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Tired hands when writing? Let a robot do it for you

We have all been there.

Whether it’s during an exam, writing a letter or simply doodling whilst you should have been paying attention, everybody’s hand cramps up from writing at some point or another.

There’s also the chore of having to find a stamp, locate the nearest post box and remind your fingers of those handwriting skills you learnt all those years ago.

Fortunately, a team in America have now combatted these issues and have developed robots that are able to mimic a person’s handwriting. Using an app, a message can be sent in and for a fee of £131, you can have your own personal handwriting copied.

The robots are, in effect, a high-tech update of the autopen machines used to recreate multiple signatures on documents. Now using updated software, the robots are able to write as quickly as humans, whilst mimicking their hand movements, but without the worry of getting tired or making mistakes.

Sonny Caberwal, founder of a New York City-based handwriting service, said, "We're not trying to fool people into believing that someone wrote the note for them. We're trying to give people a tool to express themselves in the way they want."

The robots aren’t necessarily confined to only personal letters either. Research suggests that they could also prove beneficial in the marketing world as well, following on from studies showing that people were much more likely to open handwritten letters.

To see the robot in action, click here.



Giant beach art created by robots

A robotic beach artist has created a method for developing giant drawings in the sand. Researchers from both Disney Research Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have even developed the robot in such a way that it can recreate photos sent to it from a phone or tablet.

Using a rake at its rear end, the robot calculates a route across the sand before etching its pattern into it. This effectively allows the beach (as long as it is sandy) to act as a giant digitally controlled canvas.

The team are now hoping to add a number of tools to the robot to allow it to create different textures in the sand and erase previous markings.

The developer behind the idea, David Beardsley, said, “We would like to make huge sand art that amazes people, similar to the Nazca Lines in Peru.”

He and his team are certainly heading in the right direction to doing that.

To see the robot in action, click here.



How to use a Macintosh mouse

We're big fans of Apple - their relentless innovation, clean product design and intuitive user interfaces have justified their position as figureheads of the tech industry. But how 'intuitive' are they really? This user guide for the original Macintosh reminds us that we all need a little help sometimes. With instructions on how to correctly insert a floppy disk and how to use the mouse, the guide feels alien and even funny to us modern whizz kids.

So while technology evolves in a way that feels intuitive, we still have to learn some new techniques with each development. Things like virtual reality and smartwatches use features that we're already familiar with while giving us new experiences at the same time.

What new tech are you most looking forward to this year?



Google backs Parkinson’s spoon

Google is making a name for itself as an innovator of groundbreaking new technology. At first glance this makes their venture into the cutlery market surprising. But the new spoon being developed by Google-owned Lift Labs is not your average utensil. The spoon helps people with tremors eat more easily, by sensing movement in their hands and counteracting it.

Image: The Guardian

While the spoon handle doesn’t reduce tremors in the hand, it keeps the end of the spoon steady making for much easier mealtimes. According to Dr. Jill Ostrem, the spoon has even helped some patients who previously had to be fed by someone else to eat independently.

So it's a powerful spoon, but this is also reflected in the price. At $295 it’s far from cheap, but there’s no doubting the potential improvements in quality of life this device brings with it.



With the wave of your phone

It wasn’t long ago that the only ‘sensitive information’ our phone contained was a list of names and numbers, and maybe a few text messages. Back then our Nokia’s and the data they contained were protected by a simple four digit PIN. A quick (and very unscientific) poll around the office tells me that most people’s phones are still protected by a simple four digit PIN. The difference is that they are now containing huge amounts of ‘sensitive information’, about not only the phones users, but, all their contacts to. This data can include; home and email addresses, photographs, personal and work diaries as well as a plethora of social apps such as Facebook and Tinder.

It would seem that the security of the phones has not progressed as fast as the functionality of the phones.

The new AirSig app might change this. Users program their phone to accept an ‘air signature’ as confirmation of their identity, and the command to open an apps. For example by signing ‘mail’ with your phone, as if with a pen, the app can detect your identity through the unique way you sign, and open the app. This prevents other people gaining access to your emails. The principle can be applied to multiple apps as well as unlocking your phone in the first instance.

The possibilities for this technology are endless. The developers of this technology have suggested it could be used in a range of smart devices, for example TV remotes. Personalised signatures with the remote would provide safe and restricted TV viewing for your children while your signatures unlocks channels outside the cartoon network!