Vestfyn Aikikai – going to Japan

Vestfyn Aikikai – going to Japan

Well.. I finally scraped enough money together to pay for my bi-annual trip to Japan. This time with Aikido as the main purpose, as it has been before – yet never to this extend.

Previously I have been a student in other dojo’s and when I went there in 2009 it was strictly business. The same in 2011, but this time – I am actually the dojo-cho of Vestfyn Aikikai, and to my good fortune I even managed to convince one of my students to tag along. He is a 3. kyu and very hooked on aikido, and I look forward to introducing him to a row of great senseis over there.


Aikido on west Fuen

This just to toot my own horn. A year ago now I have started a dojo in my hometown of Vissenbjerg on Vestfyn (West Fuen). The name of the dojo is Vestfyn Aikikai. We practice Nishio style Aikido, aiki toho, ken-tai-ken and ken-tai-jo.

Read more about here: www.vestfynaikikai.dk or on our Facebook group.


it’s the season…

Ho ho ho… who wouldn’t want a robot under the christmas tree this year? I know at least a handful of different ‘bots’ that I would enjoy unwrapping, and no.. the Roxxxy is NOT one of them. Frank Tobe from The Robot Report has assumed the holliday spirit and have created a list of robot-presents for all the members of the family… He suggests:

The Robot Report’s 2010 Robotic Xmas Gifts Picks List:

… For all ages: Parrot’s AR.Drone iPhone-controlled quadcopter.
… For Mom: a robotic vacuum from Neato or iRobot.
… For Dad: the adaptive cruise control option for his new car.
… For Grandparents and their grandkids: Pleo, the baby dinosaur.
… For little kids: Zhu Zhu pets.
… For pre-teen boys: RoboRaptor.
… For pre-teen girls: Bossa Nova’s Penbo robot and her baby Bebe.
… For robotically-interested 10 yo and older: LEGO Mindstorm robot kit.

I highly recommend you subscribe to his newsletter if you are interested in robot technology. Mr. Tobe has quite a lot of experience with robots, and his newsletter is alway interesting to read.


A little lower please…

One of the few perks of being hospitalized is the sponge baths by beautiful nurses… I admit I have never tried it myself, but maybe that makes the thought even more appeling.

Now I could understand if a japanese company would come up with a sponge bath giving robot, since a lot of japanese people can be a little shy, but the americans came first. Georgia Institute of Technology have developed ‘a robot nurse’ that can give you a sponge bath. Compared to the airflow robot shower that will wash you all over with steam, soap and water, this is a probably further away from being used in real life, since the robot is able to wash the area of the patient pointed out by the operator… later it will probably be able to decide what parts to wash – or it could be equipped with an interface (eg. by speech recognition) so that you could control it yourself. Then I can see some real scenarious for use in daily life…. and the vivid imagination can think of other applications, but we will leave that to the more dubious companies in the robotics industry.

Read more about the sponge-o-bot at gizmag by clicking the picture.


First part of the elephant is ready

Well… Festo is by far one of THE coolest robot inventing companies in the world. They have made loads of erally cool projects – including air sting ray and artificial penguins able to swim and … yes… fly…

Now they have obviously started out creating a robot elephant.. they just start out with the part that is most likely to be usefull in other applications.. the front tail… aka the Trunk. Actually they call it a robot arm, but it is so much inspired by the trunk, that it is obvious where they get their inspiration from. It still lacks a bit in precision as far as I can judge from the videos on YouTube, but it has definate potential.

The project seems to lend some inspiration from the VGT projects like the one performed at the RoboLab at University of Southern Denmark. Click here to read more about it.

To see more of this new project from FESTO go to Youtube and search for Bionic handling Assistant.. (or simply click this link)


coffee lends me a hand… litterally

I have seen many research projects concerned with how to create a gripping technology like an arUniversal gripper 2tificial hand. It is extremely difficult to do so. Tendrons, sense of feeling and many other factors needs to be taken into account before you can handle something without destroying it.

