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Toys

Highlights From Embedded Systems Conference 98

Tetravus writes "The Embedded Systems Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco is winding down. The finalists for this year's Best of Show include a Trek Style communicator that uses 802.11b, a home healthcare robot, and some crazy giant household remote."
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Highlights From Embedded Systems Conference

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    To clarify, the "crazy giant household remote" is the Phillips iPronto [slashdot.org]. Yeah, it's real CRAZY!

    Posted anon to avoid whoring
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have heard the word "Embedded" a little to much this year. Time to give these devices a new name.
  • A more useful article would have helped. I'm going up there in a few hours to look at PC104 boards.
  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:40PM (#5801020) Homepage Journal
    "when home healthcare robots attack" On VHS or DVD....
  • The Effect (Score:5, Funny)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:42PM (#5801037) Journal
    They better hope that their web server won some kind of a "best in show", because here we come!!
  • So amazing. (Score:3, Funny)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:43PM (#5801040) Journal
    In other news, The Segway Human Transporter + MaGIC Digital Guitar ensures that crippled rocks stars from 3 generations ago who can barely stand upright, such as the Rolling Stones and Ozzy Ozborne, continue a sure fire rock tour presence.

    Voice over IP?

    No way, wailing guitar solo over IP! Take that Cisco.
  • Thanks, I was getting tired of the lawyer, EULA, privacy, politics stuff. These gadets rock! I actually got excited about a Microsoft sewing machine (luckily I came to me sense and found the iPronto to be a much cooler device). The exercise bike is something I have been thinking about designing myself for a long time, to bad it was not just a USB device with speed inputs.
  • This feels really creepy... Years ago I was thinking about interfacing my parents' exercise bike with my computer (the bike has a serial port and sends out lots of data when you're pedaling). I figured you could have all sorts of motivational games and rendered landscapes to motivate your exercise... Now Microsoft has gone and done it.

    So I guess my dilemma is if I should applaud it or just conclude that it can't be safe to have an exercise bike running Winows XP ;)
  • Robust? I guess, so, at least until it hits those stairs...
    • Two things:

      This is Japan. Compact living spaces - not sprawling two-story and three-story homes.

      This is for home-bound elderly. Someone who can't climb stairs in their own home is not going to live in a home with stairs.

      • My point, I suppose, is that in general, home robots aren't ready for prime time just yet. For stairs, substitute things like loose carpeting, furniture with odd protrusions that get past the obstacle sensors, exceptionally steep door thresholds etc.

        Moreover, there are a number of similiar units being offered as "house sitters". While there may be something useful to the telepresence aspect, there is a lot less value even to this if the robot can't be made to do anything really useful remotely (like turn o

  • by Theodore Logan ( 139352 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:51PM (#5801132)
    The Segway was, according to tech gurus and investors worth billions of dollars, going to be one of the greatest inventions ever, on pair with the wheel and the fire. Eventually we would design cities to fit the needs of the Segway, and not the other way round, we were told.

    This was two years ago. Now that it's finally here it can't even claim the Best of Show prize at the Embedded Systems Conference, an honor that instead goes to some unheard of gizmo called the Vocera Communications badge, which appears to be nothing more than a wearable intercom telephone with built in voice recognition.

    Makes you wonder...
  • by confused philosopher ( 666299 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:52PM (#5801140) Homepage Journal
    "Trek Style communicator that uses 802.11b"

    Beam me up Scotty. What! You aren't Scotty? Why the hell are you on my network!
    • More like:

      "Beam me up Scotty"

      "I kinna do it cap'en. You be only 4 yards away you lazy yank!"

      Either that or Kirk's down on some planet pointing his pringles can around aimlessly hoping to find the enterprise.
    • This device will not be complete unless it comes with

      a). a transporter room and
      b). Dutiful redshirts who will either walk thoughtlessly into ambushes and traps for you or otherwise die hideous deaths for your amusement/benefit.

      Scotty, half-vulcans, and tribbles cost extra. Or you can pay more for the Snotty model. Just imagine the wife saying, "He beamed me twice last night! It was wonderful!"
  • Anyone notice the Wakamaru robot manuf'd by Mitsubishi looks just like some 1980s version of a robot from a cartoon, or some toy that I seem to recall, although the name escapes me. Apparently a big round clunky robot with yellow plastic case is going to be the personal assistant of the 21st century.

    I think the designers watched the Jetsons too much when they were children?
    • This robot is supposed to be for a much older generation. We're talking about senior citizens old enough to have trouble getting out and around. What is a 60-year old familiar with when it comes to household robots? Not at all the same thing as a techno-geek.

      (Also, seeing as technology is nowhere near giving us Chobits, Cyber-Dolls, and Seconds, any attempt to have a household robot look like that would fail dismally.)

