Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You should know about this.

It’s interesting how we all understand the impact of a catastrophe depending on how close to our time and culture such catastrophe occurred.

This particular thought comes from a conversation in which I was asked if I had ever heard about Chernobyl. My friend and I entered in an argument about whether she was polite or rude by asking me if I had ever heard about Chernobyl. Her point of view was that not everyone knows about this event. My point of view was that everybody should know about this event. I got more upset when I remembered that some months ago, after the re-screening of Titanic, a large number of people started posting on their social networks that they had always thought that Titanic was a fictional story…

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Machining a Team

How many times have you been asked, requested or forced to work in a team? How many times have you worked with a cool, nice, hard working team? How many of those teams were conformed by highly qualified, highly motivated people always willing to put all their weight in and doing ther best to not letting you down?

You might have been luckier than me, and worked in a couple or lots of them, but I think that in my whole working-in-a-team experience, I’ve only been in ONE team like that. And believe me, coming from the schools I come (UIA at Mexico City and CMU a Pittsburgh), and through all my work experience I’ve had the chance to work on so many teams… so many of them.


For the past month and days I’ve been volunteering part of my “free” time to build and improve Romibos. Romibo is a cute little furry robot developed with the intention of helping autistic childs to improve their social skills by Origami Robotics, one more startup spun out of the CMU fertile gene pool.

Different from all the previously developed robot pets, Romibo will be affordable, programmable, controllable with an iPad, and as it runs on an Arduino, open source… you can even make it whistle like R2. So if the product generates enough buzz, we’ll see some of those awesome hacks the maker community usually amazes us with.

It seems that over the past months the little furry guys have developed great interest in the scientific community as they present a very flexible (and affordable) platform to perform research on autistic children. Because of such interest, Origami is planning on sellling dev kits for scientists and research centers and sepparately, kits to parents and to the general public.

The first version may be available pretty soon for around $700. They are expensive and they know it, but the first orders, mainly intended for research centers and universities, will (hopefully) generate enough cash flow to develop the commercial available kits for the general public, which will probably have a target price of around $200.

Kids loving the Romibos at the NY Maker Faire 2012 

On my side, I'm already savouring my own home-made hack to my Romibo. Maybe adding a webcam and tweaking the Wifi card to upload stuff (like pics of your inner kid interacting with it) to the cloud?

You can learn more about Romibo at Origami Robotics, and also in this short article by Engadget, where you’ll be able to see my own Romibo in action, it’s the naked one (of course)!