Inside a former organ factory in San Francisco, Della Shea is building a robot with a sewing machine. She works for Pneubotics, one of a growing number of startups designing softer automatons capable of flexible movements—and, perhaps, daily interaction with humans. “Right now our process looks more like tailoring than engineering,” says Pneubotics co-founder Saul Griffith, pointing to the thick vinyl material on the sewing machine operated by Shea, whose official title is “sewboticist.”
Many of tomorrow’s robots may have more in common with beanbag chairs and bouncy houses than the hulking industrial arms in factories today. Breakthroughs in the nascent field of soft robotics, in which steel skeletons and power-hungry motors make way for textiles, are beginning to move from the laboratory to the startup world.
The Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) developed a control algorithm enabling Boston Dynamics’ Atlas humanoid robot to walk across a short stretch of rocky terrain. It’s much harder than you might think. “After each step the robot explores the new foothold by shifting its weight around its foot,” IMHC explains. “To maintain […]
German sculptor Daniel Kühn created the “Light & Cigarette Machine,” which plays Candide while lighting and extending a cigarette; it was later owned by Leonard Bernstein, and was auctioned off to a German collector after his death.
The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype. This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]