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September 08, 2010 - Image 15

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-08

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8B Wednesday, p

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THE BIGGEST & NEWEST BACK TO SCHOOL
TEE SALE
4OOx

SMART APPLIANCES
What if you had the ability to come
home after a long day of class and com-
mand your kitchen appliances to pre-
pare your favorite meal? Or have your
radio automatically play your favorite
songs? This could one day be com-
monplace in households around the
world with technology developed by
John Marshall, assistant professor at
the School of Art and Design and the
Taubman College of Architecture and
Urban Planning.
Marshall's creation, Tea House for
Robots (THR-33), consists of a group
of three robotically designed hybrids
that are a mix of common household
appliances and motor vehicles, each
with specific behaviors. These include
TST_003 (a toaster), RDO_002 (a
radio) and MXR_011 (a stand mixer).
To showcase the technology, Mar-
shall displays the three robots in a 9' x
9' x 6' Japanese-style tea house made
out of layers of laser-cut synthetic
paper that are sewn together. This
house provides the means for humans
to interact with the robots, through
a program called the OMRON Smile
Scan, a face detecting technology con-
nected with the tea house in the form
of "eyes."
By compiling data on facial proper-
ties from about a million people over 10
years, the program is capable of mea-
suring the degree of someone's smile
from 0% to100%.When a person grins
into a camera outside of the house, it
consequently determines how wide
the tea house "eyes" open.
If the person smiles largely enough
to cause the tea house "eyes" to open
wide, they allow a direct line of vision
between themselves and the robots.
This allows the robot to "see" the per-
son, activating the robot's infrared
sensors.
When the toaster robot "sees"
someone, it becomes illuminated from
the inside and starts its toasting cycle,
extending its toasting arms forward to
await slices of bread. The radio begins
to play sounds, and the mixer begins to
spin away from the human and begin
mixing.
This revolutionary idea for interac-

TSLOO03, ahybrid
toastar robot cre-
ated by trot. Jobs
Marsbatl as yart
at bis yroect, Te-
House for Robots.
Photo courtesy of
Jobn Marshall
tive appliances could extend beyond
the realm of Marshall's Japanese tea
house. The notion of smart appli-
ances could extend to nearly anything
around the modern home, making it
possible for appliances such as wash-
ing machines to run on command and
immediately know what type of wash
it should begin, or lights to turn on
to specific preferential settings. Ulti-
mately, it could meana whole new way
of living.
- BETHANYBIRON
GLUCOSE TATTOOS
A diabetic who needs to check his or
her insulin levels currently needs to
draw blood. But one University pro-
fessor has made great strides toward
making testing for glucose levels as
easy as wearing a temporary tattoo.
EngineeringProf.JoergLahanncre-
ated particles with multiple, defined
compartments. These types of par-
ticles can be filled with dye so the front
and back are two different colors - for
example, yellow and red - and would
show a different color depending on
chemical levels. This way, individu-
als can optically distinguish between
the two colors and the particles can be
used as a diagnostic system to detect
levels of certain molecules.
The surfaces of one of the compart-
ments - say, the yellow compartment
- contains antibodies, but the other
one is unbinding. If a patient wants to
test, say, glucose levels, the particles
will only link to that side, and will
align in such a way thatconly the yellow
color is visible. Once the glucose levels
become stable, the particles fall apart
and the color becomes orange - a mix
of the two.
The particles work as a "temporary
diagnostic tattoo," Lahann says. They
stay in your skin for about four months
before they need tobe replaced.
"It's almost like a check-engine
light," Lahann said. "So it's like, 'hey,
you're dehydrated, drink some water.'
So, if you have a reduction in the water
level ... you could essentially detect the
color change and you drink and it gets
better."
- JENNA SKOLLER

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