Microsoft Announces Kinect for Windows And New SDK At CES

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that they would officially be bringing their Kinect hardware to the Windows platform. The hardware is the mostly the same but new firmware allows the depth camera to see objects as close as 50cm away without losing accuracy or precision. Microsoft also says Kinect for Windows is 20% faster than it was in the last release and the accuracy rate of skeletal tracking and joint recognition have been substantially improved. Microsoft has allowed the beta SDK to be used with Xbox Kinect and will continue to allow existing projects access to the SDK but they also state that all future projects will need to purchase the Kinect For Windows hardware in order to have access to upcoming SDK releases. Kinect For Windows and the SDK will cost $249 ($149 for an academic license).

3D Home Printer From 3D@Home

The consumer electronics show CES is this week so we are probably going to see a couple new 3D printers announced. MakerBot has been teasing a new version of their Thing-O-Matic and today 3D@Home announced their Cube printer. The printer will cost $1,299 and print standard .STL files to print out ABS plastic models. 3D@Home also plans to offer a print on demand service for larger models.

Is 2012 The Year That Robot Applications Take Root?

Tell us what apps you want.

Low-cost Spectral Imaging Solution

Hyperspectral imaging, also called imaging spectroscopy, is a method of obtaining the spectral content of each pixel in a 2D image. The spectral data can be used into identify the chemical compounds or materials. Up till now hyperspectral imaging devices have been very expensive, starting at around $25,000 dollars. Engineers at the Vienna University of Technology and the University of Arizona have shown that they can perform CTIS spectral imaging using an unmodified consumer camera. The device they have developed can be used in a hyperspectral imaging mode that allows the spectral measurement of a whole image with up to 5-nm spectral resolution and 120 x 120-pixel spatial resolution and can be built for under $1000.

Flight Assembled Architecture

Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D’Andrea are a fully automated construction project at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France that uses flying robots to assemble a six meter high tower constructed of 1500 polystyrene foam bricks. The exhibit lasts from up to February 19, 2012. The same team previously used a robot called "R-O-B" to build a looping wall in New York and the award-winning Structural Oscillations installation at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale.

FMC Technologies to Increase Ownership of Schilling Robotics to 100 Percent

FMC Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: FTI) announced today that it has given notice to exercise its purchase option for the remaining 55% of outstanding shares of Schilling Robotics LLC ("Schilling"). The transaction is expected to close on or about March 30, 2012. FMC purchased its existing 45% interest in Schilling and obtained the purchase option in 2008. Schilling is a leading producer of remotely operated vehicles ("ROVs"), ROV manipulator systems, control systems and other high-technology equipment and services for oil and gas subsea exploration and production. FMC and Schilling have collaborated on a variety of projects and technology advances over the past three years, including an innovative control system for Petrobras' Congro/Corvina project that will use subsea robotics technology to operate the manifold and separation station valves. "We are pleased that Schilling will become part of FMC," said John Gremp, Chairman, President and CEO of FMC Technologies. "Their technologies will help us develop additional solutions to further strengthen our subsea leadership position."

Case Study: Micron Resolution Vision Inspection Systems

Compass Automation has rapidly become an industry-leading provider of high resolution, in-line vision inspection systems. In the fall of 2011 Compass completed the project highlighted below for Mitchel & Scott Machine Company, providing an automated vision inspection and thread checker system. Compass was able to provide Mitchel & Scott with an outstanding product in an extremely tight timeline. This system exceeded the quoted performance, providing a repeatability of 2 microns, a reproducability of 4 microns, and passing a Gage R&R with a score of 7.4%.

Robotics and Roads

Bill Zurn was inspired to develop a road repair machine patent after being frustrated by all of the potholes on the freeways & city streets. He postulated that a more efficient method of repairing roads was possible by adding robotic modules and computer controlling methods to repair machines.

Robotics is a Highly Fragmented Industry With Few Common Standards or Platforms

Recently there's been a clammer for (and against) a universal open-source robotic operating system. The proponents main argument is that such a system is beneficial particularly for rapid prototyping in the development of new systems while almost all of the industrial robot manufacturers argue that their robots are performing mission critical tasks which require secure and fail-safe operating systems - which they have developed and optimized over the past 50 years.

i-AGV ADAM from RMT Robotics Supports Otis Technology's Transition To Lean Manufacturing

When a company announces its intention to introduce Lean practices and implement automated solutions to improve efficiencies, the first concern internally is the displacement of labor. But that was not the case for Otis Technology, a forward-thinking company specializing in the design and manufacturing of gun cleaning systems in upstate New York. The priority was to redeploy labor into value-added tasks in line with its commitment to a Lean philosophy.

Stratasys Offering Monthly Lease for 3D Printers

Stratasys is now offering monthly leases options for the uPrint SE 3D Print Pack and the uPrint SE Plus 3D Print Pack. Monthly lease packages are USD $290 for uPrint SE and USD $380 for uPrint SE Plus. Besides the printer, the 3D Print Packs include startup supplies, a support-removal system, and cleaning agent.

Aldebaran Robotics Updates Their NAO Robot

Aldebaran Robotics just released a promo video for their next NAO robot. The new model includes 2 cameras, 4 microphones, sonar rangefinder, 2 IR emitters and receivers, 1 inertial board, 9 tactile sensors, and 8 pressure sensors. NAOqi, their proprietary embedded software, provides functionality for task such as speech recognition, object recognition, and access to all the sensors. Code development can take place in Windows, Mac OS, or Linux and be called from many languages, including C++, Python, Urbi, and .Net.

Micro-expression Detection Software

Humans are good at recognizing full facial expressions which present a rich source of affective information. However, psychological studies have shown that affect also manifests itself as micro-expressions. These are very rapid 1/3 to 1/25 second involuntary facial expressions which give a brief glimpse to feelings that people undergo but try not to express. Researchers at Oxford University and Oulu University are developing software that can recognize these ‘micro-expressions’. The initial experiments do indicate that the approach can distinguish deceptive from truthful micro-expressions, but further experiments need to be conducted to confirm it. The full paper is available here .

How Kiva Systems and Warehouse Management Systems Interact

Companies considering a new material handling system are often simultaneously evaluating warehouse management systems (WMS) or have already implemented a WMS. When considering an automated material handling solution such as the Kiva Mobile Robotic Fulfillment System, companies often ask how the systems will work together.

7-axis Robot Programming Solution For Trimming Of Composite Parts

Using Robotmaster software for off-line programming of a 7-axis robot used for the precise trimming required in the manufacturing of General Atomics' Predator Drone.

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