5 Interesting Bots That You Should Know

Earlier this month, the Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics released a video of its humanoid robot running through a forest. The RoboCop-type bot, named Atlas, freaked out some people, but the footage also had some tech geeks cheering.

A bot that can run over rough, outdoor terrain is a big deal in robotics, a field in which researchers are constantly working to develop machines capable of moving around outside the lab. Boston Dynamics has a handful of bots that run just as well as Atlas, and researchers from other institutions are also building machines that can ramble about in the real world.


From fish-inspired bots that can swim under ships, to canine-like machines that can gallop up hills, here are five of the coolest, most capable robots out there:


  1. Atlas unleashed

The Atlas robot was used by several of the finalists who competed in the DRC in June, including the Florida-based team that came in second place and the sixth place team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though Atlas is a pretty good runner, the bot has room for improvement, according to Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics’ founder and a former professor at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University. (CMU).


  1. Snakes on an (inclined) plain

To build robots capable of sliding into small spaces and slithering over rocky terrain, researchers at CMU turned to snakes for inspiration. The modular snake robots created by CMU researchers can move their bodies in ways that humanoid robots would find troublesome. They crawl, they climb and some can even swim. But there was one thing that “snake bots” couldn’t do very well until recently: climb up sandy slopes. The snake bot can now slither over sand just as well as it can move across dirt. The new-and-improved bot is now an even more promising robot for future search-and-rescue missions.


  1. Man’s best robot friend

There are a lot of robots out there that could pass as pets, but how about a giant, mechanical dog? That’s how much Spot, Boston Dynamics’ newest, canine-inspired robot weighs. Spot can jog up and down hills, navigate through trees and keep its footing on uneven terrain. And the robot has siblings. Spot’s oldest brother, BigDog, is huge. And another Boston Dynamics four-legged bot, the LS3 robot, is just as big as BigDog, but it’s a bit faster and quieter, making it a better tool for soldiers and others who need discreet mechanical “pets” to carry their gear.


  1. Mechanical kitties

Speaking of pets, cat lovers needn’t feel neglected by the apparent lack of feline-inspired robots; there are several catlike robots out there, and they all have special skills.


  1. Futuristic fish

Another MIT robot made waves, after it demonstrated its swimming skills in an online video. Designed to swim just like a real fish, the autonomous bot is super flexible and fast, enabling it to turn on a dime. It’s important for this robot to mimic a fish precisely because it was made to infiltrate schools of fish and collect environmental data that can be brought back to researchers. Part of the robot fish’s success is its soft body, which mimics the anatomy of a fine-boned fish.


What do you think of these new and improved robotics technology? Very cool right?!


Apple iOS 8 Review

Despite Apple claiming iOS 8 works on the iPhone 4s, iPad 2 and iPad mini, known as the 1st generation, well, I don’t advise updating them.  These devices use the aging A5 processor and are limited to 512MB of RAM. After updating my 4s, I found tasks like typing and switching between apps became sluggish. Plus Apple has had to axe Handoff for apps and AirDrop to get iOS 8 working on the older models, so you won’t get the best experience. If you’ve got an iOS device released in 2013 or beyond there shouldn’t be any problems as these products have 1GB RAM and faster processors.

Once you’ve got your hands on a device capable of running iOS 8 without stuttering, you’re in for a treat. Here are some of what you can expect:


  1. Default iOS keyboard is revamped

The iOS keyboard has always seemed primitive when compared the multitude of options on Android. iOS 8 introduces ‘QuickType’ – a keyboard with predictive text capabilities.  As you type, a small bar at the top of the keyboard displays three word suggestions you can tap in order to select the appropriate word. Initially, I found myself typing words out in full out of habit but using the predictive text option started to feel natural.


  1. MDM is beefed up

iOS 8 provides good security features for business users. The mobile device management (MDM) features in iOS 8 now allow admins to specify which apps are used to open documents downloaded via the Safari browser or the new iCloud Drive. They can now check the date of the most recent back-up to avoid overwriting important data or files, too. S/MIME encryption is available for individual messages, and it’s also possible to highlight emails from addresses outside your organisation.


  1. Mail app gets swipe gestures

The Mail app has been modified, with swiping gestures now allowing you to organise messages. Swiping right on a message marks it as unread, whereas a flick left allows you to flag an important message or delete it. I did find these gestures to be a sensitive, accidentally deleting emails when left-swiping too quickly. Another useful option is the ability to organise messages into ‘VIP threads’.


  1. Notifications are interactive

‘Notify Me’ tells iOS to display a notification as soon as you receive a reply to a particular email, and when you pull-down to display the notification you’ll see options allowing you to reply, or delete a message without needing to open the app.


  1. Safari gets cleaner look and more functions

The address bar and tabs are now hidden when on a page to give you an uncluttered view. You can restore the address bar and tabs whenever you want to by stroking down the page with a finger, and Safari on iOS now includes a sidebar, similar to the OS X version of Safari. This displays your reading list of stored articles and pages.


