This person enjoys breakfast while creating some art
(Photo from Reuters & Imperial College London )
The field of robotics is steadily growing and becomes more impressive every year. There are robots training with the military, helping out in hospitals, and even providing assistance in homes. Now, they can even paint and be controlled with just a blink of an eye. Scientists from Imperial College London have invented a system that combines eye tracking and a robotic arm to allow for hands-free painting. It sounds like an oxymoron, I mean how can you paint without your hands? According to the scientists, you just have to adjust your gaze and blink at the right times. There's even a video showing one person chowing down on a bagel while using the technology.
Sounds pretty cool, but of course the system is far from perfect and the paintings are pretty crude. The scientists are still working on it and hope it will become intuitive enough where you can focus on perfecting your style, instead of grasping the basics. They also believe the eye-tracking arm will be able to help paralysis victims to multitask and aid in other activities. But these team of scientists aren't the only one working with robotic arms.
This robot learns from your physical arm movements
(Photo via Kickstarter)
A new robot arm called the 7Bot cannot be controlled by your eyes, but rather it can be taught by a users movements. No complicated coding? Nope, just simple teaching. If you want to teach this arm to write, draw, or pick up things, just physically guide the arm or use a gesture to control the device, similar to the Kinect but hopefully without the kinks. From there it's supposed to be able to copy your movements. There's even a video showing the 7Bot doing calligraphy after a team member's grandfather physically taught it how.
If you're afraid you'll somehow break the robotic arm, you can go for the hands off approach by controlling with using its 3D visualization app on a computer. For those who don't get a headache looking at code, the arm can be programmed using the C and C++ open source APIs the 7Bot team provides. The project is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter with under 9 days to go. If you want a 7Bot for yourself, be prepared to shell out $350, which is cheaper than the latest iPhone the creators remind you. If you're willing to pay more there are different packages with more features, like a version with two arms and one with a 3D printer. As long as things go well the 7Bot will start shipping January 2016.
Only time will tell how well either one of these robotic arms will work. In the meantime, don't try to paint without your hands. It could get messy.
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