Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.
Playing a bit like a computer version of Lego, Mojang's Minecraft
– the darling of the indie game movement – has been an impressive success story. It soared to mainstream popularity as intrepid players proudly showcased their elaborate creations online. Its similarity to Lego didn't go unnoticed by the toy giant, and in 2012 kids of all ages could enjoy the game AFK with a licensed brick set
. The problem is, you'd need an awful lot of bricks to recreate what you can make in the game (for example, check out this version of Game of Thrones' King's Landing
), so that's where Printcraft – and the magic of 3D printing – enters the picture.
With one in five Japanese citizens now aged 65 or older, various robotics technologies are being developed to prolong independent living and improve quality of life at home. The main alternative to nursing homes and hospitals would be smart homes designed around the needs of the elderly. Earlier this week, Honda announced that it will test some of its life support robots in a mock household environment at the Future Life Showroom, in Sekisui House's brand new SUMUFUMU Lab.
The need for true-to-life digital objects is accelerating as visual effects studios outbid themselves into bankruptcy, game studios build increasingly realistic AAA titles, and the art world begins to digitally preserve priceless artifacts
for future generations. A 3D scanner can generate digital models of real world objects quickly and easily, and that's where Creaform's Go!SCAN 3D finds its niche.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) is the method of choice for the next generation of personal 3D printers. The DLP process prints objects with a very fine resolution that surpasses that of typical Fused Filament Fabrication (RepRap) printers which extrude molten plastic layer by layer. An Italian company called Robot Factory has created the latest prosumer printer. If judged by appearances alone, the 3DLPrinter would be one of the more attractive 3D printers we've seen – but can it measure up to its competition?
In a rare and brilliant move, Akihiro Hino (president of Japanese game developer Level-5) somehow convinced Studio Ghibli – Japan's most respected animation studio – to collaborate on a new video game. Even if Studio Ghibli's Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki has been a vocal critic of the medium (nixing the possibility of his films being adapted to game consoles), and was not directly involved with Level-5's Ni no Kuni
, it seems some of his magic still managed to rub off on it.
Kids these days have it made. Case in point: Sakakibara-Kikai's latest creation, the Kidswalker NT, a miniature gasoline-powered exoskeleton that wouldn't look out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon. The original Kidswalker
, unveiled in 2010, was designed to placate youngsters who demanded a ride in the company's much larger (and potentially more dangerous) Landwalker
. As cool as it was, the Kidswalker has now been upgraded with additional features.
South Korea's Cheongdo county is home to a famous bullfighting festival, but like many pastoral traditions its popularity has been waning over the years. What better way to modernize its image and attract some tourists than with some crazy robots? A team from the Korea Institute of Robot and Convergence
was tasked with developing them, and now a year and five months later – and a budget of US$400,000 – the robots have been unveiled to the public.
While 3D printers are gradually becoming more popular, their possibilities are limited if you lack the skills to create custom 3D models. This has led to a surge in the development of user-friendly 3D software, as well as affordable 3D scanners that can digitize real world objects. Matterform's Photon 3D scanner is the latest and most affordable example to be launched via a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Back in late 2009 Boston Dynamics revealed it was working on a humanoid robot that would test protective clothing for the military. Having already amazed the world three years earlier with the lifelike balancing capabilities of its quadruped BigDog
, this would be the company's first bipedal robot. It was an ambitious project, but it appears the work has paid off. The robot's eerily realistic body movements are made all the more convincing now that its mechanical nature is hidden by a chemical protection suit.
With so many personal 3D printers hitting the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Over the years we've seen plenty of attractive options, but few have matched the price-performance of the B9Creator, a Digital Light Processing (DLP) projector-based 3D printer that was created by Michael Joyce of South Dakota. After a successful crowd-funding campaign last year (where the original B9Creator was launched to the tune of more than US$500,000), he's back with an upgraded kit that irons out some of its issues.