The Future is Now at Intel - CTTEC - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Future is Now at Intel

Intel labs wheeled out it's newest and coolest inventions last Tuesday at their Open House. 

Scratch that—the inventions wheeled themselves out for presentation.

Intel labs, located within the Carnegie Mellon University campus, showcased more than twenty different projects currently in the works.

Imagine the house of the future, with everything controlled by your smart phone and with robots expediently carrying out orders, and you'll be close to the vision that Intel is pursuing.

With the rapid evolution of smart phones, Intel has most recently developed the X-House. This invention allows users with Android-based phones to control almost every aspect of their house from lamps, locks, TVs, speakers and even cameras. The device is tailored to work with only the user's home through a secure login.

Lost in Space?

The first robot on the scene was Cobot2, which looks like something out of the show 'Lost in Space.' Its thin frame supports the computer mounted on top that serves a variety of different purposes. Newly developed this summer, it had already hopped on the Steeler bandwagon with it's terrible towel attached.

"The CoBot2 is a longtime experiment to see what we can get working with humans in an indoor environment," says Joydeep Biswas, a PhD student at CMU and one of its developers.

An example of this would be remotely attending an event through the eyes of the robot, or Telepresence as Biswas aptly called it. With a guided camera sending out 2,700 rays it can detect almost everything surrounding it. What it can't detect, it picks up with the help of clustered dots spread intermittently throughout the ceiling, which serve as a map for it.

Sometimes the CoBot2 roamed freely while other times users directed it elsewhere to peruse the other exhibits.

The bow tie adorning it is appropriate, as it will poliitley offer up phrases such as 'excuse me,' to awed--and charmed--spectators in its way.

The main attraction Tuesday, though, was HERB, the Home Exploring Robot Butler. A much bulkier robot sporting two arms, a Segway frame and small spinning laser head, HERB stopped traffic by delivering drinks to passersby and even recycling the empty bottles. At one point, HERB reacted when someone handed him back a bottle with fluid still in it. Herb informed the befuddled person of the problem, but thankfully HERB was in good spirits, as any good butler should be, and set it back on the table for later consumption. Robots, HERB demonstrates, can be quite cooperative.

Dmitry Berenson, one of HERB's developers, explains its mission. "We created HERB to help people do simple tasks, manipulate objects, open doors and clean up. It does this all automatically, not with someone sitting and pushing a button."

Motivated by their work with the Quality of Life Technology Center for elderly people, Berenson stated that the goal of HERB was to help senior citizens be more independent in their households.

Berenson, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, said it took four years to get to this point. They started with just a robot arm on a table. Eventually HERB gained a stylish Segway, another arm and a spiraling laser for guidance. The laser detects and maps out everything around it, similar to a dolpin's sonar. With one swivel, the laser picked up everyone standing around it, as their frames and surroundings were projected onto a screen.

Other projects included the automatic digital enhancement of photos (coming soon to a computer near you!), Connected Home 2020 (better linking the digital items together within the wireless household), and a machine that performs some ophthalmology tasks "comparable to experts.

Intel Labs Pittsburgh, which opened in 2002, is a national model for industry-university research at Carnegie Mellon University. It's pioneered by Intel to accelerate long-term, cutting-edge research to better benefit everyday life. 

"Intel Labs Pittsburgh was proud to host over 700 people at our annual showcase," says Priya Narasimhan, the fourth Director of Intel Labs, a position that rotates among faculty every three years. "We displayed our breakthroughts in computational agriculture, brain-computer interfaces, cloud computing, robotics, computational healthcare, machine learning and more."

Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon are very fortunate to have it.

Article Courtesy of Pop City