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914 Speech Control
Friday, 08 June 2007

C6Jones720 has completed the first version of his 914 speech control and scripting application which he would like to give away to the enthusiast community. The application currently communicates with BRIAN as this allows for the application to be run on a remote PC and talk to the 914 over the network.

You will need to install the Microsoft Speech SDK to make it work, but Chris has provided an extensive help document (click Help from within the application) which will take you through each stage of the setup.

The application also has it's own built in scripting language so you can script different physical actions for the Bot to take on commands. There is also semantic data processing and recall functionality so you can chat to your Bot, you can also tell your Bot things which it will remember.

You can down the the installation here (9Mb): 914VoiceController.zip

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More WBR on TV
Wednesday, 06 June 2007
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Here is yet another TV feature with Richard Lepack talking about the 914 whilst at the AI/GI/CRV/IS 2007 Conference in Montréal. There are a few other robots featured too including a rather cool looking underwater swimming robot.

This clip is from Global National, the direct link to the video can be found here.






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Monty Madness
Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Richard Lepack, the President of White Box Robotics, sent me these pictures of this year's Monty Madness event that took place at Montgomery Township High School, NJ. This appears to be part of the FIRST Robotics Competition, or something very similar, and featured two White Box Robotics 914's.

All the pictures can be found in the image gallery, I've left the pictures as fairly large file sizes so you can still see all the detail.

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914 Comic - Silicon City part 4
Sunday, 03 June 2007
Image Here's this weeks episode of the online 914 comic book which is written and illustrated by C6jones720. Comic episodes are published each week on Mondays and remain archived in the 914 Comic Series section.

This the forth part of the Silicon City story - I guess everyone got that this is based on the Wizard of Oz right?

Please click on the preview to the right to get this week's episode full size.

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White Box Robotics on TV
Thursday, 31 May 2007
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Richard Lepack has featured in person on a couple of television interviews whilst at the AI/GI/CRV/IS 2007 Conference in Montréal.

The first one is in English, on CTV News.

The second is in French, on TQS.

They are both well worth watching no matter which language you speak!



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Facial Recognition
Thursday, 31 May 2007
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I spotted this very interesting article, about recent improvements in machine vision for facial recognition.

The main point made in the article is that it is much easier for automated systems to recognise objects in 3D, rather than from 2D images. It appears that standard (stereo?) cameras would largely be intended to perform the task of data capture, which sounds hopeful for a low cost solution - rather than expensive laser scanners for instance.

Of course there is a major use for this type of technology for surveillance and 'big brother' style intelligence, along with various privacy issues associated with automatically tracking people through CCTV. However, for a domestic or commercial autonomous mobile robot performing everyday tasks, reliable face recognition, as well as general object recognition are quite key to success. The image processing could even be off-board the robot, perhaps - as mentioned in the article, using IP web cams to capture the image data over a wired or wireless network.

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914 Telepresence Project
Monday, 28 May 2007

This is another project from James - 914pcbots.com Admin.

I built this project as a prototype for another 914 PC Bot owner. The requirements were essentially to allow telepresence using the 914 - to virtually go to another physical place, to see what the robot sees while moving the robot around remotely.

In order to create the best experience, it was decided that the operator of the equipment should be able to look around by moving their head, and have a pan/tilt camera mechanism follow their movements at the remote location - they would wear a 'virtual reality' style head mounted display to see the video feed and drive the robot around using a joystick. The experience would be similar to really being there, driving around in an electric buggy, and looking around as you go. Therefore, as well as a pan/tilt camera mechanism, a head tracker device also had to be constructed:

Both the operator and robot end of the equipment are linked via TCP/IP, so this allows it to work over the internet or any corporate/home network, the only limiting factors really being bandwidth for the video stream and general network latency to between Bot and operator.

There are many detailed pictures in the image gallery of the equipment and some construction pictures too. I have also made a short film of the equipment in action which is on YouTube:

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914 Comic - Silicon City part 3
Sunday, 27 May 2007
Image Here's this weeks episode of the online 914 comic book which is written and illustrated by C6jones720. Comic episodes are published each week on Mondays and remain archived in the 914 Comic Series section.

This the third part of the Silicon City story where something else really unexpected, but sort of familiar happens.

Please click on the preview to the right to get this week's episode full size.

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Buffalo AirStation
Thursday, 24 May 2007

I previously showed you a Netgear game adapter that I installed in my 914 to give rock solid wireless connectivity regardless of operating system. I had planned to build a small network on-board the Bot to allow other devices to be connected such as IP web cams. However, I found that the Netgear WGE111 only allows one device to be connected at a time - it filters on MAC address so if you connect two devices together with a hub/switch it drops wireless connectivity all together.

I have now found a more suitable product which is intended to connect multiple wired devices to a wireless network, it even has a 4-port network switch built into it. The device is a Buffalo AirStation, and it actually came in cheaper than the single device game adapter - just over half price in fact.

It's a little larger than the Netgear adapter - mainly so the network ports fit on the back, it seems to be just as reliable as the Netgear adapter and still runs from a single 5 volt power supply so it can be powered from a standard PC drive bay connecter.

Now I can plug in the mini-itx on-board network interface, an IP web cam and two other devices, perhaps even a few IP web cams looking in different directions, or even a secondary nano or pico-itx board for some dedicated processing - without each device having it's own wireless adapter.

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Survey results
Thursday, 24 May 2007

The ‘most important software feature’ survey has ended. The results aren’t totally unexpected given that the question is asking what the most important feature is, so of course navigation and vision come before playing music for most people.

If you didn’t get around to voting you can still discuss this topic in the thread linked below, or vote in the current survey that can be found on the right hand side.

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Mini and Pico-itx boards
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
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You may already have seen the news that Intel are to start offering their own branded mini-itx boards. This is quite significant as hopefully it will mean that higher powered mini-itx boards will become cheaper - the same as any other form factor.

In other news, Via have formally announced the full public release of the pico-itx form factor motherboard. These boards are just 10cm x 7.2cm an still run at 1Ghz which is of course significant for embedded systems running your choice of standard x86 operating system. You can check out the full Via press release here.

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