  • As soon as you say "embedded" anything, Kevin Warwick [theregister.co.uk] (a.k.a. Captain Cyborg [theregister.co.uk]) shows up. I just can't take any more media whores [theregister.co.uk].
  • by The Kryptonian ( 617472 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:56PM (#5801176)
    The Vocera product is a Star Trek communicator! They even call their custom wireless TCP/IP protocol "Turbo Treck".

    This proves my thesis that the kids who grew up watching Star Trek twenty years ago are out there by the thousands trying to build it today.

    (Whadya know, a relevant post for once..)
    • Am I the only one who noticed that the wireless glove, and thought COOL! I always wanted that 'cyberspace' feeling.
    • Beam me down an end-tag... we've got too much bold here

      Seriously though, I wonder how much it would take to trim this thing down... make it look a little more communicator-like.

      Next year I'm going to watch out for the replicator or transporter beam. Personally, if they ever make something like that (and they probably wil one day) - I'd be very wary of being transported around, but it'd be fun to transport other things.
      I wonder if you could be so specific as to transport things off of people, would make
    • Yeah, but look at its shape. If it was something besides a boring rounded bottom box...
      Oh wait, it sort of looks like a cyclops Darkt Vader.
  • Walkie-Talkie? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @12:59PM (#5801207) Journal
    Why waste 802.11b spectrum on voice communications? There are already many chunks of spectrum available for voice communications, but very little available for unlicensed digital use.
    • newsflash: 802.11 is a protocol not a spectrum.

      If it were using the 2.4 Ghz spectrum it could trash 802.11. However, this device can simply hop onto an exising network and play nicely instead.
    • But a walkie-talkie gives you broadcast voice, this gives you a virtual unicast "Riker to Picard..." (how do they hear that in realtime?). There are digital walkie-talkies that you can use sort of point-to-point with digital codes, but they would lack the directory service these units provide.

      Additionally, this system or similar could provide a far greater range and a far greater user density, at a far greater cost. For example, all the students on a campus spread over 2 sq miles.
      • Well, you could get creative with CTCSS tones and voice recognition to implement something similar over normal analog broadcast. It isn't as potentially secure as this though.

        It's cool, but I don't think it would scale as well as you think it would. Have you ever tried putting 10,000 802.11b nodes within range of each other?

        BTW- You know, I never understood on Star Trek why sometimes they tapped the badge before talking, and sometimes they didn't. Seemed pretty inconsistant. I guess they could explain
        • It's cool, but I don't think it would scale as well as you think it would. Have you ever tried putting 10,000 802.11b nodes within range of each other?

          I've been involved with one, had a friend do another on that potential scale. Lots of access points, three-color maps, signal strength meters, reflectance diagrams, blueprints, etc. Many campuses are doing it, despite the relative inefficiency. I still think it's more of a hack than anything, but it can work if you spend enough money. 802.16 might be mo
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow, that Philips iPronto remote sure is big with lots of buttons and stuff for controling everything in my house!

    But does it have a function to mute my wife?
  • by anonymous loser ( 58627 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @01:03PM (#5801260)
    The Exertris Interactive Bike combines the fun and addictive quality of computer games with the health benefits of exercise. Using a concept called pedal-to-play, the player/biker is required to use their pedaling energy to power elements inside the game; all games are based on this premise. The bike's interactive gaming system is built on Microsoft Windows XP Embedded -- an operating system that delivers the power of Windows in componentized form and a toolset enabling rapid development of reliable devices.

    You know, I've been wishing for something like this for a long time. I get bored out of my mind on traditional aerobic exercise equipment, and especially on days with crappy weather, I have no choice for getting a good aerobic workout indoors (except the obvious, uh...alternative, which is difficult when my fiance is several thousand miles away). For the same reason I enjoy playing DDR [konami.co.jp] and Konami's excellent Mocap Boxing [konami.co.uk] game. I play DDR at home as a workout alternative to treadmills, but Mocap Boxing is too expensive to do every day, but I still go play 5-6 games every once in a while. That game makes my arms really tired, but it's a great workout and really fun.

    • I concur, general aerobic workouts indoors suck, but you might consider a TiVo. I know it's saved me bundles of times. Old movies are terrific. Be careful, though, as Farscape's bobbing camera made me motion sick while running.