Sometimes though… there is a much simpler soloution. At Cornell University two guys have created a gripper, that can grap most things that the human hand can grab.. and it is made from… coffee… that is coffee grounds, a balloon and a vaccum pump. Stock items in most households… well at least two out three should be.

I t works by having the coffee wrap itself around the item you wish to pick up, and then remove the air in the balloon. Thereby causing the coffee grounds to become a solid structure instead of a semi liquid material. It is so simple it is close to genious.

In a previous post I wrote about a sweedish guy who had a robot hand as a replacement for his real hand which was destroyed in an accident… maybe in a not so distant future we can have prostetic hands build on this principle… that would be very practical, cheap and faster to implement – albeit not quite as pleasing to the eye. Nothing is said regarding the color of the balloon though, so you could choose a color that goes well with your outfit…


Denmark and Japan closer after personal initiative

A contact of mine in Japan has created a great initiative. Naoya Segawa is one of the few japanese people I have meet who is fluent in Danish. He was kind enough to show me and some colleagues around in Kyoto in 2009, and we had a great day with many good experiences.

He wishes to tie closer relations between Japanese people and the country of Denmark, and I can only encourage this. If japanese people will be as fascinated about Denmark as I am about Japan, then there is great possibilties for us to learn from each other.

Read more about this initiative here: http://smile-isles.com/da/welcome.html 

Japan-Denmark relations organisation

Japan-Denmark relations organisation


Next gen exo on the market

After I went to Japan about a year ago, I was phoned several times from people who had read an article about the HAL exo scheleton that my travel companions and I saw at Daiwa House in Japan. Most of these asked if I could tell them wether it was for sale in DK, what the price was, and if it could be helpful for them. Sadly I am not a doctor, so I am not qualified to judge each persons condition vis-a-vis the possible use of a HAL. Most of these people were paralysed for one of several reasons.. car accidents, schlerosis and other sad stories. Unfortunately most of the exo scheletons I had seen at the time were created to add extra power to the user, but relied on the user being able to move around to a certain extend by their own power.

Now it seems the next generation of exoscheletons are on their way. On Gizmag you can read about the Berkeley Bionic’s research in this tech which will allow the user to walk even if their own legs can provide any support. This might be great news for a whole new specter of people currently tied to a wheelchair or a bed. I cross my fingers and hope this will be one of those breakthroughs that will prove how robot technology makes our lives better. Click here to read more.

A similar trend is found (also at Gizmag) in the REX which is a sort of a blend between a segway, a pair of stilts and an exoscheleton… or more presicely.. a wheelchair with legs instead of wheels… a leg chair or a biped wheelchair… or something. There is no name for it yet in the common language, but there will likely soon be. This contraption is steered by a joystick but walcks around instead of having the user in a wheelchair. A bit clumsy still, but the potential is immense. In a few years we can only hope that the loss of function in our legs will not be the restraining factor it is today.


BP needs robots

Well.. some people my argue that key elements in the BP management must be like robots with a very cool and uncaring mindset. But that’s not the only way BP can benefit from Robots. The tedious task of collecting all the oil spill from this summers giant accident could for example be done by a herd of self-organizing robots equipped with a susbtance able to bind to the oil and thereby ‘eating’ it from the surface.

Now if we could only teach it to go and fetch the german tourists when they float to open sea on their air matresses…

Read more about this robot by clicking on the picture.


Two latte, a green tea.. four bananas and a blowdryer??

One of the things from Japan that really stands out in my memory is not the shrines or the funky clothes people wear… it is the noumerous vending machines making cold (and now hot) coffee available on allmost every corner or train platform. I rapidly got addicted to a small blue can of Mountain Blue coffee spiked with loads of cream and sugar… the caffein/sugar kick was highly addictive… From my first to my second visit to Japan they introduced hot cans as well, and now they have gone even further.. as you can see in this article on CScout and this article on the same page. One can only guess what will be next… pets spring to mind… or perhaps robots?