La macchina di Turing

    Tokyo: the humanoid robot ChihiraAico guides customers in the shopping center

    ChihiraAiko, humanoid robot, Credits: Reuters

    From April 20, customers who visit a shopping center in Tokyo will be greeted by a particular receptionist . It is a humanoid robot with traits of a Japanese woman of about 32 years.

    His name is ChihiraAico, and it is a realistic android robot built by Toshiba and it is able to talk, sing, gesture and cry.

    When visitors enter the Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi, the robot is ready to greet in Japanese and guide them to the different floors of the building to find the products they want to buy.

    So far, ChihiraAico is programmed to communicate in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English and Japanese sign language and is designed to promote “effective communication between humans and non-human.”

    As explained by Toshiba, the robot has 43 motors that allow it to move and also features technology developed by the robotics Japanese expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor of the Department of Systems Innovation of Osaka University that develops robots for over 20 years.

    Ishiguro is a pioneer in his field and, in June of 2014, presented Otonaroid and Kodomoroid -two androids: an adult and a child- at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo.

    Toshiba has worked so hard to technology that allows to synchronize the movements of the body of ChihiraAico (lips, jaw and gestures) with his voice. With Ishiguro’s research and technology  will be possible to make further great strides in the field of humanoid robotics.

    We chose very realistic appearance and movements, which can be used for the service sector, explains Hitoshi Tokuda, head of marketing for the business development division of Toshiba-. We plan also to extend our technology so that the robot can automatically respond to customer requests. A future application will be to care for older people with dementia.


    Chihira Aico, il robot umanoide

    A Tokyo il robot umanoide ChihiraAico guida i clienti al centro commerciale

    ChihiraAiko, humanoid robot, Credits: Reuters. Close-up Engineering

    Abbiamo già parlato spesso di robot umanoidi: dal piccolo iCub capace di apprendere dal mondo esterno, a Han il robot dal volto umano, passando per nanorobot umanoidi a DNA. Un’altra innovazione in questo campo è visibile dal 20 aprile: i clienti che visiteranno un centro commerciale di Tokyo saranno accolti da una particolare receptionist. Si tratta di un robot umanoide dai tratti di una donna giapponese di circa 32 anni.

    Si chiama ChihiraAico, ed è un realistico robot androide costruito da Toshiba ed è in grado di parlare, cantare, gesticolare e piangere.

    Quando i visitatori entrano nel grande magazzino Mitsukoshi di Nihombashi, il robot è pronto a salutarli in giapponese e guidarli ai diversi piani dell’edificio per individuare i prodotti che vogliono acquistare.

    Finora, ChihiraAico è stata programmata per comunicare in giapponese, coreano, cinese, inglese e con la lingua dei segni giapponese ed è stata progettata per promuovere “una comunicazione efficace tra gli essere umani e non umani”.

    Come spiegato da Toshiba, il robot contiene 43 motori che gli permettono di muoversi e dispone anche di tecnologia sviluppata dall’esperto giapponese di robotica Hiroshi Ishiguro, professore presso il Dipartimento di Sistemi di Innovazione della Osaka University che sviluppa robot da oltre 20 anni.

    Ishiguro è un pioniere nel suo campo e, a giugno del 2014, ha presentato Otonaroid e Kodomoroid -due androidi: un adulto e una bambina- presso il Museo Nazionale della Scienza Emergente e dell’Innovazione (Miraikan) a Tokyo.

    Toshiba ha duramente lavorato alla tecnologia che consente di sincronizzare i movimenti del corpo di ChihiraAico (labbra e mascella e gesti) con la sua voce. Con la ricerca e la tecnologia di Ishiguro sarà possibile fare ulteriori grandissimi passi in avanti nel campo della robotica umanoide.

