'Jibo' Home Robot Launching Soon

Jibo is a domestic robot with a sophisticated set of sensors to interact with family members. Jibo is meant to be a domestic companion, and the creators show him interacting with young kids, adults, and older people too.

But Jibo is immobile. He can't move around on his own — I guess you're supposed to pick him up and move him to different rooms for different tasks. I think the overarching technology is cool (and smartly navigates a lot of constraints), but the idea that a user would unplug something to move it to a new room gives me pause.

Also, no mention of price on the Jibo site. Which is an additional concern of mine. I'm worried he'll be stuck in an uncanny valley between a toy (max price $300) and an important family tool (max price $1000?). I hope there are ongoing ways for the company to monetize beyond the purchase. Maybe they have some kind of payment integration that will let them take a small percentage of the ongoing transactions?

Research Snapshot: Measuring Vital Signs from Radio Signals

Research Snapshot: Measuring Vital Signs from Radio Signals

Fadel Adib and his colleagues work in the Wireless Lab at MIT (under Dr. Robert Miller). Most of their research utilizes different radio waves and using their reflection to determine the presence of people in an indoor space. But this year, they produced a much higher resolution — Vital Radio — that records respiration rate and heart rate. This is a huge advance for the internet of things and smart homes. Look ma’ no wires!

"In this paper, we ask whether it’s possible for smart homes to monitor our vital signs remotely – i.e., without requiring any physical contact with our bodies.” People can just relax in their homes — note that the technology used here does require they sit or lie down — as they normally would and the system generates highly accurate respiration rate and heart rate data.

The system is highly accurate, with average accuracy rates over 98%. The researchers used consumer grade chest-strap heart rate monitors as their ‘ground truth’ measurements. And their system can measure these signals at a distance of almost 25 feet (8m)!