A Robot Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

My initial reaction to this robot was that it was kind of silly.  It reminded me of a robotic Flowbee.  And the sales pitch voiceover in the video made me wonder of Godzilla might come crashing through the roof.  But this robot really is a piece of quality engineering.  Imagine designing a robotic system that touches a human being.  That’s not a trivial design.  Add to that the need to touch a human head, while the human is in a vulnerable position, and cleaning something as tangly as hair (yeah I know tangly’s not a word, but this is the internet, anything goes).   Then you have to design it for the variety of human head sizes, and hair lengths.  All-in-all this is a difficult problem to solve, and a pretty substantial feat of engineering.  Not sure the case was made for why I shouldn’t just wash my own hair, .

Robots in your blood stream

In the story linked below an engineering professor discusses creating electronics small enough to travel through the blood stream.  The prototype is not really very small as far as electronic things go.  It looks to be a single IC on a 3mm x 4mm PCB,  so the story is a bit on the vaporware side of things. But the idea of powering small electronic devices with electromagnetic fields is interesting. This is how some early RFID tag (radio frequency identification) systems were designed to work.  You move the RFID through an energized loop antenna (for example something around the perimeter of a warehouse door) and the field creates electron flow in a small antenna on the RFID.  This powers the RFID and initiates an exchange of information again using the antennae.

The idea always struck me as elegant, in part because no battery was on the RFID tag.  You can imagine the RFID connected to products or pallets moving through a factory, and the location or assembly state being reported to a central database whenever the tag moves through a portal.  Trucks, boats, and cargo aircraft could be configured to read the RFID tags.  I’m sure technology has changed quite a bit, and I’m also sure companies like UPS and FedEx have figured out better ways to do this (bar codes Smile).  But I still fancy the idea.

Anyway here’s the story, if you are also intrigued..
http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/04/04/scientists-working-device-to-travel-through-bloodstream/