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Mechanical Engineering

Direct Digital Manufacturing

Technology
Direct Digital Manufacturing
Saturday, December 8, 2007
2 Comments :: Article Rating :: Computer Graphics, Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, e-commerce

You browse the site looking for the product you are interested in. You read some of the reviews to see what other people think of it. You check all the images, 3D models of the product and its interactive features. Finally you decide that it’s worth the money and you go ahead and pay for it. Somewhere else, in the middle of the country, a machine comes to life. It has received a command from an online retailer to make a product. The machine is given the Universal Standard Identification Number of the product. It contacts a product database and downloads the latest design data for your selected product. This digital data contains all the information necessary to manufacture the product. Having finished downloading the data, it starts the fabrication process using appropriate material. After a while, the fabrication of different components of the product is completed. These parts are assembled together with an assembly robot. The product is then sent via conveyors for packaging and is finally shipped to you.

This is the future of rapid product manufacturing and delivery. Today, such technology is mainly used by engineers for rapid prototyping. As the machines become more sophisticated, as the internet gets more mature and as global logistics becomes ever more efficient, there comes a time that products are made one at a time based on order; manufacture-on-demand. Perhaps there will always be a need to mass manufacture common products for efficiency, but as the Long Tail has shown us, there is a lot of scope in making low-volume products with infinite diversity for every taste.

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Immersive Peripheral Interfaces

Technology
Immersive Peripheral Interfaces
Friday, November 30, 2007
0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Computer Graphics, Gadgets, Mechanical Engineering, Human-Machine Interface

You step in the zone. You are in a jungle. You can hear sound of strange creatures around you. You draw your sword. The fun is to about to begin. There will be lots of hack and slashing. Your pulse is getting faster. Your senses are sharp and you are tense. From the corner of your eye you see some movement. This is it! You raise your sword, spin around, make a double duck move while pressing the button on the sword which makes you fly three times higher than normal and land behind the creature. Then, woosh, and its head rolls down … Wooh you have made it. You wipe your sweat off your forehead. Let’s move on.

An immersive 3D capture device can monitor your movements in the real world and map them to the virtual world you are interacting with.

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Invisible Cloak

Technology
Invisible Cloak
Thursday, November 15, 2007
2 Comments :: Article Rating :: Computer Graphics, Gadgets, Mechanical Engineering
You are walking around in the ruins trying to be careful not to create too much dust. After all, you don’t want to give your position away. The situation is critical. The enemy is coming towards you in droves and you need to get out of here to get yourself back to the base. You were part of an advance reconnaissance team on a top secret mission. The last thing you want is to let the enemy know you where here. It will lead to all sorts of political issues. You are wearing the latest gadget the military has acquired; the Invisible Cloak. It is almost a privilege to wear it. It effectively makes you transparent, much like the good old Predator movie. You can’t believe they actually made it. But here it is and you are wearing it. The module that comes with it is rather bulky, and makes you twice as large, but at least they won’t be able to see you …

Invisibility has been our dream for a long time and as demonstrated in many movies and work of fiction such as ‘The Invisible Man’ by H. G. Wells, it can be put to good use or it can be abused.

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Self Replicating Machines

Technology
Self Replicating Machines
Monday, November 12, 2007
1 Comments :: Article Rating :: Robotics, Mechanical Engineering

You are amazed by its sheer complexity. You can see machines of all types. This thing makes everything; digger robots for mining, transport robots, warehouse robots, energy capturing robots, assembly robots, designer robots, repair robots, meta-repair robots and everything in between. The end result of all this effort; more robots.

You don’t want to call this thing a factory although that is a close approximation. You like to think of the whole system as one big self-replicating machine. It is all self-contained and self-maintained by machines. We had never had it so good. Life is easy …

Self-replicating machines have long been a goal humans have longed for. Its advantages are clear. You setup the machine once and it doesn’t need human intervention. It can go on its own business and make the final product you are after while making all other products necessary to sustain itself, find energy and material and also grow its production capacity if required.

Self-replication can be considered in two separate scales; macro and nano. In macro scale, self-replicating machines are usually depicted as robots while nano-scale self-replicators are used to construct nano-machines used for a different set of applications. For example, macro scale self-replicators can be used to terraform a planet and make it habitable, while the nano-scale replicators can be used to hunt for cancer cells in a human body and attempt to kill them.

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Robotics

Technology
Robotics
Friday, November 9, 2007
4 Comments :: Article Rating :: Space, Artifical Intelligence, Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, Electronics Engineering

You are sitting in a football (soccer) stadium. There is a huge crowd. You know that apart from the 100,000 people in the stadium, there must be at least a couple of billion people watching the event. This is unprecedented and there has been a huge media interest for this. By now, everyone on the planet must know what is about to happen today. A lot of the details have been deliberately kept secret, so anticipations are high. It feels more like a product lunch of a super-cool gadget than a competition between several teams. But, oh galaxies, isn’t this exciting. The teams have been practicing for years, but everyone is drawn into anticipation to see what is about to happen. It is World Cup after all, and it is the first game between two very interesting teams. One is the champion from last World Cup and the other is, well, a team of robots! The referee blows his whistle and the captain of Team Invincible kicks the ball. Here we go … They are so agile. Wow, this is going to be a close one. Is it actually possible that they could win, in a fair game? That will be news indeed. First time in history! They look so lifelike and superior, you feel you don’t want to mess with them. It’s as if everyone wants both sides to win. Humans versus machines. At last, the dream is coming true. The football of the century; 11 humans versus 11 robots and one goal: to win the World Cup. Humans want it just as bad as the robots. It is 2050

Robotics is a technology that most people are familiar with as the idea of intelligent machines is quite old. Numerous works of fiction and movies on this subject show how interested we are in making and using robots for a variety of applications.

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