Tag Archive for 'robotic'

16JulHow to design a reconfigurable artificial sensate skin?

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For the technical area of my general exams lead by Dr. Joe Paradiso, I read Gerardo Barroeta Pérez’s very inspiring thesis in which he presents S.N.A.K.E.: A dynamically reconfigurable artificial sensate skin as well as a series of related work.

The idea is to design a device that inherits the characteristics of human skin. Surveying prior work in materials, flexible electronics, sensing matrices and sensor networks, Gerardo presents a new type of artificial sensate skin: low power, scalable, mechanically flexible, and that extracts a rich set of multi modal sensor data. Also each node in SNAKE is capable of changing its behavior by changing its code. One can use SNAKE as a scalable smart material that covers interactive surfaces!

This Skin is composed of one or many Skin Patches which in turn are composed of one or many Skin Nodes. Each node is able to measure Strain, Pressure, Ambient Light, Pressure, Sound and Mechano-reception. Each Skin Patch can either work as a stand-alone device or as a data extraction device if this is attached to a Personal Computer through a different type of device referred to as Brains. Each Skin Node and therefore each Skin Patch: is Dynamically Adaptable meaning that they can adapt to external stimuli by either modifying their behavior or by completely changing their code. Construction of a sensate skin in such a modular fashion promises intrinsic scalability, where peer-to-peer connections between neighbors can reduce local data, which can then be sent to the brain by the high-speed common backbone.


Paradiso observed two general trends in sensor networks: Either the individual sensors are routed to a central processing unit or as completely decentralized sensor networks. So in SNAKE, data can be processed locally because each node is given processing power. Each node can also be connected to each other to create a skin like surface to react to the same kinds of stimuli that our skin encounters. The idea of a communication link between nodes is inspired by how our cells communicate with one another. When stimulated they generate an electrical pulse, informing our brain, while also releasing neurochemical transmitters received by neighboring cells.

Each skin patch in SNAKE is a sensor network composed by sensor nodes. Each node is made of a multi layer, flexible circuit substrate that sense six physical quantities: Stain/Bending by using two orthogonal custom made strain gages. Proximity/Activity by using a piezoelectric cantilever. Absolute pressure by using a quantum-tunneling effect material. Ambient light by adding an integrated sensor. Audio by adding a MEMS microphone. Temperature by using an integrated temperature sensor.

Related work in the field

Paintable Computer designed by William Butera for his PhD thesis at MIT. Paintable Computing is: “An agglomerate of numerous, finely dispersed, ultra miniaturized computing particles; each positioned randomly, running asynchronously and communicating locally -Butera”.

Tribble designed by Josh Lifton is a tactile reactive interface built by linked elements assembled in a sphere made up of tiles. The advantage of this work is to be a completely decentralized network; each node is capable of processing its own generated data without the need of a centralized processing unit. The cons is probably its shape, fixed, preventing it of being a scalable smart surface. Also it is power hungry!



Pushpin Computing
The project developed by Josh Lifton & Michael Broxton consists of a hundred of peer-to-peer wireless sensor nodes freely distributed over a table-top interface.



Recreating the sense of touch have been explored by many other researchers, but all of them rely on a centralized processing unit to process the data extracted from the sensors. For instance, Lumelsky’s sensitive skin, a prototype of a skin patch with infrared lights and receivers used as proximity sensors. Hakozaki created a flexible robot skin to cover wide robot surfaces. Rekimoto presents a capacitive “smart skin” sensor for use in interactive surfaces.

Also prior work as shown artificial sensate skins not implemented as sensor networks but as sensor matrices: each sensor must be individually routed to a central processing unit. This is the case for instance for Takao Someya and his large flexible sensor matrix with organic field effect transistors or for M. Sergio’s textile-based capacitive sensor array that can be used as sensitive skin.


Takao Someya’ sensor matrix

An artificial sensate skin needs to be flexible. The innovative work of Stephanie Lacour is probably the most prominent example. She has created a new conducting material that can be stretched and still retain their electronic properties this by depositing thin gold layers on elastic rubber substrates. Also one can refer to the work done on the e-paper by Jacobson, micro capsules, filled with electronically loaded white parts that were dissolved in a dark colored oil.

