Spectrum: Robots Will Soon Serve as First Responders

Also, smart walking sticks assist the blind and the Buddy PC app helps people ratchet up productivity.

by / July 29, 2015
DARPA Robotics Challenge DARPA Robotics Challenge

Robots to the Rescue

The 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, helped accelerate the development of robots that could play a critical role in disaster recovery. The most recent DARPA Robotics Challenge in Pomona, Calif., brought together 23 international teams to compete in a disaster response obstacle course of sorts, challenging entrants’ robots to walk through rubble, climb stairs, drive alone, trip circuit breakers and turn valves. Winners like first-place Team Kaist of Daejeon, South Korea, and second-place Team IHMC Robotics of Pensacola, Fla., demonstrate that we are fast approaching a time when robots can capably maneuver incident sites when the risk of sending in human responders is too great. Source: Engadget

 

Lean on Me

Walking sticks that monitor temperature, blood pressure and pulse have been around for several years, but students at Birmingham City University in England are bringing more technology to the devices. XploR canes use cameras and facial recognition to identify people stored on the user’s memory card, allowing him or her to pick out friends and family from 30 feet away. Embedded GPS capabilities that function via Bluetooth help guide users to their destination. Source: Medgadget

A Useful “Buddy” at Work

Who doesn’t want to get more done with less stress? Workforce analytics company Sapience has released its Buddy PC app, which leverages more than 220 million hours of workplace data to help people gain control over distractions and ratchet up productivity.

$68 billion

Predicted biometrics market revenue over the next decade, led by fingerprint, iris image and voice recognition technologies. Source: tractica

The confidential app analyzes individual work patterns, including time spent on different tasks, and recommends simple changes to boost wellness and work output. Buddy follows the company’s Enterprise product, which now has 100,000 users around the world. Data from the individual version, though, is not uploaded to any server; it’s intended only as a “virtual assistant, quietly holding up a mirror to your workday.” Source: Street Insider

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.