Older blog entries for Timster (starting at number 23)

Yo! Swirling fella!

Where does it list the new price of Robosapien? Is it no longer US$100?


Kunal great to hear!

If any of you are in the Boston area in March make sure you check out the Robotics Trends "Emerging Robotics Technologies $ Applications Conference". There is a huge push on right now to create commercial opportunities in the personal and service robotics space and this is where you will have a chance to see what's hot and who's making a play in this space.

VIA will be presenting and you can find out more about what our strategy is for helping grow the market.

Details here: http://www.roboticsevents.com/


Don't know what your email address is... but you might consider a VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX board with an embedded 1GHz VIA C3 processor. Price is reasonalble, size is great and power draw is less.

Is that enough processing power for you? I understand some of our customers are doing vision recognition on these boards.

You can check out VIA's robot related info here:


Hope that helps.


Dafydd Walters has a new how to build PC-Based robots column called "Mr. Davbot's Musing's". The column is published on the www.mobilerobotics.org website.

24 Nov 2003 (updated 24 Nov 2003 at 05:55 UTC) »

Below for those who are interested is VIA explanation of the emerging yet interim PC-Bots market... sorry its a little long... but very interesting (trust me :)

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.

20 Nov 2003 (updated 20 Nov 2003 at 13:31 UTC) »

A copy of our latest robot related press release is posted below for those who are interested.

VIA Drives Emergence of New Personal Robotics Market with Innovative new PC-Bots from White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics

New PC-Bot products from White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics based on VIA EPIA Mini-ITX Mainboard cater to the growing personal robotics market

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 19 November 2003 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of silicon chip technologies and PC platform solutions, today announced that it is showcasing two exciting new PC-Bots, the 912 from White Box Robotics and the IO from RoboDynamics, at a private press event held in Las Vegas this week.

PC-Bots are a rapidly emerging new category of devices that bridge the gap between the PC and conventional robots by leveraging the unrivaled power, flexibility, and compatibility of the x86 architecture to enable the integration of advanced functionality and intelligence, including human-like senses such as vision processing, audio processing, and the ability to interact with people and other devices and detect environmental changes.

Based on the VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboard platform, PC-Bots are opening up exciting new possibilities for product design innovation in a diverse range of applications, including mobile music DJs, home and office security guards, and patient care assistants. The 912 from White Box Robotics, for example, is a stunning-looking PC-Bot that can move around the house and allows people to enjoy their home digital entertainment content, such as listening to MP3 songs.

"PC-Bots are an exciting new way to experience and connect the entertainment and home automation features that are becoming mainstream," declared Timothy Brown, Robotics Program Manager for VIA Technologies, Inc. "These exciting new designs from White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics clearly illustrate the enormous potential for innovation within this new market category."

"Our nine series of robots allows anyone who can operate a PC the chance to own an attractive and functional personal robot," said Thomas J. Burick, President of White Box Robotics. "The 912 is designed with an industry standard approach to robot building. Almost all of the components used in the 912 are standard off-the-shelf computer parts. Any computer store in the world becomes your own personal robot parts bin. VIA's Mini-ITX mainboard allows this to happen by providing an ultra compact yet powerful mainboard to build upon."

"We believe that over the next few years you will begin to see personal robotics take off and go through a tremendous growth phase equaling that of the PC industry during the 90s" says Fred Nikgohar, Chairman and CEO of RoboDynamics. "The VIA motherboard gives us a robust and standardized platform that allows a fast time-to-market as well as a plethora of existing development tools already existing for the x86 chip family."

VIA EPIA Mainboards Powering the Robotics Revolution VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboards are already being utilized in the design and development of pioneering robotics projects by a number of organizations and educational groups, including the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) mapping and surveillance Centibots project, the University of Manitoba's Autonomous Agents Lab and several autonomous race vehicle teams competing in the DARPA Grand Challenge, including Team LoGHIQ.

Autonomous vehicles are sophisticated mobile robots that traverse land, sea and air under the guidance of their own internal artificial intelligence. Typically they require robust, low power computing platforms to act as the complex software control environments that run the mechanical movement instructions, sensors, positioning, and navigation equipment that enable their independent operation.

Robot Petting Zoo at Lunch@Piero's VIA will be hosting a panel discussion on today's commercial robot business opportunities at the Lunch@Piero's press-only tech event held in Las Vegas, opposite the Las Vegas Convention Center, from Monday to Tuesday, 18-19 November 2003. Speakers from VIA, Carnegie-Mellon, Robotic Trends, Evolution Robotics, RoboteQ will lead the panel while White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics will unveil their exciting new product offerings at this time. A robot "Petting Zoo" demo area at the event will showcase the functionality and innovation of wide variety of robots based on VIA platforms.

About VIA in Robotics The VIA Robotics Initiative is the first phase of VIA's efforts to promote PC architecture and VIA platforms for the robotics industry. By working together on projects of all levels with the academic, commercial and enthusiast communities with existing VIA EPIA-Series mainboards, VIA is validating design strategies. Strategies that are highly applicable for today's robot markets while laying the groundwork for platform advances that will continue to progress the future development of robot-specific technologies and products into mainstream markets.

