Robots are seemingly everywhere at one of the world’s largest tech trade fairs from serving drinks to driverless cars, new green solutions, screens that can “read” your feelings, smart museums and much more at the “City of the Future” Cebit trade fair in Hanover, Germany.
10 years ago, most of what’s on display here would be considered far-out crazy science fiction or an expensive gimmick, and whilst much of the technology is not ready for release, the developers can at least show off the working prototypes.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology is at Cebit exhibiting live demonstrations of a system that completely harmonises and links cars and traffic lights. It’s designed to reduce accidents through forcing cars to slow before the lights change red and according to the Institute it will begin to be rolled out within 5 years. The technology can also be used to allow your car to navigate to your exact location if, for example, it’s parked somewhere too far away to warrant walking (i.e, you really can’t be bothered to get your car)
In another stand nearby, the German Robotics Innovation Centre has a vehicle that can shrink to get into all those annoyingly small parking spaces.
The ‘EO Smart Connecting Car’ (Only the Germans would come up with such a name!) is so small by completely ditching the need for an engine in the usual front or back. The designers have cleverly installed four tiny engines in each of the four wheels.
Upon parking, the Connecting Car will literally fold up and then join up to other Connecting Cars to save space and energy. With new developing technology, vehicles of the future can mechanically and electrically dock together to sync data and power from one vehicle to another.
In effect, you could have a ‘train’ of cars all joined up and driving in a slipstream to reduce traffic jams and energy use.
Robots Like To Pole-Dance?
A singing “Robothespian” is getting quite a bit of attention at Cebit for its love of pole dancing and singing. The British artist, Giles Walker, who designed it, proclaimed it was being marketed as an educational guide, with all the robots linked via a cloud so they can share newly learned educational information – or new pole dancing tricks, one or the other. Those with a robo-fetish of sorts will have to fork out 30,000 Euros unfortunately, certainly not an expensive gimmick.
The Karlsruhe Institute Armar robots offered a slightly more civilised version, one dedicated to carrying out those tedious domestic chores. The robots have a sensitive grip so it can pick up items, such as food, without juicing them first. More commonly with technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly, and this robot is no exception as its able to learn how to carry out various tasks from its owner like emptying a dishwasher and putting dishes back in the right place.
The Face Finder
Project IT2Green, which has already attracted government funding, is designed to transfer data from company or government servers straight to their employee’s computers faster than you can find the best credit card balance transfer. A lot of the work went into ensuring that the connection was secure to avoid data theft and will begin use in less than 2 years time.
Another technology on offer by the same project is one able to virtually “read” your face. A camera films subtle expressions on your face then pumps these into insanely complex algorithms to work out your age, sex and your mood. The software behind this, ‘Shore,’ is unlike any other in that it can cope with many more environmental changes such as light, background images etc, resulting in apparently freakishly accurate results. After a long 8 years of development and tweaking, one its creator said that it can differentiate between individuals.
“Even if someone were to leave the camera’s field of vision they can still be recognised later,” said Tobias Ruf.
There’s so much more on offer at Cebit, some more useful than others, particularly on the software front that will no doubt be integrated without many of us realising it. Have a quick look on Cebit’s if you can and you’re bound to discover something to your taste, there’s literally hundreds of weird and wonderful tech on offer, and hopefully we’ll see some of this in the everyday world soon….especially the pole dancing robots.None found.