SkyMall Monday: Remote Control Beverage Cooler

Summer’s here and it’s time to kick back by the pool with some ice cold drinks. The problem with spending time outside, however, is that you end up far away from your refrigerator. How is one supposed to keep himself refreshed when all of the Zima is chilling in the kitchen (assuming, of course, that said kitchen is in Japan, where Zima is still produced)? You can’t be expected to get up from your chaise lounge, walk several feet, endure the arctic blast of air conditioning once you enter your home and then retrieve a beverage that is held captive behind some heavy refrigerator door. It’s 2011, after all. Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, our dog butlers deliver all of our drinks to us, but we understand that such service is not an option for everyone. Thankfully, SkyMall has just what you need if your domesticated animals have yet to learn how to deliver cold liquid refreshment to you. Put your feet up, stay out of the kitchen and quench any thirst with the Remote Control Beverage Cooler.For decades, we’ve been told that robots would make our lives easier in the future. Well, the future is now. From Rosie in The Jetsons to the robot in Rocky IV to Vicki on Small Wonder, robots have promised us easier and more fulfilling lives. Now, the time has come for the rise of the machines. What’s the worst that could happen?

Think that getting up to grab a beer isn’t hard work? Believe that modern conveniences are making us lazy? Well, while you try to open a bottle with your teeth, we’ll be reading the product description:

Get up and walk all the way over to the cooler for a cold one? Not necessary. Just point your remote, and get your drink delivered, no cabana boy required. This fun remote-control cooler holds up to a dozen bottles or cans plus ice, plus collapses for easy storage; make it go forward, back, turn or spin just by adding batteries.

It’s perfect for when your cabana boy is on strike (stop asking for dental insurance, Raúl!) or for when you want to spin your beer in circles to make it explode upon opening.

Of course, the best reason to purchase the Remote Control Beverage Cooler is because you’re a raging misogynist.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Travel robot stays behind while you fly, takes care of business

At the same time an important client was due to arrive at his office, Trevor Blackwell was stuck at an airport in Canada with an expired passport. That led Blackwell and his team to build a research robot that could be used remotely to interact with a client. They’ve continued to experiment with robotic telepresence for the past two and a half years and began shipping the robots in April.

“I really wanted to greet him and be part of the meeting in a bigger way than I could be on speakerphone,” Blackwell tells Entreprenur.

The answer, described as “Skype on a Segway only more geeked-out” was Blackwell’s “personal avatar”. The $15,000, 35-pound, two-wheeled, self-balancing travel robot has two-way audio and video so users can interact remotely with co-workers or customers.

Called “QB” (because the first model was QA), the personal avatar has a microphone, speakers, a 5-megapixel camera and a GPS-size video screen on its head, which is attached to its mobile bottom with an adjustable pole. QB connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi.All users need is a web browser to log in to the bot on and they’re able to control the robot’s movements with the arrow buttons on the keyboard. Thanks to the simplicity of the system, QB can be used from anywhere, even a laptop at an airport.

“Be part of the action at work from home or anywhere” says Anybots on its website. “All you need is a web browser to interact with the whole office, lab, factory, or warehouse. QB glides around smoothly and quietly, giving you total access and presence.”

Test drives are available Monday through Friday from 5 AM to 6 PM Pacific.

Flickr photo by peyri

Robot discovers secret writing in Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza has always sparked the imagination. Among its many mysteries are four tiny passages running through the interior. The smallest are only eight inches square, far too small for a person to crawl through, so what were they for?

As you can see from the cutaway above, two of the tunnels angle up from the King’s Chamber to exit the pyramid. Some researchers believe these have astronomical alignments. Like with all ancient agricultural societies, observing the heavens was important to the Egyptians. The other two tunnels seem not to go anywhere. Some claim they lead to hidden chambers, or allowed the pharaoh’s soul to pass out of the tomb, but nobody really knows. Now a robot has added new pieces to the puzzle by going down one of these tunnels and filming it.

Robots in the pyramids are nothing new. Robotic exploration started in the 1990s, when remote-controlled cameras on wheels rolled up the two lower tunnels, only to find them blocked by strange stone “doors” decorated with a pair of copper pins. One of the doors had a small hole drilled in it, and a new robot with a camera on the end of a flexible cable looked on the other side.

What it found raises more questions than it answers. The secret door doesn’t seem to have any way to open, and on the other side of it are hieroglyphs. Egyptologists are hoping the hidden message will explain one of the pyramid’s greatest mysteries.

Why is there writing where nobody can read it? And why is the back of the door highly polished? There’s also a mason’s mark on the stone that the researchers are puzzling over. Egyptologists are busy trying to decipher the hieroglyphs and are planning more journeys for the intrepid robot. For more on the technology behind the discovery, check out this post on Dr. Zahi Hawass’ website.

These are good times for pyramid studies. A satellite has detected what could be seventeen lost pyramids, and last summer the pyramids of Abusir and Dahshur opened to the public.

[Image courtesy Jeff Dahl]

Photo of the day – Stormtroopers in Las Vegas

Have you ever walked down the street and seen something amazing and cursed yourself for not having a camera? Lucky for us, Flickr user mciccone640 had his camera and shot today’s Photo of the Day of couple of robots stormtroopers* in Las Vegas. I wonder if there was a convention in town or if the guys were just wearing costumes for luck in the casinos. Perhaps a theme wedding? Hope they had a lucky night (going to the bathroom couldn’t have been easy), no matter the reason.

*This PotD was originally called Robots in Las Vegas until my husband informed me that they were, in fact, storm troopers and not robots. Sorry. Still can’t be easy for them to go to the bathroom.

Capture any unusual sights on the street your travels? Add your pix to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use one for a future Photo of the Day.

Man’s new best friend could be a robot

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is teaming up with Volkswagen to develop the Affective Intelligent Driving Agent, or “AIDA,” an expressive in-car robot which just might bring your driving experience into the new millennium.

We’ve seen major developments in car computer systems over the past few decades (and had quite enough of our GPS systems shouting at us, no?), but never anything on this level. Sweet-faced AIDA will sit on your dashboard and sympathize with you if you’ve had a bad day. Seriously. She can learn your facial expressions.

“Over time, the project envisions a kind of symbiotic relationship developing between the driver and Aida, where both parties learn from each other and establish an affective bond,” reports The Daily Mail. Just watch the guy in the video below scratching AIDA’s head. Could a robot be man’s new best friend?

AIDA may be able to help you conserve time and energy by suggesting the best routes and anticipating your needs, like noticing before you do that your gas is low, and knowing where you typically go shopping and what traffic conditions are like in that area. It’s like something out of a movie — but now, it’s real. There’s no official word yet on how AIDA could help with road trips, but with its (her?) ability to read external cues and internet connection, it (she?) will probably be able to tell you where the best rest stops are, which restaurants are nearby, where there’s going to be traffic and more.

Does your dog do that?

[via DailyMail]