-> Link <- to the .pdf of Pérez thesis.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

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the official Absolut Quartet ad, shot by Laurent Seroussi and designed by TBWA.
Absolut Quartet ad, shot by Laurent Seroussi and designed by TBWA.

Jeff did it again. We followed his adventures right after he won the competition. Now he completed the proposal and currently exhibits his spectacular robotic work. Music and vodka works in pair and this time beautiful mechanics come into play. Jeff Liebermann and Dan Paluska worked together on Absolut Quartet.

closeup of some of the 100 custom electronics boards fabricated, one for every note.
Closeup of some of the 100 custom electronics boards fabricated, one for every note.

Absolut Quartet, a commission for the Absolut Visionaries project, is a music making machine like no other. The audience becomes part of the performance, while watching something that appears impossible. You can log in to ABSOLUTMACHINES.COM for a chance to interact with the machine. You will enter a 4-8 second theme, and the machine will generate, in real-time, a unique musical piece based on the input melody you have provided.

the marimba shooting mechanisms and closeup of the wine players. photo by sesse lind.

The marimba shooting mechanisms and closeup of the wine players. Photo by Sesse Lind.

You will see this melody played by three instruments. The main instrument is a ballistic marimba, which launches rubber balls roughly 2m into the air, precisely aimed to bounce off of 42 chromatic wooden keys. The second instrument is an array of 35 custom-tuned wine glasses, played by robotic fingers. Finally, an array of 9 ethnic percussion instruments rounds out the ensemble.


Don’t forget to check the sound machines by Pe Lang and Zimoun, and by Festo.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

17MarDemoing ideas!

Soon my research lab opens its house! It is reserved to corporate sponsors only, but the Media Lab recently started an initiative opened to the public. The initiative, the LabCAST, highlights projects in their latest stages through videos. I recommend watching them!

One of the lab’s primary source of funding comes from more than 60 corporate sponsors whose businesses range from electronics to entertainment, furniture to finance, and toys to telecommunications! So we demo our latest prototypes and research ideas ranging from engineering to social sciences.

“Adventures in Science” illustration by Allan Sanders

A very busy time for us bricoleurs-researchers as we need to put together our latest ideas in a demo-able format. We need to reorganize the demo space, clean the old toys, bring new ones, empty the entire floor, use carpet cleaners, basically make the space looks bright and shiny!

I recently reorganized my research area to bring my projects together, start presenting a story about my line of work. From Psychohaptics a set of haptic garments for health care, to Picture This! a new input device for video capturing and editing! Working on the proposal for my general exams for my PhD I am defining a framework for my research that I hope to present at the open house.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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06MarAn Environment for the Prosthetic Body

Hybrid Architecture: An Environment for the Prosthetic Body by Georges Teyssot The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol. 11, No. 4, 72-84 (2005)

Drawing from philosophical, literary, artistic and technological sources, this text focuses on the theoretical relations between body and environment. It illustrates the argument by probing into various topics such as: desiring machines, body without organs, organs without body, gymnastic implements, body-building, celibate machines, incorporation, disembodiment, androids, robots, cyborgs, electro-mechanical and electronic apparatuses, spacesuits, wearable computers and augmented reality, the eco-technical spheres and the matrix. In addition, it looks into theories of medical devices that help explain the notion of the prosthetic body. Finally, within the context of theories of tools and cyber-organism, it attempts to rethink design through the terms of contemporary practices of daily life.

Zombie Kit V1, 2007 by Brian Walker

See also the Prosthetic Impulse

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

05MarFloating DIY robotic species

Blubber Bots are floating DIY robotic species that navigate autonomously and intelligently. Blubber Bots float, dance, seek and sing. They are light-seeking hellium-filled balloons that graze the landscape in search of light and cellphone signals. Designed into the inflatable form is a set of light sensors enabling them to seek out the brightest light source. They are also equipped with a phone flasher and can recognize cellphone activity. You can interact with a Blubber Bot by making a call and waving your phone near it. In response, it will go into a flocking dance or sing you a special tune.

In the pursuit to evolve and grow the biotopes, some of the species have bred forming 500 new young, The Blubber Bots. are offspring of the Autonomous Light Air Vessels (ALAVs). The Blubber Bots call for participation from the audience. Through educating an audience from a more hands on experience, Blubber Bots can be assembled and let loose into the world by anyone willing to do so.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure



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