Japan Expo: Robots Fold Laundry, Plus Indoor Rain

Dennis Faas's picture

As part of the Japanese Science and Technology Agency's "Erato" project, students at Keio University have created a robot designed to alleviate the burden of performing one specific household chore: folding the laundry.

Visitors at the Digital Contents Expo in Tokyo were greeted with a plethora of new tech-based innovations this year. The exhibitors demonstrated ideas that were necessary, practical and futuristic.

Foldy the Robot Folder

For example, "Foldy" the robot works with a camera mounted above a flat surface, like an ironing board. A person comes along and places an article of clothing on the surface where its image is captured and displayed on a PC. The person then draws digital fold lines onto the computerized image of the clothing piece and, with the click of a button, the robot does the actual folding. (Source: mis-asia.com)

Foldy is about the size of a shoebox and comes with two exterior grippers that are used for folding. The robot also contains a 2D barcode that sits on top of the mechanism, allowing the PC to control and monitor its actions through the camera.

Petting Virtual Pets on the PC

The Digital Contents Expo also showcased an exhibit that allows for user interaction with a virtual pet. The "animal" (in the case, a small bear) could be "touched" with the help of a special ring.

Once the ring is worn, the user sits in front of a PC and the virtual animal appears. The user is able to virtually "touch" the bear with the help of two Wii remote controls that act as sensors and monitor infrared lamps on the ring to help determine its position. (Source: computerworld.com)

When the user is about to pet the virtual animal, the ring makes a vibration which simulates the touching sensation.

Rain Indoors with Funbrella

Students at the University of Osaka have created the "Funbrella", an umbrella with a mounted speaker inside at the point where the handle connects to the canopy. Through speaker vibrations, the "Funbrella" is able to simulate the sound and feel of holding an umbrella during a rainstorm.

The students also demonstrated unusual weather conditions, like "spaghetti rain" and "rubber snake rain". The purpose: each time a piece of spaghetti or rubber snake "hit" the top of the umbrella, a loud thud sound/sensation was felt by the individual holding the umbrella.

There was no mention if any of the concepts displayed at the Digital Contents Expo have plans for production.

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