The VIA Robotics Initiative plays an important role for defining the longer-term direction of VIA's "Total Connectivity" message. Robot and PC industry watchers can expect to see a series of projects and product announcements over the next year.

For more details about the VIA Robotics initiative please visit the VIA website at: http://www.via.com.tw/en/robotics/robotics.jsp

About the VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX Mainboard The VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX mainboard is the second-generation 17cm x 17cm platform optimized for today's killer digital video, audio and more complex processor intensive applications. In addition to its integrated 1GHz VIA C3 processor, the board features the VIA CLE266 chipset with embedded MPEG-2 decoder and a new integrated 2D/3D graphics engine to ensure smooth DVD playback and a rich overall entertainment experience. With the sizable memory bandwidth of DDR266 SDRAM and the high data transfer speeds of ATA-133, the VIA EPIA M10000 ensures the high performance levels required of today's most popular digital media and productivity applications. The user's digital media experience is further enhanced by support for 5.1 surround sound, courtesy of the onboard VIA Vinyl Six-TRAC Audio.

The latest in high-bandwidth connectivity is supported with IEEE 1394 and USB2.0 connections, as well as S-Video and RCA TV-Out (NTSC & PAL) and 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet for seamless broadband connectivity. The VIA EPIA M-Series also offers support for a growing number of LVDS embedded LCD panels, has a PCI slot for expandability options, and is compatible with a full range of Mini-ITX chassis as well as FlexATX and MicroATX enclosures. It is also compatible with Microsoft® Windows® 2K/ME/XP and a variety of Linux-based operating systems.

The VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX mainboard is available in volume now from VIA's global distribution partners listed here: http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=242, including leading US online stores www.mwave.com, www.newegg.com, and www. outpost.com, at an estimated retail price of US$199. For more information on the full range of VIA EPIA M-Series Mini-ITX mainboards please visit: www.viaembedded.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81

About White Box Robotics White Box Robotics is a group of visionaries with their sights set on dynamic commercial robotic products. White Box Robotics mission is to become an industry leader and innovator of PC based mobile robotic platforms for the entertainment, educational, and personal robotics industry.

For more information about White Box Robotics, please visit the website: http://www.whiteboxrobotics.com

About Robodynamics Founded in September 2003, RoboDynamics is a provider of personal, entertainment and productivity robotics. Our vision is a near future where mobile and stationary intelligent devices interact with people and allow them to perform everyday tasks in ways that are more efficient, intriguing, and productive.

For more information about RoboDynamics, please visit: http://www.robodynamics.com

About VIA Technologies, Inc. VIA Technologies, Inc. is the foremost fabless supplier of market-leading core logic chipsets, low power x86 processors, advanced connectivity, multimedia, networking and storage silicon, and complete platform solutions that are driving system innovation in the PC and embedded markets. Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, VIA's global network links the high tech centers of the US, Europe and Asia, and its customer base includes the world's top OEMs, motherboard vendors and system integrators. VIA is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE2388) and achieved annual revenues of over US$720 million in 2002. www.via.com.tw

VIA PR Contacts

International: Richard Brown Phone: (886)-2-2218-5452 #6201 Fax: (886-2)-2218-5453 Email: Richard_Brown@via.com.tw


Michal Lisiecki Phone: (49-2241) 39778-16 Fax: (49-2241) 39778-19 Email: MichalLisiecki@via.com.tw

Reply to Robots.net news story: The Incredible, Shrinking CPUs:

VIA has the advantage over Transmeta that it will still be in business for more than 2 quarters while Transmeta will likely not. They are just hemmoraging cash too quickly. I think the Efficeon product release and all their postureing about their future technologies is just very likely an attempt to get purchased by another player in the industry.

Also the 12cmX12cm Nano-ITX board includes a lot more silicon than simply the processor. Their will be the chipset with integrated graphics and audio, basically your complete PC with the requesit connections. I can't give you the full specs because they haven't been finalized and will be different for different versions of the board. While the Nano-ITX will still be aimed primarily at the VIA's bread and butter PC/devices customers we feel it will be very well suited to robotics applications. Especially since our new even smaller .90 Eden N processor will draw even less power which is great for mobile applications (1GHz~7W, 800MHz~6W and at 533MHz only 4W!)

Timothy J. Brown VIA Robotics Program Manager

VIA Robotics Initiative http://www.via.com.tw/en/robotics/robotics.jsp

Its great to see a review of our VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboards on Robots.net. We are working with several Universities and research groups to help them develop robot projects but its a lot more fun to see what happens when products get into the hands of the everyman.

The Mini-ITX as the review points out is great for robot projects that want to have the power of an x86 (PC-based) board. But to show you that VIA is not resting on our laurals and is in fact a leader in the shrinking formfactor for boards that will be ideal for robotics applications I can only tease you with this link to early pictures of our Nano-ITX which will be an even smaller, low power, high connectivity x86 standard board.


www.mobilerobotics.org has coverage of a funny, fake news story about the Japanese gov. naming two new robot cabinet members. If you like satire and robots you'll get a kick out of it.

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