Health and Wellness Robots/Drones

Pillo lets you rest easy about taking your pills

Forgetting to take one’s pills can lead to major health problems, especially when those medications are for life-threatening health issues including heart disease.

patent-claimedPillo is a connected pill-dispensing robot that recognizes individuals in the family and helps people of all ages to better manage their health. In addition to dispensing medication, it can answer users’ health and wellness questions and connect a person directly with healthcare professionals. Because Pillo has been designed to be intelligent, its functionalities grow as it learns about the user and his or her family.

Cell Phone Accessories

Indi robotic dock waves arms to signal you have a phone call

The problem with putting a mobile phone in vibrate mode is that the user will often miss an important call, especially when the phone is kept on a desk at work and there is no way to feel or hear the vibration. The Indi robotic phone dock from a U.K. inventor is attempting to resolve that issue.

The dock has a set of robotic arms that signal when a phone call is coming in. The device consists of a docking unit containing an Arduino micro-controller and an app that users will be prompted to download the first time they plug it into a phone. Initially, the device will only support Android phones, but iPhone support is on its way. Backers who pledge £35 (~$53) will get one when it ships in May as part of an early bird discount deal on its Kickstarter campaign. Indi’s maker is hoping to raise £2,500 (~$3,800).

Indi is a clever spin on the traditional phone dock. It could be especially useful to hard-of-hearing smartphone users. But one inherent drawback is that it is only useful when the user is stationary. Even then, however, if the user is busy, it is possible that person won’t see the small robotic dock’s arms moving when a phone call comes in.

Home Technology

The Remote Snow Plow and Blower gets the yearly snowpocalypse under control

Winter is a drag. If people aren’t sad from the darkness and cold winds howling outdoors, the constant snow storms will frustrate them on the mornings when their car is buried under several feet of snow. Having to wake up early in the morning and gear up only to dig out a driveway or a parked car makes most wish they had a robot to do it for them. Luckily, those desperate pleas were answered by the folks at SuperDroid Robots and have resulted in a monster of a solutions.

The company’s Remote Snow Plow and Snow Blower are two 3/16 thick welded aluminum tanks that run 4HP motors that treat snow in exactly the same way people feel towards it during those blustery winter mornings. RC controllers allow users to stay inside and wrapped up in cozy, warm blankets while the plow or the blower goes to town on the snow outside. No matter which way backers choose to deal with the snow outside, they can begin the day assured that their feet won’t completely freeze over even before their morning walk. An unassembled Snow Plow includes all of the components for self-assembly and goes for $5,700, while an unassembled Snow Blower goes for $6,200. A fully assembled Snow Plow or Blower goes for $7,200 or $8,500, respectively. All are expected to be shipped in October of 2015 provided the campaign reaches its $60,000 goal.

Both of the robots are terrifying in the best way possible, offering the possibility of complete snow annihilation from the comfort of one’s hot chocolate, but are incredibly heavy and pretty expensive. To fully prepare for the winter, a Snow Guard can be used to protect your car from overnight frost while a pair of Digitsoles can keep feet warm when socks won’t do. All this together would make anyone a rugged winter warrior.

Connected Objects Pets

Mousr robotic mouse prepares cats to ignore robot apocalypse

The extent to which pet owners go out of their way to ensure their pet is comfortable and entertained in the face of eight or more hours of being alone at home is impressive. Every year, the industry innovates new toys and tech to keep tails wagging and paws pawing. Usually, though, dogs get all the fun stuff, like dispensers that challenge them with puzzles for treats. Cats haven’t had much luck, until now.

Mousr is exactly what a cat owner is looking for. The jury is still out on the cat itself, but from the videos posted on the campaign site, it looks like this miniature robotic mouse is nothing but a good time. Mousr has been engineered with the idea of reacting to a cat’s movements rather than forcing a cat to react, thereby engaging the feline’s predatory instincts. Most importantly, it constantly challenges the cat through its continuous learning, so no two hunting escapades are the same. Interchangeable tails give your feline friend different targets and keeps their interest piqued, and a Bluetooth LE compatible smartphone app will even let an owner get in on the furry fun, just make sure you don’t have a really thick carpet as Mousr probably won’t work too well when it’s stuck. The Mousr unit costs $140 with an estimated delivery date of October 2015. The campaign is looking for $100,000 to get this out to all those crazy cat owners everywhere.

Tech Accessories

Pocket Printer uses robotics to finally allow printing on the go

editors-choiceThe Premise. Everything is mobile now, as phones and tablets are capable of doing almost everything a desktop computer can accomplish — everything except print, that is. Though these devices certainly can print, most people don’t want to lug a big desktop printer around with them for documents. Portable options to date — at least those for a full-page — haven’t been all that portable.

The Product. The ZUtA Pocket Printer offers grayscale printing that lives up to its name in terms of size. The way the printer works is rather ingenious; one sets it upon the page and running along it robotically to print as it moves. Because of this design, the Pocket Printer can sync wirelessly to any phone, tablet, or laptop, and can print on paper of any dimensions. With a USB-rechargeable battery, the Pocket Printer can print for up to an hour on one charge and the inkjet lasts for over 1,000 pages.

The Pitch. Seeing the prototype of the ZUtA Pocket Printer in action is more like a proof of concept than a finished product. The barebones robot slowly slides its way across the page at a rate that’s a little difficult to watch, but the people behind the product are confident that by the time it releases it will perform much closer to people’s expectations of what a printer should do. For those interested in the how of this little device, the campaign photos do a great job of explaining the design and functionality of the Pocket Printer. ZUtA needs to raise $400,000 to complete prototyping and manufacturing.

The Perks. The Mars Black Pocket Printer is available for $200 and is expected to launch at the start of next year. Those who want the Titanium White model or a special Kickstarter-branded variant will have to pay a little extra, but will still get their product at the same time.

The Potential. In the campaign video, the designers mention that their target is to get the production model to print at a rate of a page per minute. That may not sound like much after we’ve all been spoiled by laser printers, but to have a device that small handle printing from any location, a minute per page is extremely reasonable. It may not actually fit in your pocket (at least your jeans pocket), but this approach to the issue of mobile printing makes a lot of sense and may draw in people for the novelty factor before a future generation holds broader appeal.