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Automation

It was three years ago that we first heard about Rethink Robotics' Baxter industrial robot. Priced at US$22,000 and requiring no programming expertise on the part of its users, it was intended to bring robotic automation to manufacturers who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Now, Rethink has announced the more compact and agile Sawyer robot. Read More
The synthesis of complex small molecules in the laboratory is specialized and intricate work that is both difficult and time-consuming. Even highly-trained chemists can take many years to determine how to build each one, let alone discover and describe its functions. In an attempt to improve this situation, a team of chemists at the University of Illinois claim to have created a machine that is able to assemble a vast range of complex molecules at the push of a button. Read More
You only need look as far as the Raspberry Pi to know that a huge number of people are passionate about DIY electronics, and a new kit called MESH (Make, Experience, Share) is intended to make coming up with your own clever projects easier than ever. From customized alarm clocks to trash cans that thank you for recycling, it's claimed to open up a host of possibilities for amateur inventors. Read More
If you're looking to smarten up your locks to make your home more secure, then you're not exactly short of options. While all these products are aimed at offering better-connected home security, is fumbling through your phone for an app much more convenient that fumbling through your pocket for your keys? The makers of Sesame say smart locks could be a little more intuitive, and have developed a solution that, among other things, recognizes secret knocks to open up your door. Read More
We've reported on a number of homes that can be controlled from inside or afar by smartphone, including the El Refugio Inteligente and Schoolmasters houses. The recently-completed W.I.N.D. House, by Dutch firm UNStudio, is another such example, and the high-end residence also sports sustainable technology that reduces its dependence on the grid. Read More
Though we've covered lots of Passive Houses, a project in Stuttgart, Germany, claims to be the "first fully functional Active House in the world." Aktivhaus B10 is said to use "active measures" such as self-learning and automation to improve its energy performance. Read More
New York startup Robotbase is turning to Kickstarter to build a highly ambitious robot that would serve as a smart personal assistant for your home. Referred to simply as "Personal Robot," this device is set to combine image recognition, natural language comprehension and other advances in artificial intelligence into a single device that can converse with you, serve as a personal stylist, and even tell bedtime stories to your kids. Read More
Necessary evils though they are, changing strings and tuning up have got to be two of the most boring and/or tiresome guitar-related tasks around. Band Industries offered a helping hand in November 2013 when a crowdfunding campaign was launched to bring an app-controlled motorized tuner named Roadie to market. The campaign was successful and the handheld robotic tuner recently became available to buy. Gizmag nabbed one of the first commercial units off the production line and has been whizzing and whirring away with gusto ever since. Read More

Nest Labs has added integrated support for Automatic's Connected Car Adapter to its smart thermostat. The partnership will enable those that own both devices to program the climate of their home based on the location of their vehicle. Read More

One thing that is guaranteed to put a naval ship commander in front of a court martial is running aground. Unfortunately, despite all the advances in satellite technology and other aids, navigation is still as much an art as a science – and a very time-consuming one at that, with it taking days and sometimes weeks to chart out a mission. To free up captains and reduce their chances of having to answer awkward questions, the US Navy is introducing a new automated navigation planning system into its surface fleet that speeds up course planning and reduces the chance of human error. Read More
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