    Abbiamo scelto un aspetto e dei movimenti molto realistici, che possono essere utilizzati per il settore dei servizi -spiega Hitoshi Tokuda, responsabile del marketing per la divisione sviluppo business di Toshiba-. Abbiamo in programma, inoltre, di estendere la nostra tecnologia affinchè il robot possa rispondere automaticamente alle richieste dei clienti. Una futura applicazione sarà quella di assistenza per le persone anziane affette da demenza.

    Hendo: the first hoverboard in history

    The founder of the company Arx Pax, Greg Henderson, is the inventor of Hendo, a board that allows you to float a few inches above the ground. To rise from the ground engineers have used 4 “Hover Engine” capable of creating a powerful magnetic field, generating a magnetic repulsion force between the motor and a metal surface.

    The magnetic levitation (maglev) is a method by which an object is suspended on another without any support (in addition to magnetic fields). The electromagnetic force is used to counter the effects of the gravitational force.

    The system of “levitation” is still under development and therefore the movements of the hoverboard aren’t  yet fluid and precise. This first model supports up to about 136 kg (226 kg, the final version) and is offered at $ 10,000 on Kickstarter.

    hendo, Close-Up Engineering

    The ultimate goal of the Hendo technology consists of an anti-seismic application, if you had to have the technology to put permanent structures in a few inches from the ground, without lateral movements.

    E-Traces, shoes record the ballet dancers movements

    E-Traces Arduino per ballerine, Close-up Engineering - Credits:

    E-Traces stands for “Electronic Traces” and it is an interactive project created with the aim of allowing ballet dancers reproduce their movements in digital “figures” using a customized mobile application.
    The prototype was developed by product designer Lesia Trubat combining technological and craftsmanship expertise and using Arduino Lilypad, force sensors and accelerometers.

    The Electronic Traces concept is based on capture of dance movements transforming them into “visual sensations” through the use of modern technology. To do this -explain the authors of the project- we focused on the ballet shoes that, through contact with the floor and thanks to technology Arduino Lilypad technology , record the pressure and the movements of the feet of the dancers and send signals to an electronic device. A special application will allow us to display graphically the data and customize them for individual user.

    With this technology, the user will be able to see all the performed movements in video format, they can extract images and even print them. The dancers will be able to interpret their movements and correct them or compare them with those of other dancers.


    Arduino LilyPad

    It is a microcontroller designated for wearable technology and “electronic textiles” (e-textiles). It can be sewn to fabric and, as with the other Arduino circuit boards, can be equipped with power supplies, sensors and actuators. The board is based on ATmega168V (the low-power version of the ATmega168) or ATmega328V. Arduino LilyPad  was designed and developed by Leah Buechley and SparkFun Electronics.

    Arduino LilyPad has a circular shape, about 50mm in diameter. It has a thickness of 8mm and being designed to be worn and, with extreme attention, it can also be washed.

    Gallery images credits:

    Graphene, a material for the future

    For some time we talk about Graphene, but now it seems that something is happening for real.

    10 years after the discovery of this revolutionary material by the two Russian researchers (Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, for which they won the Nobel Prize in 2010), the graphene is still the ‘only material in two dimensions, the thinnest ever created (in addition to being the most resistant) and obtainable from the same material it is made of a tip of pencil, graphite.

    But, how the two researchers obtained these thin layers of graphene?

    They took a graphite block and used a tape to remove small fragments of the mineral. Repeating the operation several times on the same fragments and pressing the adhesive tape on a silicon substrate, it was possible to obtain very thin layers, some of which, examined with a solution of sulfuric and nitric acid, showed a thickness of a single atom, or the same size that we get if we divide the section of a human hair 10,000 parties.

    What is the use of Graphene?

    “I dont know. It ‘s like to submit a piece of plastic to a man than a century ago and ask what you can do. A bit ‘of everything, I think “

    Andre Geim

    These are some of the many properties of graphene:

    • Mechanical strength 50 times higher than that of ‘steel;
    • More than twice the thermal conductivity of the diamond;
    • Density equal to half of ‘aluminum, and so dense that not even the’ helium, the smallest gas atom, can pass through it;
    • High acquiescence, or the ability to be shaped at will for any use without the risk of breaking it;
    • Resistant to changes in temperature and pH.