  1. Photos are easier to manage

As soon as you tap on the Search tool in the top-right corner of the screen you’ll see a list of photos taken close to your current location. You can also search by location name, date or album name. The last version of Photos was ideal for dealing with large photo libraries going back several years, so the improved search tools make a huge difference.


Overall, iOS 8 brought much needed improvements to the keyboard, notifications and web browsing. With Continuity, iCloud Drive and HealthKit all to look forward too, this will be the best iOS update to-date.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Review

My current favourite is the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, but they also happen to be the most expensive phones in the round-up.  I’ve been carrying the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge for a month now and that has given me enough time to really get to grips with the South Korean smartphone.


Arguably the number one smartphone currently on the market, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is close to mobile perfection. The curved screen is far from the revolutionary feature it’s marketed as but, if you can afford it, this is the phone to buy right now.


Performance is its greatest strength. The S6 Edge, running an octa-core Exynos 7420 chip and 3GB of RAM, is the fastest phone we’ve ever tested, bar none. It even leaves Snapdragon 810-powered handsets in the dust, and comes without any overheating issues too. If you use your smartphone for lengthy gaming sessions, there’s nothing better. Battery life could be improved, but it’s still easily good enough to last a day.


Fortunately, Samsung’s infamous design issues finally seem to have been consigned to the past. The S6 Edge, with its aluminium alloy frame and glass rear, is the most attractive of the South Korean firm’s phones, and is up there with the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9 in terms of looks. A fingerprint scanner is now built into the home button, and lets you unlock the phone and make purchases through Samsung Pay.


The 5.1-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 AMOLED display is a triumph too. It’s intensely sharp, offering great colour accuracy and deep blacks. It’s terrific for watching movies on. My only complaint is that the edges, which can be used for notifications and quick contact access, are prone to picking up glare. The 16-megapixel main camera is the best smartphone camera on the market, coming with OIS and the option to play with the finer points of photography far more than you usually would.


The use of wireless charging means that the perceived issue with the small battery has not been a problem for me in regular use because the S6 Edge lives on the charger. Have I noticed the lower capacity? Not in practice the S6 Edge has remained ‘full’ whenever I need it.


Travelling is a different issue, and at that point the smaller battery becomes evident. Within a few hours the issue started to prey on my mind and all the worries of battery management and always be charging returned. The Edge still made it through a full day without running out of charge, but with a lot of online work, photography, and image upload it was a close run thing on one occasion (hence the portable charger came out). As long as you can charge the S6 Edge overnight it does get through a working day if you give it a bait of care and attention which means no 3D gaming or buckets of video streaming.


I’d almost certainly go for the EDGE. I prefer the way it looks and when you’re talking about phones, when features and specs are the same, this is all that matters. EDGE all the way, for me!

What Is Technological Progress?

With so much technology being developed, I sometimes wonder about the intersection of technology and progress. Are we really achieving progress through technological innovation?

Are these examples of progress?

  • I observe people walking about with their heads down focused on texting or running apps on smartphones. I have witnessed people colliding with stationary and moving objects as well as near accidents with people walking into the path of moving vehicles.
  • A group of young people are sitting in a cafe or other venue texting with each other on smartphones. Is it not better for them to socialize in the physical world when they have the chance?
  • Smartphone usage while driving a car, either talking or texting.
  • Crackberry users of smartphones from RIM.


What about the notion that technology is supposed to return more leisure time to people? By now, that is pretty much myth. I do not know of many professions where people are actually working fewer hours due to the availability of technology.


How about us using our smartphones? If you own a smartphone and if you’re reading this then chances are you do. Then you’ll be all too aware of the nightly ritual of plugging in your mobile to charge it ready for the morning. Few of today’s top models can last more than a full day of steady use, with current lithium-ion technology struggling to keep pace with the growth in screen sizes and power requirements of our handsets.


But why is battery technology lagging and why doesn’t it seem to be getting any better? I’ve analysed the current state of the market to bring you the reasons why you have to charge your phone every night and how that could change over the next few years.


A very brief, simplified science lesson: the lithium-ion battery inside your phone isn’t fully lithium, and if it was, it would last a lot longer. Every battery has three main components: an electrolyte providing electrons, an anode discharging them, and a cathode receiving them.


Not really are we achieving progress with much lesser work because of technology but will also add up problems about batteries easily drained.


Anyhow, I still love technology. I love technology but I don’t know if my life’s been improved. Like everybody I spend a lot of time browsing my phone but equally I’m aware that’s kind of disgusting. I’ll go off on holiday with my partner and we are sitting on some amazing beach and she’s looking through Twitter. I always feel a bit sad, but I’m equally aware that I do that same thing.


It is apparent that technology has the potential to harm or enhance our social skills and social life. The key is to analyse how technology affects us socially. Do technologies help you build positive, meaningful relationships, or do technologies hinder this process? Are you better able to communicate, listen, and share because of the technologies in your life? Do you use technologies to improve your relationships and build new ones? Are you letting a few choice people know who you are and what you contribute to this world, or are you merely distracting yourself with shallow pursuits? Does technology increase or decrease your concern for others, your compassion for others, and your desire to serve them? Such are the critical questions regarding technology and social development.