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Building The World’s Largest Robot Is Not Fun

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Writers are told to write what they know. So why shouldn’t builders build what they know?

That’s exactly what Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo did when he created a giant humanoid inspired by childhood favorite anime series Mobile Suit Gundam.

The fictional RX-78-2 Gundam manned robot—based on Robert Heinlein’s 1959 novel “Starship Troopers”—is a prototype weapon that falls into the hands of a young mechanic-turned-pilot.

The real-life LW-Mononofu is a 28-foot-tall, two-legged robot that weighs more than an elephant. Nagumo controls the machine’s arms and legs from inside the cockpit.

A modern Dr. Frankenstein, Nagumo spent six years constructing his monster—a purpose-built robot to help promote employer Sakakibara Kikai, which develops farming equipment.

The firm also manufactures “amusement machines” that people can operate for fun. Its varied collection includes the 11-foot Landwalker, as well as the smaller Kid’s Walker Cyclops and MechBoxer boxing machine—each of which the firm rents for about 100,000 yen ($900) an hour.

The massive Mononofu, however, could surely command an equally lofty price. There’s just one hitch: It can’t leave the factory without being dismantled, because it was built taller than the workshop doors.

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“I was drawn to things that get you around without having to use your own strength,” Nagumo said in a Great Big Story video. “So, I create machines because of their ability to move on their own.”

As reported in April by Reuters, Nagumo’s colossal cyborg can maneuver individual fingers, turn its upper body, and walk forward and backward—at a pace of about 0.6 miles per hour.

But no one could be fooled by its leisurely clip: Towering over any human, the bot carries a bazooka-like air gun on its right arm, shooting sponge balls at a dangerous 87 miles per hour.

“The reason why I made this [robot] is so everyone can enjoy it, and I think this is one small step closer to my childhood dream,” Nagumo said.

Like many great works of art, though, the long process of building the world’s largest robot was, well … unpleasant.

“It’s [easy to get] burned—it’s heavy, and dirty,” Nagumo explained of his 5-ton apparatus. “There is nothing to enjoy.”

Except, perhaps, the eventual payoff: The original Mobile Suit Gundam series spawned anime and manga, novels, movies, video games, and generations of fans. Who’s to say LW-Mononofu can’t also be turned into a business opportunity?

Or at least inspiration for the future.

“I believe that someday we will create things that people are imagining today,” Nagumo said in the video. “So, if there are are kids like me who get inspired when they see robots they want to create and ride, it would lead to more innovative robots.”

Nagumo even believes his best is yet to come: “[The robots] I used to watch in the anime moved faster and were stronger than humans. So, this is the reason [Mononofu] can’t be my greatest robot yet.”

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Robot Successfully Delivers Coral Babies to Great Barrier Reef

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Call the drone midwife: A robot successfully delivered coral larvae directly onto the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

In a world first, an undersea android dispersed microscopic baby corals as part of a project to to help repopulate parts of the 1,429-mile ecosystem.

The initiative builds on Southern Cross University professor Peter Harrison’s larval reseeding technique, piloted on the southern Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017.

“This year represents a big step up for our larval restoration research,” Harrison said in a statement.

“[It is] the first time we’ve been able to capture coral spawn on a bigger scale using large floating spawn catchers, then rearing them into tiny coral larvae in our specially constructed larval pools and settling them on damaged reef areas,” he explained.

Birthing partner Matthew Dunbabin, a professor at Queensland University of Technology, re-engineered QUT’s reef protector RangerBot into LarvalBot—specifically for Harrison’s project.

With a capacity to carry around 100,000 coral larvae per mission (and plans to scale up to millions), the robot gently releases the tots onto damaged reef areas, allowing them to settle and, eventually, develop into coral polyps.

“During this year’s trial, the robot was tethered so it could be monitored precisely,” Dunbabin said. “But future missions will see it operate alone and on a much larger scale.”

It’s like spreading fertilizer on your lawn,” he added.

Following this year’s initial trial, the pair plan to fully implement their proposal in 2019, using their specialized robot elsewhere in Australia, and around the world.

“With further research and refinement, this technique has enormous potential to operate across large areas of reef and multiple sites in a way that hasn’t previously been possible,” Harrison said. “We’ll be closely monitoring the progress of settled baby corals over coming months and working to refine both the technology and the technique to scale up further in 2019.”

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Waterproof Speaker Showdown: JBL Charge 3 Versus UE Wonderboom

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Protecting your beats from the elements isn’t easy. If a sudden snow or rain storm hits, your wireless headphones or earbuds could be ruined in seconds. However, you could invest in a good waterproof speaker to avoid this tech dilemma.

Waterproof speakers are handy devices if you need music on the go. Whether you’re at a pool party or intimate dinner, waterproof speakers give you good audio and still work if they get wet. Some waterproof speakers, including the JBL Charge 3 and the UE Wonderboom, are Bluetooth-enabled, so they’ll easily play tunes from your smartphone or tablet. Even though both speakers offer different music perks, they share the same mission, which is to play your favorite songs without water damage.

Ready to take the waterproof speaker plunge? Here’s what you need to know if you’re deciding between the JBL Charge 3 and UE Wonderboom for your portable music needs.

Basic Specifications

Photo Credit: Amazon

If you need a speaker that’s great for indoor and outdoor listening, the JBL Charge 3 makes the cut. Its key perks include easy Bluetooth connectivity for calls and music, up to 20 hours of playtime, a completely waterproof body, and a sleek design that works for your living room or patio chair.