    Some of the fields of application of this material…

    • The “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” in the United States has carried out an experiment in reverse osmosis with graphene, reaching excellent results. The molecular structure of graphene allows you to create any size of the holes on its surface and for this reason it was possible to pass the ‘pure water on one side and salts from’ other. There ‘s nothing new in this experiment, only with the’ use of this material will be possible to have much smaller equipment, an energy cost equal to almost zero water filtration and water purification.
    • The combination of its mechanical properties with electric ones they can be used in electronics flexible and foldable, with the creation of devices that fold back on themselves, that you can roll up or put on your wrist. The electrons can travel in this material with a speed close to that of light, making it the replacement of copper in our computer. It is on this street, Intel and IBM are investigating solutions to solve the problem related to the technologies in silicon which, although superior to any other, they produce a high amount of heat. Graphene, therefore, for its outstanding thermal properties could solve these problems. In addition, the exceptional mobility of the charges, accompanied by appropriate architectural solutions, may allow the realization of ultra-low power transistors for portable applications such as mobile phones or PDAs, which could be recharged once a month, rather than at intervals of a few days, besides the fact that the batteries of mobile phones will be able to charge much more rapidly (it is estimated at around 15 minutes).
    • New solar panels are lighter and will be fully biocompatible carbon. Will be eliminated so the most fragile and expensive made ​​with indium-tin oxide, a material that is more and more difficult in our planet. There will also be more efficient, easier to recycle and consist of two solar cells sandwiched between two layers of graphene. The light passes through the graphene layers and hits the photovoltaic cell, with the result of generating electricity which is then transported from the graphene.
    • Its use must be from aviation (aircraft so lightweight that consume little fuel) to sports.

    What are the costs?

    The ‘international interest is too large, so that the’ European Union has financed one billion euro project to bring it on the market.
    Various techniques have been developed for the production of graphene, but at the moment there is no effective and inexpensive method for obtaining large sheets. It is estimated that the cost to produce one kilogram of graphene are around 30-35,000 Euros.

    iCub, the baby-robot stands now

    iCub is an android robot  built by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT ) in Genoa. It is 104 cm tall , weighs 22 kg and remember, for aesthetics and functionality, a child of about four years.

    iCub has been developed in conjunction with the RobotCub Consortium, a joint venture of some European universities. The major purpose of this platform and hardware is to study cognition through the implementation of algorithms motivated by biology.

    The project is open-source both software,  available for free and unencrypted, and hardware, specifically described in its components, with pieces available in the market .


    53 degrees of freedom

    • 7 for each robotic arm
    • 9 for each robotic hand (3 for the thumb, 2 for the forefinger, 2 for the middle finger, 1 for couple ringfinge-littlefinge, 1 for the abduction / adduction)
    • 6 for head movements
    • 3 for the chest and spine
    • 6 for each leg robotics


    • Crawl ( crawling ) .
    • Basic functions of visual processing .
    • Low-level sensors for the control of eye movement , inertia and body proprioception .
    • High resolution camera that can retransmit the images.
    • Good ability to right-handed manipulation .
    • ITalk : programs for the progressive learning of the language by the robot, in a random object and situation – related

    The humanoid robot is now learning to stand and keep the balance even physical interaction with people. Thanks to the artificial skin that allows it to have 4000 sensitive points on the whole body is capable of measuring at each instant the contacts and the forces that it receives from the outside, responding with appropriate movements to maintain balance.

    These new capabilities will be useful when, in the near future, iCub cohabit with humans in domestic environments and will have to move safely for themselves and for others. This result was achieved thanks to the efforts of researchers from IIT and, in particular, the European Project Codyco, coordinated by Francesco Nori, Department of Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences of IIT.

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