While we can counter the deterioration of sight and hearing with glasses and hearing aids, few tools exist for combating a degenerating sense of touch. A common ailment among stroke patients and the aging, treating diminishing tactile perception has proven a complicated task. Looking to provide a wearable solution unimposing enough for everyday use, a research team from Germany's Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) is developing a stimulation glove designed to be worn passively to alleviate such impairments. Read More

The tying of shoelaces may not be the most difficult thing that most of us do each day, but that nonetheless hasn't stopped people from inventing no-tie shoelace systems. One of the latest, Shnap + Laces, has the user just snap the ends of their laces onto the tops of their shoes. Read More

At the recent Chicago Automate 2013 show of automation and robotics, Yaskawa Motoman drew huge crowds to watch its SDA10F double-armed robot deal blackjack for three players. The two-armed bandit not only deals cards, but can read the cards dealt, and play according to the rules of blackjack. The level of dexterity, along with the robot's vision recognition camera and software, wowed the throngs attending the show. Read More
It's often during those early stages of learning to play a new instrument that many people give up in despair. Even though you swear that you're hitting the right notes, everything still sounds like an old gramophone recording played at the wrong speed. If only you could let someone take control of your hands to fast forward through the arduous repetition phase before muscle memory kicks in and the piece you're trying to play begins to sound more like it should. That's precisely the kind of potential offered by the PossessedHand project. Electrode-packing armbands placed on a user's forearm send electrical pulses through the muscles to take control of the movement of the hand - with fledgling Koto players testing the system having demonstrated greater accuracy and speedier progress. Read More
A prize of US$200,000 is being offered for the first robot that can successfully move 10 km (6.2 miles) within 10,000 seconds. Sound easy? Well, to claim the “W” Prize the robot must also negotiate four sets of obstacles that would stand in the way of ordinary wheeled vehicles, but could be easily overcome by a pedestrian. The robot must also accomplish this task using no more than 10 kj per kg of machine mass – in other words, less energy than it would take for a human to do the same task. Read More
Japan, like many other countries, faces a rapidly aging population sparking concerns about how the elderly will be cared for in their twilight years. Japan being Japan has turned to robotics with researchers developing robots to assist the elderly with everything from exercise and independent living to shopping. Twendy-One is the latest robotic helper to join the fray designed to support aging people in their daily activities. Read More
Don't watch the video after the jump if you've recently seen a Terminator movie - because it's becoming clear that if the robots come after us, there'll be no stopping them. The video shows an incredible array of three-fingered robot hand/eye co-ordination exercises, including throwing and catching, spinning pens, tying knots and dribbling a ping-pong ball. The Ishikawa Komuro laboratory at the University of Tokyo put these videos together to demonstrate the incredibly quick parallel processing they are achieving with a mix of visual and tactile sensory inputs. Astounding stuff. Sarah Connor, you're in deep trouble. Read More