPhone head, which attaches to the body via the dock connector, displays various facial expressions while functioning as the controller. Using Robochan's iPhone interface, the user can program it to function as an alarm clock, dance to music, and perform other moves based on user interaction.

Incidentally, Robochan's leek-spinning dance (and the infectious music) is a reference to the old Loituma Girl Internet meme, which began as a simple Flash animation showing a Bleach anime character (Orihime Inoue) twirling a leek to the traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka."

Gov’t to track citizens, prevent pandemic

19 May 2009

H1N1 --

Can GPS tracking technology prevent a swine flu pandemic? Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications hopes to find out this autumn by testing a mobile phone-based GPS tracking system that constantly monitors each individual's location and sends text alerts to participants if they cross paths with anyone who is later identified as a flu victim.

The proposed system relies on mobile phone providers to constantly track the subjects' geographical locations and keep chronological records of their movements in a database. When a person is labeled as "infected," all the past location data in the database is analyzed to determine whether or not anyone came within close proximity to the infected individual.

The system will know, for example, whether or not you once boarded the same train or sat in the same movie theater as the infected individual, and it will send you a text message containing the details of the close encounter. The text messages will also provide instructions on specific measures to take in response.

The primary purpose of the test, which will involve about 2,000 volunteers in both urban and rural areas, is to verify the precision of GPS tracking technology, estimate the potential costs of operating such a system, and determine whether or not such a system can be put into practical use.

To be of any real use in a place like Tokyo, a phone-based disease-tracking system would require the participation of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of subscribers willing to have their locations tracked -- not a stretch given the popularity of wireless services such as NTT DoCoMo's "iConcier," which provides personalized, concierge-like services to individual mobile phones based on location data, shopping history, and other personal information.

From a privacy standpoint, opinions differ on the degree to which sensitive personal data such as location and travel history should be shared and used. With this in mind, the ministry will also explore the issue of psychological resistance to the use of personal information.

[Source: Asahi]

Toshiba tests phone-controlled billboard game

26 Mar 2009

Mobile phone-controlled billboard game in Akihabara

To promote its laptops and showcase digital signage technology capable of utilizing real-time data over the Internet, electronics giant Toshiba tested an interactive digital billboard in Tokyo last weekend that allowed YouTube users and pedestrians with mobile phones to play video games against each other. (Watch a video of the game action.)

Played on a digital billboard above the entrance to the Yodobashi Camera superstore in Akihabara, each game involved up to six players in a 90-second race to paint squares on a grid and hunt for Toshiba's cuddly Pala-Chan mascot. Mobile phone players followed the action on the billboard and used the number keys on their handsets to control the game's paint brushes, while YouTube players on computers used the arrow keys on their keyboards. (More video.)

To participate, pedestrians in Akihabara called a phone number displayed on the billboard before the start of each game, while YouTube users simply clicked a button on Toshiba's toshibanotepc channel (where the game is still available).

Winners who played via mobile phone in Akihabara received Pala-Chan parkas from Toshiba representatives stationed near the billboard site.

The company plans to use similar interactive billboard games to promote other products around town in the future.

[Source: Nikkei]

Robot ticketer welcomes cashless thrillseekers

12 Nov 2008

NEC robot ticket machine --

As the use of e-money gains popularity in Japan, versatile FeliCa RFID readers that support multiple forms of electronic currency are popping up in convenience stores and vending machines, making it easier for users to pay with the swipe of a phone. Electronics giant NEC is jumping in on the action with a FeliCa payment terminal modeled after a life-sized android.

The robot -- a prototype that NEC demonstrated at the recent iEXPO 2008 trade show in Tokyo -- incorporates existing technology, which means a finished version can be produced and deployed at short notice. NEC hopes to land it a job at an amusement park selling entrance tickets to visitors with FeliCa-enabled wallet phones, also known as osaifu keitai.

To pay the robot, users simply select the appropriate e-money icon on the robot's chest-mounted touch screen panel and then swipe their phone over the reader/writer embedded in the left hand. The robot can also be programmed to transfer electronic coupons and other data to the user's phone when payment is made.

NEC robot ticket machine --

Other features include a camera system that can work with face recognition technology to identify and profile park visitors. If asked to do so, the robot can recommend specific attractions based on the person's apparent age and gender.

It is unclear whether any theme parks have expressed interest in hiring the robot. If not, NEC could easily equip it with fingerprint scanners and put it to work at immigration counters to gather biometric data on foreigners in Japan. Tourists would love it.

[Source: IT Media]

Hei Helsinki

09 Sep 2008

Nokia --

Pink Tentacle is hitting the skies this week to participate in the 2008 Nokia Open Lab workshop in Helsinki, Finland, where dozens of selected bloggers and social media participants from across the globe will converge to discuss the future of mobile technology. Topics on the agenda include the future of content creation, location aware solutions, entertainment, and the use of emerging technologies in working life. Sounds intriguing.

Give me a shout if you'd like to stay up to date on the happenings. Or if you know Helsinki, what do you recommend for a taste of the town?

SoftBank Mobile testing smart movie posters

03 Sep 2008

Wall-E --

Japan's first field test of "smart posters" using Near Field Communication (NFC) -- a short-range high-frequency wireless communication technology that lets users view digital content simply by holding their compatible cellphones near the posters -- is being conducted at a Chiba-area shopping mall, it was announced on September 2.

Major phone operator SoftBank Mobile, along with NTT Data, Hitachi and Dutch smart chip maker Gemalto, are testing the technology with WALL-E and Tinker Bell movie posters embedded with NFC tags.

Throughout October, selected test participants will be able to receive and view digital content such as movie stills and trailers simply by holding their NFC-compatible phones (containing NFC-USIM cards) next to the smart posters. Along with the digital content, users also receive an access code that, when transferred to a compatible Hitachi HDTV at home, allows them to view a WALL-E trailer in high definition (via Hitachi's content distribution service).

The tests, which are designed to help the companies evaluate the effectiveness and potential of NFC smart posters as a promotional medium, could be a sign of things to come in the field of poster advertising. Should NFC smart posters become cheap and easy to produce, they have the potential to replace the ubiquitous QR (2D) code that commonly appears in Japanese advertising posters. NFC is seen as more convenient than QR code because the user does not have to scan a code and visit a separate website to view the data. Instead, digital content can be accessed directly with a simple swipe of the phone.

[Source: Nikkei Net, NTT Data]

Docomodake’s last supper

29 May 2008

Appetizing dishes of NTT DoCoMo's mushroom mascot were served up in artist Rika Eguchi's "Last Supper" installation at last year's "How to Cook Docomodake" exhibition in New York. Photos by Marius Watz.

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --
Smothered in special sauce

More scrumptious photos at watz's Flickr photostream.