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MEDi Soothing Robot

Especially for small children, flu shots are a terrifying experience, with apparently terrible pain. This phase is quite crucial because studies show that children who experience distress in a medical setting are less likely to seek medical care in adulthood. The question is how to relive suffering, and this robot shows that such relieve evidently comes in the form of a robot.

Another video can be found here.

This robot is called MEDi, a NAO robot owned and programmed by researchers at the University of Calgary. The robot greets children with a high-five, collects toys from a tray, and talks with the patient, altogether acting as sort of a playmate.

One example of how the robot actually helps is when the robot asks the child to blow dust off of a rubber toy, at which point the doctor injects the flu shot. In medical terms, this exhaling relaxes the deltoid muscle and reduces the pain of injection, while appearing as a very natural interaction between child and robot.

This robot was the target of a scientific study, with 57 children ranging from 4 to 9 years old. These children were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The control group got the routine care for flu shots, while the other group had MEDi to interact with the child. Later, the children, parents, nurses, and researchers present in the cases rated how distressed the children seemed. The results are pretty interesting to say the least.

Not only did children who interacted with MEDi report significant pain reduction, children also recovered more quickly, relaxing almost immediately after injection, whereas control group children remained sullen for up to 20-30 minutes. Some parents also interacted with the robot cooperatively, working together to coordinate actions such as the dust-blowing.

The possibilities are endless in this case. Because MEDi has facial recognition capabilities, researchers are considering possibly making the robot greet children on subsequent visits, adding to the effect. MEDi is a pioneer in pediatric pain relief, and let us hope that this field will further expand so that children will experience the least suffering overall.

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R2B2: Button Basher

This robot will probably make you take out your phone and maybe fix some features in there, because it’ll make you question just how safe the information in your phone is. If you think that your flimsy password will deter anyone, think again!

This robot is called R2B2, short for Robotic Reconfigurable Button Basher. It does the dirty work of cracking Android passwords by trying every single combination until it hits a match. Not only that, it does it in around 19 hours, less than the time in a day. If you lost your phone for a day, you could essentially have all of your information stolen!

Now the interesting thing is that R2B2 isn’t even physically worth that much. It’s made of three $10 servomotors and ┬ámany 3D-printed plastic parts, overall built for less than $200. It runs on an Arduino microcontroller, wields a plastic stylus to tap screens, and uses a cheap webcam to detect when a correct password is entered.

Alas, R2B2 does have its shortcomings. It’s so far restricted to Android numerical codes, because brute-forcing locks on an iPhone on default settings. Of course, you can always change your settings a bit, and prevent the robot from getting very far. Just make sure that your passcode isn’t the one that the robot guesses in the first three tries.

This robot was created by Justin Engler and Paul Vines, the former of whom is a security engineer, so it looks like we won’t have these roaming the streets and stealing info anytime soon. Instead, this robot is being considered for the improvement of security systems, as sort of a pass system.

Better security is more privacy, so make sure that all of your information and mobile devices are locked down securely!

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Tradinno, Robot Dragon

Most of the time when it comes to robots, size depends very much on what the robot is being used for. For convenience, some robots are smaller and portable. For sheer necessity, others are hulking machines. But when it comes to show business, for dramatic effect, bigger is better.

This real-life dragon is called Tradinno, meshing together Tradition and Innovation. He weighs 11 tons, is 51 feet long, and has a wingspan of 40 feet. This guy is nightmare fuel if you’re afraid of fire-breathing mythical creatures and a dream-come-true if you’re a fan of fantasy.

The robot is the product of a decade of planning and work, and is magnificent to behold. With a 2 liter turbo diesel engine and polyurethane, glass-reinforced plastic skin, controllable veins that spurt 21 gallons of stage blood, flappable wings, and liquid gas for fire-breathing, Tradinno is truly an entertainment robot.

In fact, this robot is in the “Guinness World Records 2014″ book as the world’s largest walking robot. The only thing it can’t do is fly, but that’s more of a blessing if you really think about it. Entertainment, on a new level.

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Maggot Robot, in the Brain Matter

Brain surgery is one of the most dangerous operations that can be done on the human body, with its sensitivity. One of the issues surrounding this surgery is the risk of damaging living tissue while removing damaged tissue and tumors. And what did scientists do to try and fix the problem?

Build a maggot robot, of course.

What you’re looking at is a robotic maggot called the Minimally Invasive Neurosurgical Intracranial Robot (MINIR) designed by a team of three researchers from the University of Maryland. So why maggots, you might ask. Well, maggots are small and only consume dead flesh. In some cases, live maggots are put into a wound to remove only the damaged tissue and leave the living tissue intact.

This is important on two levels. First of all, a small robot is minimally invasive and does not require the opening of the skull. Second of all, it can be used while a patient is inside an MRI. While most brain surgery patients undergo an MRI before surgery, there can still be shifts and changes before and during an operation. As such, the ability to see 3D diagrams of the brain at the same time as operating is quite useful.

This robot has already been tested in pig cadavers, and the researchers say that they’ll be ready to test in three to five years. MINIR would make brain surgery less invasive, more accurate, and ultimately safer and easier.

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Handwriting Robot at Bond Gifts

Once upon a time, “Thank You” notes had to be handwritten. Once upon a time, people took a few minutes out of their day to write in fancy cursive on a card and make a short trip to the post office to mail it. Once upon a time… but no more. The robots have come.

A company in New York, called Bond Gifts, has created an iOS app, called Bond, that tells Giles the Bond Robot in New York. This robot then writes a note in calligraphy on embossed stationery using a fountain pen. Then the letter is put into a wax-sealed envelope to be mailed.

There’s a bit of sweet irony that Bond is handwriting letters as a robot. However, as the gift-giving mantra goes, it’s the thought that counts. But this robot does do a good job in personalizing its writing; letters are not perfectly the same throughout the letter, giving a more realistic and human sense.

Above all, this robot has the potential to bring back the art of writing letters. It might be up for debate, but for now, handwritten letters seem to be a great way to add a little emotion in our rapidly advancing technological society.

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