The JBL Charge 3 weighs 1.8 pounds and its dimensions are 9.1 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches. When you buy a JBL Charge 3 set, you’ll get the following: a JBL Charge 3 waterproof speaker, a 5V 2.3A USB Adapter, a micro USB cable, a safety sheet, a quick start guide, and a warranty card for $99.95 on Amazon.

Buy it Here

Photo Credit: Amazon

Dropping the base without audio issues is key, and the UE Wonderboom is a waterproof speaker suited for your next party. Whether you’re in the pool or relaxing on the couch, the UE Wonderboom comes with many listening perks, including 360-degree crisp sound, seamless Bluetooth connectivity, up to 10 hours of battery life, and a completely waterproof design.

At only 1.32 pounds, the UE Wonderboom weighs slightly less than the JBL Charge 3 and its dimensions are 4.2 x 4.6 x 5.3 inches. Each UE Wonderboom set comes with an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom waterproof speaker and a micro USB cable for $69.90 on Amazon.

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Listening Benefits

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Indoor and outdoor versatility make the JBL Charge 3 a great waterproof speaker option for your next pool party or shower. With wireless Bluetooth streaming, you can play your favorite beats from your smartphone or tablet in various locations. For an out-of-this world sound experience, it has dual-passive radiators for supreme bass and easily connects with other Bluetooth speakers to double the volume. There’s up to 20 hours of battery life to keep your beats going from day to night. This speaker also comes with a smartphone charging area for impromptu powering.

Buy it Here

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If you’re all about the beats, the UE Wonderboom is a top waterproof speaker pick. It delivers clear 360-degree sound, so you can rock out in the pool or shower without worrying about water damage. Similar to the JBL Charge 3, the UE Waterboom offers seamless Bluetooth connectivity, so you can blast your Spotify playlist or iTunes lineup wherever you are. You’ll only get up to 10 hours of battery life, but you can also sync up the UE Wonderboom with other devices to upgrade your space to a club in minutes.

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The Bottom Line

Photo Credit: Amazon

Indoor and outdoor versatility is a big factor for waterproof speakers, and the JBL Charge 3 works great wherever you want to blast music. Grab your smartphone or tablet and sync it up with the JBL Charge 3 to easily stream beats. It has dual-passive radiators for supreme bass and provides up to 20 hours of playtime, unlike other models on the market. At $99.95, it costs slightly more than other waterproof speakers, but you’ll also get to charge your smartphone and connect to other devices whenever you use it.

Photo Credit: Amazon

At only $69.90, the UE Wonderboom is one of the best waterproof speakers out there that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. For less than $70, you’ll get clear 360-degree sound, easy Bluetooth connectivity for music streaming, and the option to double up on the volume with other connected devices. Even though you’ll only have up to 10 hours of battery life, the UE Wonderboom makes the perfect pool party or shower session companion if you want to sing your heart out.

Buy the JBL Charge 3 here.

Buy the UE Wonderboom here. 

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Puma’s Modernized RS-Computer Shoe Proves Chunky Heels Are In

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The OG smart running sneaker from 1986 is getting an upgrade.

Puma this week announced the reissuing of its RS-Computer shoe.

Considered “extremely advanced” for its time, the footwear featured a computer chip built into the massive heel.

The RS (Running System) automatically recorded users’ time, distance, and calories burned; results were then shared with a connected Apple IIe or Commodore 64 (both discontinued in the early 1990s).

But since no one uses 16-pin cords anymore, the 2018 iteration instead relies on a USB connector to charge the sneakers’ lithium-polymer battery.

The original RS-Computer running shoe had a custom-designed computer chip built into the heel that automatically recorded the time, distance and calories expended (via Puma)

Built-in Bluetooth syncs with the dedicated RS-Computer shoe app for iOS and Android, which uses the same 8-bit graphics seen on ’80s computer screens; an 8-bit game is hidden inside.

Equipped with a miniature 3-axis accelerometer, the shoes can record 30 days worth of measurements, including steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned.

“Every new month is a fresh start,” a company press release said, pointing users toward the app’s Monthly Statistics tab.

The 2018 iteration has new technology but replicates the original experience (via Puma)

Despite impressive technological advancements over the last three decades, though, Puma has chosen to stick with what it (and fans) know: that ridiculous-looking extended TPU heel.

Retailing for €650 ($735), only 86 pairs of the RS-Computer will be available globally, signifying the year it originated. U.S. shoppers can snag a pair online via Kith and Puma.com; or visit select Puma retailers in Tokyo, London, and Berlin.

Technology can be hidden anywhere, from denim jackets to animatronic singing props to sleek footwear.

In 1986, the shoe relayed data to an Apple IIe or Commodore 64 desktop using a 16-pin cord (via Puma)

Earlier this year, Amazfit crowdfunded its first pair of smart sneakers. The shoes can be used with Amazfit’s dedicated running sensor, connected to the Mi Fit mobile app, to track wearers’ activity.

But what does the future hold for the increasingly popular smart-shoe scheme?

An industry-insiders report, published in May, suggests the market will continue growing steadily through 2022.

Since the wearable bubble burst, intelligent footwear has taken its place, offering new and unique opportunities for everyone from athletes to couch potatoes. (Nothing says innovation like high-tops that order pizza and pause live TV.)

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