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January 29, 2019

Robot hand plays piano

Long story short: a team at the University of Cambridge led by Josie Hughes, a researcher in the Department of Engineering, led the development of the hand, which operates passively — meaning its fingers are not individually connected to any motors. Instead, a simple mechanical arm controls only the wrist, and the rest of the hand follows in a design inspired by human anatomy.

Said Hughes, "Our aim is to move away from the traditional approach in robotics, where one motor gives one behavior, because that doesn't scale." 

December 19, 2018 New York Times Science section story here.

Abstract of the original research paper, published December 19, 2018 in Science Robotics, here.

January 29, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stealth House — Privacy in plain sight


Designed by architect Makoto Tanijiri for a family in Saijo, Japan.


Wrote Marcia Argyriades in a July 4, 2009 Yatzer story, "when first seen it seems as if it's a house from the future.... it's actually inspired by the earliest house in Japanese architecture: the pit dwelling or 'tateana jukyo.'


Constructed during the Yayoi era (200 B.C. – 250 A.D.), pit dwellings were built by digging a circular pit (or a rectangular one with rounded edges) fifty or sixty centimeters deep and five to seven meters in diameter, then covering it with a steep thatched roof.



According to Tanijiri, the clients, a young couple and their three children, wanted a unique house, in which the open public part would preserve privacy.


The site, which was formerly an open field, was excavated and the house was sunk a meter into the ground.


The soil from the excavations was used to create a protective barrier around the perimeter of the site, and acted as the organic base of the house.


The barrier formed is both visual and physical and was planted to create a lush landscape.


The sunken level of the house is communal; the perimeter is constructed of exposed glossy concrete.


Four inclined black steel V plates were placed at each corner of the ground floor to support the construction and the other two levels of the pit dwelling. The sunken level is open plan and consists of the living, kitchen and dining areas. Although it is a meter below ground level, it has a lot of natural light as Tanijiri placed ribbon windows on all four sides.



A timber staircase without handrails leads to the first floor where the master bedroom and bath are found; however, it also neatly conceals a washroom located on the ground floor. The master bedroom enjoys a terrace which is cut into the surface of the pyramid-like construction, thus allowing natural light [to enter]. 

[via Milena]

January 29, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Is it just me or is Apple xyz down for everyone?

Screen Shot 2019-01-29 at 10.07.15 AM

Find out here.

January 29, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Secretariat's Race for the Ages: Belmont Stakes, 1973

Chic Anderson's superb call of this race, during which he declared "Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine" as he steadily expanded his already unbelievably huge lead, is one for the ages.

Secretariat set a new Belmont Stakes record with a time of 2:24, breaking the existing American record for a mile and a half — 2:26:2 — by over two seconds in a sport where new records are usually measured in fifths of a second.

He won by 31 lengths, the largest margin of victory in Belmont history. 

January 29, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Somnox Sleep Robot


Pictured above, Washington Post columnist Geoffrey Fowler snuggling with Somnox on the floor of the CES trade show.

From Fowler's Washington Post story:


Perhaps a robot can help [you sleep]. 

A $550 device called Somnox chills you out by simulating the breathing of a bed companion. 

Sensors detect your breath, and try to regulate it subconsciously when you hug the cloth-covered robot and feel the rising and falling of its "breathing" and hear its soothing sounds. 

It's a high-tech teddy.



This device can't come close to what my cat does every night once she climbs up onto the bed and wedges herself into the space between my left upper arm and chest.

As soon as she begins the "walking in place" routine that precedes her drop onto the sheet, I take off my glasses and put my book aside. 

Once I put my right palm against her minky soft, furry belly, it's game over.

I never even remember turning out the light, so powerful is her comfort field.

January 29, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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