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Tim the Robots Program Manager for VIA here. This event was put on by VIA to demonstrate some of the emerging comercially available robot that have resulted from the initial efforts of our Robotics Initiative and to show people further that we are serious about being the company that drives x86 architecture in robotics.
The White Box robots are VERY VERY Cool essentially allowing anyone who knows anything about PCs be able to modify and build a fully functioning robot! They will have much more details on their website over the next few days.
Since some of these new robots are based on PC architecture and don't have 2 arms and legs and do the laundry...VIA calls these interim products PC-Bots. Read below a long explanation if you are interested:
------------- The PC Grows, Changes, Converges
The role of the PC in our daily lives is continuing to evolve as the industry leverages the power, flexibility, and open standards of the x86 architecture to transform it from a simple productivity tool to a multi-function device that includes advanced communications and digital entertainment features. New applications such as email, instant messaging, VOIP, music, movies, and games are not only significantly enhancing the capabilities of PCs, but are also changing the way that we use these machines.
This convergence of the PC with Consumer Electronics and Communications has been underway for several years, and is now finally reaching a state of maturity in terms of product features and designs as well as consumer adoption. The Consumer Electronics industry has brought new levels of style, ease of use, and high quality multimedia features to the PC, while the performance, versatility, and open standards of the PC industry have enabled the emergence of a new generation of digitally intelligent Consumer Electronics devices. As a result, DVD players are becoming DVRs, stereos are becoming digital jukeboxes, and telephones are becoming videoconferencing devices.
Beyond PC and CE As the quality, convenience, and functionality of PCs and digitally intelligent devices further improves, people are already beginning to wonder what the next wave of advanced technological innovation will be. How will it be possible to further leverage the digital intelligence enabled by the x86 platform and create even smarter devices that go beyond the current feature-set and simply "do more" for the user?
Out of the Novel, Beyond the Textbook, into the Manual Once strictly the fancy of science fiction visionaries and committed academics, robots have for a long time captured people's imagination and represented the ultimate dream of many technologists. It's not difficult to envisage how robots with the innate ability to mimic our own human intelligence, senses, and physical capabilities would simplify our lives, by for example doing our household chores, guarding our homes, helping us with our jobs, and fighting our wars.
Today, such a vision is no longer a pipedream. In labs and research institutes across the world, fueled by military funding, space exploration, and healthcare needs, robot concept devices and prototypes of these visions of our future reality are finally starting to emerge and begin the inevitable march towards practical and then commercial development.
Robotics for Everyone But beyond the research being conducted by scientists, professors, and students, how does robotics fit into the lives of people today?
In fact, toy pets and automatic vacuum cleaners have already begun to appear on the market, ushering in this new robot era. Simultaneously, and perhaps unwittingly, a growing number of PC users have also begun traveling down the road to a robotics lifestyle by creating their own intelligent robotics systems. These new machines are helping to create a new interim category that bridges the gap between the latest PCs and outright robots, and for this reason we have called them PC-Bots.
Adding a web camera to your PC so that it can act as a surveillance device may not feel like you are building a robot, but it is definitely a step in that direction because you are essentially extending the utility of your PC by adding a new human-like sense to it. In other words, by integrating the ability to see and store image or video data in your system, you have in essence created a PC-Bot.
In fact, many of the most highly touted new features and products for the digital home, including video motion detection and thermometers for fire detection or climate control, all rely on the integration of human-like senses into the PC and sensors connected to it over a network.
New software technology is also playing a key role in ushering in the emerging of the PC-Bot market. Software that intelligently handles your email, filtering your spam and removing the physical need to manage your communications, is in effect providing PC-Bot functionality. Speech recognition software that negates the need to type or click commands to make your "listening" PC software applications function is also providing PC-Bot functionality to some users.
Inspiring the Enthusiasts "Modders" and "Overclockers" or those who customize and soup up their own PC components and cases to suit their tastes have created a large community of peers who share information and tips on how to turn an average PC into their own visions of cool slick machines. Primarily dedicated to their own aesthetic sense and increasing the PC performance, they show that a sizeable number of people are interested in doing a lot more with their computers than PC manufacturers suggest on their product brochures.
This community is already beginning to move beyond making PCs cooler by looks and performance only by adding "utility" to the aesthetic and speed based yardsticks by which they measure the quality and coolness of their "Mods". With their advanced technical expertise and creativity, the modding and overclocking communities are sure to play an important role in driving grassroots innovation in PC-Bot technology.
The Robotics Community While the PC-Bots market might make sense from the PC community perspective, what about the traditional robotics community? The robotics community includes commercial groups, academia, and robot enthusiasts of all ages.
