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Robot Doctor

A new robot can detect when someone has an accident and check their vitals signs, all while dialing 9-1-1 for help. Credit: University of Massachusetts

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Toyota Motor Corp.’s new violin robot performs during a press unveiling in Tokyo Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007. Compared to a virtuoso, its rendition was a trifle stilted and, well, robotic. But Toyota’s new robot plays a pretty solid “Pomp and Circumstance” on the violin. The 152-centimeter (five-foot)-tall all-white robot used its mechanical fingers to push the strings correctly and bowed with its other arm, coordinating the movements well

Tablets seem to be the next big thing as far as computing involved; their extreme portability and impressive functionality bridge the gap between a cellular phone and a full-size computer. But as great as tablets are, they still lack an external keyboard – and as much as we love our mobile phones, they lack the screen real estate we need for certain tasks. So designers In-oh Yoo and Sun-woong Oh have taken a tablet device and a mobile phone, put them together in a dark room, and let them do their thing – the result was the Smartbook concept.

Their Smartbook would consist of two pieces: the main piece is a 7″ tablet, and the foldable second piece acts as a full-size keyboard. When you want to use the tablet for typing, you connect the two pieces, prop the tablet up like a monitor on the included pop-out stability piece and type away just like on a laptop or desktop computer. While the two pieces are connected, they can share power – so if one needs to be charged and the other has a full charge, the latter shares a charge with the former.

The two pieces also function together as a phone. The folding piece works as the handset and phone keypad when folded. But the actual hardware required for making and receiving phone calls is contained within the tablet piece, allowing the handset to be smaller and lighter. Of course, you would have to keep both pieces together to be able to use your phone, but since the tablet itself is so tiny, it seems a small price to pay for carrying all of that functionality around with you.

As far as laptop concepts go, it’s hard to find something truly new. The form remains basically the same, no matter how it functions. But designer Tommaso Gecchelin has come up with a surprising new configuration that combines the best of a notebook, netbook and tablet. His MacBook Touch design can go from the basic screen-and-keyboard layout to a full-size tablet to a two-sided tabletop display with ease. It’s not a dual-screen setup; rather, it’s one flexible touch screen integrated with the as-yet not invented technology called iSpine that will allow it unprecedented flexibility. The designer compares it to the flexibility of the human spine, though we’ve never seen a human spine bend like this.

Although it wasn’t commissioned by Apple and may never end up seeing production, the design is truly a thing of beauty. Imagine having all of these configurations at your fingertips without having to buy multiple devices. When fully extended, the display is the size of a sheet of A4 paper but doesn’t have any “dead” space in the middle; you can even bend it all the way “backwards,” making it an ideal ebook reader. OLED technology is making this type of of device more and more possible.

The Magic Dock, a thin external device that houses the power and USB ports, twists to create a stand on which the computer sits when it’s fully extended. The MacBook Touch would also come with an iPen, an input device that would work much like the stylus of any tablet PC. When in a notebook configuration, the “keyboard” would be an on-screen touch keyboard, much like the one currently in use on the iPhone and iPod Touch. A wireless full-size keyboard would be available as an accessory, also.

Of course, Apple doesn’t typically pick up ideas from third-party designers, but much of what Gecchelin proposes seems to be in line with the way notebook technology is moving. We are increasingly demanding machines that are more portable, more adaptable, and more multi-functional. The bendy, completely customizable display of Gecchelin’s design would allow the sort of freedom that it’s hard to find on any existing laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Even if Apple doesn’t produce it, it seems pretty feasible that we’ll be seeing this type of notebook sometime in the near future.

Though many cool designs have been offered for the laptops of the future but digital roll is really awesome and unique concept designed by Hao Hua. D Roll Laptop can be considers as “next generation laptop design,” as it does away with the book-like form factor in favor of one mimicking an artist’s scroll. Whether or not something like this will even be possible in the near future seems to matter less when you look at how much effort Hua put in the design.

Though it’s just a concept but the design is inspiring and would definitely catch the eyes of other designers wishing to create a better-looking and practical laptop. If this hits the market, it would be swept off the shelves in no time.

In business a product could have a shorter life if it can’t win the hearts of people and showcase new technology, so take the case of Nokia, who is coming up with the Nokia Morph flexible mobile phone which the company claims include nanotechnology and would immensely benefit its end-users. The main benefit of Nanotechnology is that its components are flexible, transparent and extremely strong. The company believes this latest technology would be a distinctive phone by 2015, but a few technical glitches remained to be solved, like the use of new battery materials etc.

Nokia is known for incorporating new features in its cell phones like Nokia X6 Touchscreen Multimedia Cellphone and Nokia N96 Quad-Band Phone. Since there are only so many ways you can bend a phone, no matter how flexible, Nokia have introduced a further modifier in the shape of motion-recognition. Make the can shape and tilt it to your lips and the handset might search for nearby pubs; roll it like a wheel, however, and it could look for the closest gas station (or, indeed, a specific franchise of gas station which operate the loyalty scheme you’re a member of).

Alternatively the handset could assign different modifiers to different corners being bent initially, or indeed the position, angle, speed or sharpness of the bend. More simply, the point at which the phone is bent could be used to select on-screen graphics rather than requiring a traditional touchscreen; that could be useful for those operating the handset while wearing gloves. Of course, despite flexible OLED panels being available, it’s unclear quite how long they might last in Nokia’s bendy vision of the future.

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