      For a while, when we had a treadmill, I also used a one handed PS1 controller to play games. Got through most of FF9 that way. The controller eventually died due to harsh conditions (sweat from the palms, dropping it against the treadmill occasionally, etc.), but it was well wor
    • You know, I've been wishing for something like this for a long time. I get bored out of my mind on traditional aerobic exercise equipment, and especially on days with crappy weather, I have no choice for getting a good aerobic workout indoors (except the obvious, uh...alternative, which is difficult when my fiance is several thousand miles away). For the same reason I enjoy playing DDR [konami.co.jp] and Konami's excellent Mocap Boxing [konami.co.uk] game. I play DDR at home as a workout alternative to trea
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2003 @01:12PM (#5801331)
    LinuxDevices.com has published a detailed SPECIAL REPORT on the Embedded Systems Conference [linuxdevices.com] which includes a summary of Linux oriented announcements, plus a story on the best-of-show awards, and also the PC/104 design contest winners, announced this morning. Its sister site, WindowsForDevices.com, has published a similar special report, but more oriented toward embedded Windows perspective [windowsfordevices.com] -- that one includes a table of the awesome set of gadgets and devices on display in the Microsoft pavilion.
  • I want a bike like the one on the finalists page, but did you notice who the bike exhibitor was? Hint: resistance is futile. ;-)

    It seems like it would be easy to build a bike like that and tie it into a few Linux games. The only connection you'd need between the bike and the game would be a speed sensor. (You might add force feedback later.) Has anyone tried enhancing your exercise program like this? Did it motivate you to exercise as often as you hoped?
    • by Caoch93 ( 611965 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @01:23PM (#5801430)
      Konami has had something like that out for a while, and this goes back even further to when NordicTrack offered an interface from your NordicTrack to your computer to play a game by skiing on the thing and playing with controllers on the handles.

      The problem I've seen in the past is that, in order to encourage pedalling/skiing/etc, the game invariably is a game where you make a character go faster or slower based on your exercise pattern. You know something? If I'm running in a hamster wheel, I don't want to see how my work is aiding a fictional character who is likewise running. I'm trying to ignore the drudgery of my workout, not be reminded of it! I'd rather watch the TV in the gym or read. At least then my mind is elsewhere.

      Honestly, I'm amazed Konami hasn't leveraged its Dance Dance Revolution product line for gym use. Dance Dance Revolution is, thus far, the only video game I play where I get a workout and enjoy doing it. I could imagine that Konami could sell conversion kits for the aerobics rooms in gyms that would allow people to have an experience similar to DDR. There's such a strong culture built around that game series that I would think it'd be ripe for spinoffs in markets other than the pure video game market.

  • "The Exertris Interactive Bike combines the fun and addictive quality of computer games with the health benefits of exercise."

    So once they have you addicted, and you can't stop pedaling, you will find that the Venous Cavernosa [sp?] at your tailbone will have been compressed for so long that you've dangerously restricted bloodflow to your privates. Unless it comes with a special seat to reduce this [which it doesn't appear to in the picture], this device will make you more impotent than most /.'ers.
  • Trade show loot! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kirkb ( 158552 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:04PM (#5801913) Homepage
    I use "trade show loot" as a baromoter for how well the industry is doing. 3 years ago, I topped out at about 15 t-shirts for a single day at ESC.

    This year, I only got one. And it was from Microsoft. Everybody else was giving away pens and candy and garbage like that. I guess we know who's dominating the embedded systems space nowadays.
    • Re:Trade show loot! (Score:4, Informative)

      by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:06PM (#5803373) Homepage


      well, Microsoft likes to think so:

      No. 1 Embedded Operating System Provider Worldwide [microsoft.com]

      "The strong interest in Windows CE .NET as well as Windows XP Embedded by industry leaders has been instrumental in securing a No. 1 position for Windows Embedded products. According to Venture Development Corp., Microsoft led in worldwide shipments of embedded operating systems for 2002. "

      "For 2001, Microsoft led revenue for embedded operating systems according to International Data Corp. document 27653, Worldwide Mobile and Embedded Operating Environment Market Forecast and Analysis, 2002-2006. "
      • "For 2001, Microsoft led revenue for embedded operating systems according to International Data Corp. document 27653, Worldwide Mobile and Embedded Operating Environment Market Forecast and Analysis, 2002-2006. "

        The key word is revenue. If you use "units manufactured" the results may be different.


        • well, the same quote says, "Microsoft led in worldwide shipments of embedded operating systems for 2002." Presumably "shipments" is counting units sold or manufactured, not revenue.
  • RLI HG-100K (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kinthelt ( 96845 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:19PM (#5802079) Homepage
    This is much cooler than most people probably think at first glance. I'm pretty intimate with the Red Lake MotionScope series of cameras. And trust me, having that kind of resolution, speed, and robustness all at the same time is an incredible engineering feat.

    For comparison, the MS-8000 is capable of 8000fps, and has a resolution of about 160x120. Don't even think about bumping it around. And it's quite a good camera! The HG-100K is just better.
  • Great.. I hope there are at least the CTRL, CLT and DEL Keys on that thing. Or perhaps you're supposed to run backwards, hold the start button and jack up the speed in order to reboot the thing.
  • by docbrown42 ( 535974 ) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:19PM (#5802776) Homepage
    Does anyone else thing that the wakamaru looks a bit like a Dalek [globalnet.co.uk]?

    Someday, some hacker is going to reprogram these robots to run around screaming "Ex-Ter-Min-Ate" like a demented Hitler (until they fall down the stairs, at least).

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