Children now have the opportunity today to come in contact with robotics technologies throughout their education as more and more schools and colleges recognize robots as a fascinating tool by which students can learn about science, mechanics, electronics, computer programming, and even nature.
Robot competitions including soccer, sumo wrestling and other robot on robot battles are more popular than ever, with the mainstream media picking them up for TV shows and magazine coverage. While not commercially galvanized in the way the PC is, robotic clubs, societies, school groups etc provide a large enough market to attract and provide major companies with revenue opportunities in areas such as toys, kits, learning tools, electronic pets, and automation applications such vacuum cleaning.
Sophisticated software that has trickled down through research projects and academia is now available affordably to more mainstream audience. Complex robotic functions such as vision navigation systems and autonomous movement can be easily loaded to popular operating system environments. Making a robot that can leverage the power of the x86 platform is getting easier and more affordable. The power of the x86 platform is also allowing developers to make robots with increasingly sophisticated abilities such as navigation and collaboration between machines. For different reasons, but with the same result, the robotics community is coming to the PC platform. The enthusiast will be making PC-Bots for their own enjoyment and commercial businesses will ultimately build them for mainstream market.
VIA and PC-Bots With a complete range of low power x86 processors, chipsets, networking components, graphics, audio, and telecommunications products, VIA has developed the world's most comprehensive portfolio of PC silicon platform solutions available from a single company. As a global leader in creating small form factor, low power x86 standard mainboards with the VIA EPIA Mini-ITX Mainboard Series and the forthcoming VIA Nano-ITX, VIA is at the forefront of developing affordable and highly versatile platforms ideally suited to PC-Bot design applications.
Blending the best of what the PC world has to offer with core design values such as low power draw, distributed performance, and numerous connectivity options in a size that permits maximum design flexibility, the strengths of the VIA Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX platforms are crucial to typical robotics project needs and have delivered proven performance, reliability, and compatibility in the highly demanding PC market, whereas specialty boards built for robotics markets have not.
By continuing to develop highly-integrated low power x86 platforms and further strengthening its ties with the development community, VIA is committed to driving the emergence of the PC-Bots market and enabling exciting new levels of innovation in digitally intelligent devices.
I don't believe that PCbots will be taken seriously until they are able to compete with people by invading some small country and organizing an recognized Axis of Evil as countries managed by humans have done. For more on the subject, read this:
ANGERED BY SNUBBING, LIBYA, CHINA SYRIA FORM AXIS OF JUST AS EVIL Cuba, Sudan, Serbia Form Axis of Somewhat Evil; Other Nations Start Own Clubs
Beijing (SatireWire.com) ‧' Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil," Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be way eviler than that stupid Iran-Iraq-North Korea axis President Bush warned of his State of the Union address.
Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are Just as Evil... in their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils... best at being evil... we're the best."
Diplomats from Syria denied they were jealous over being excluded, although they conceded they did ask if they could join the Axis of Evil. "They told us it was full," said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "An Axis can't have more than three countries," explained Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "This is not my rule, it's tradition. In World War II you had Germany, Italy, and Japan in the evil Axis. So you can only have three. And a secret handshake. Ours is wicked cool."
International reaction to Bush's Axis of Evil declaration was swift, as within minutes, France surrendered. Elsewhere,peer- conscious nations rushed to gain triumvirate status in what became a game of geopolitical chairs. Cuba, Sudan, and Serbia said they had formed the Axis of Somewhat Evil, forcing Somalia to join with Uganda and Myanmar in the Axis of Occasionally Evil, while Bulgaria, Indonesia and Russia established the Axis of Not So Much Evil Really As Just Generally Disagreeable.
With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs filling up, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Rwanda applied to be called the Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be Asked to Host the Olympics; Canada, Mexico, and Australia formed the Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Nasty Thoughts About America, while Spain, Scotland, and New Zealand established the Axis of Countries That Sometimes Ask Sheep to Wear Lipstick. "That's not a threat, really, just something we like to do," said Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell.
While wondering if the other nations of the world weren't perhaps making fun of him, a cautious Bush granted approval for most axes, although he rejected the establishment of the Axis of Countries Whose Names End in "Guay," accusing one of its members of filing a false application. Officials from Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chadguay denied the charges.
Israel, meanwhile, insisted it didn't want to join any Axis, but privately, world leaders said that's only because no one asked them. Copyright © 2002, SatireWire.
Two updates for this story. First, as several people have pointed out, it's a duplicate of the story posted by Swirling Brain a few days earlier: VIA Technologies Demos Bots in Las Vegas
Second, I received an email from Thomas J. Burick, the president of White Box Robotics. Their's was one of the robots in the CNN photo (the silver robot) that did not get mentioned in the story.
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