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Japanese Company Shows Robot Co-Working With Humans (Video)

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 03:27 AM PST

nextage feat

We’re one step closer to the Robocalypse: Japan-based Kawada Industries has developed a humanoid robot that’s specifically designed to work alongside human beings. The so-called Nextage is certainly not the first robot of its kind, but his specs are pretty impressive, and he’s already commercialized, too.

Nextage is equipped with a high-speed stereo-camera and two arms that have 12 joints each and can be positioned within 30 microns. When a human worker gets near, the robot stops working immediately for safety reasons.

Kawada explains:

We’ve created these robots to work alongside people, and to cooperate with people in the same environment. Work done by people doesn’t involve handling large objects or moving very fast. Our aim is for industrial robots to do human work like that, so people can be more productive by working together with robots.

In the video below however, you can see three networked Nextage robots at an exhibition in Tokyo assembling objects by themselves (and showing the finished products to the crowd) – no human help needed:

Video courtesy of Diginfo TV

Amazon: Kindles Are Flying Off The Shelves (But We’re Still Not Sharing Numbers)

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 03:16 AM PST


Amazon this morning pounded itself on the chest once more for selling Kinde devices as if they were hotcakes, particularly during last (Black) Friday. According to the company, it was the “best Black Friday ever” for the Kindle family, with Kindle sales “increasing 4x over last year”. As usual, don’t expect Amazon to share hard sales numbers, because they never do.

We’ll have to do with analyst estimates, which I’m sure will be rolling in during the course of this week (today is Cyber Monday and will likely result in another sales spike for Kindle devices). The number does run in the millions, of course, and Dave Limp, Kindle VP, is quoted as follows:

"Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we'd already sold millions of the new Kindle family.”

Amazon also reiterated, again, that its tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, is its bestselling product on In fact, they say this has been the case for the past 8 weeks now, since the device was introduced on September 28.

Related: Black Friday E-Commerce Spending Up 26 Percent To A Record $816M; Amazon Most Visited Retailer

Panasonic To Start Selling Android Phones In Europe (And Possibly The US)

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 02:03 AM PST


In the post-iPhone era, a lot of things changed in Japan, once the most admired country in the mobile world. The number of cell phone manufacturers, for example, has fallen from 13 to five after massive consolidation and re-organization, and all of the remaining players fight with a shrinking and rapidly greying domestic market.

That’s one of the reasons why Nippon’s cell phone makers have been talking about going international for a long time (years after basically all of them gave up on the world market), but now Panasonic seems to be ready to get serious.

Japan’s biggest business publication, The Nikkei, is reporting that the company is currently trying to strike a deal with a major telco in Europe to bring smartphones (Android handsets) to the continent. Apparently, Panasonic is thinking about whether to build the phones in one its own plants in South East Asia or outsource production to another company.

If all goes well, Panasonic also plans to eventually offer Android handsets in Asia and North America. The company has sold 4.4 million phones last year, but it wants to sell 7.5 million units internationally (per year) by 2015.

The picture above shows the Panasonic LUMIX Phone 101P that’s currently on sale in Japan and features Android 2.3, a 4-inch QHD LCD screen with 960×540 resolution, a 13.2MP CMOS Lumix sensor, a waterproof body (IPX5/7), Wi-fi, infrared connection, e-wallet function, and a digital TV tuner.

Gadgets Week in Review: Shopping Bag

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 01:00 AM PST

Kindle DX Gets Temporary Price Cut – But How Long Can This Jumbo E-Reader Last?

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 01:03 PM PST


Amazon’s extra-large Kindle DX is available this weekend (which is to say for the next few hours) for the low, low price of $259, down from its normal $379. It’s telling that even the lowered price still seems ridiculously high, considering that smaller but more advanced models are selling for under $100. How long can this outlier live in a world dominated by cheap, pocketable, touchscreen e-readers?

In its current form, the fact is it’s likely on its way out. The Kindle Keyboard and indeed the graphite look in general are on their way out, to be replaced by the lighter, thinner, more touchable new generation. But there’s a problem: the DX is one of the very few e-readers that doesn’t use the same 6″ E-Ink screen as everyone else. Amazon probably knows there’s demand there, but perhaps the time is not yet right to strike.

As you no doubt remember, the Fire was rumored even before its release to be the first of two or more tablets; the next one is supposed to have a larger screen. Makes sense. Amazon wanted to test the waters, and the 7″ tablet was a much easier way to do that. The popularity of the tablet (despite a lukewarm critical reception) doesn’t guarantee a larger version, but I think Amazon would be fools not to do it.

What does this have to do with the DX? As long as they’re unveiling one big e-reader, why not two? Okay, that’s not very convincing. But the DX is a fish out of water right now, and it needs to be either replaced or put out to pasture. I think Amazon is going to keep the large e-reader as a premium option, but it needs more time to engineer it. Who knows, maybe they’re waiting on the next set of screens from E-Ink.

If I had to prophesy, I’d expect a late-summer event with a bigger Fire (the “Flame” maybe?) and a bigger, improved DX, and depending on E-Ink, perhaps an improved screen. By that time, remember, the high-res iPad 3 will supposedly be out, as will a few other high-res tablets that will offer a superior reading experience owing to their superior displays, LCD as they may be.

Personally, I can’t wait for a decent large-screen e-reader. These little ones are frustrating and it saddens me to see the leaders of the e-reader industry putting out products that are scarcely distinguishable from one another.

[via The Digital Reader]

“Promising Unlock” For The iPhone 4S Discovered

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 12:54 PM PST

4s unlock

Most folks spent their Thanksgiving weekend ensuring that every inch of their intestinal track was thoroughly covered in gravy. Others spent it trying to get just drunk enough that their relative’s worst habits were bearable.

A select few, however, spent the weekend doing something pretty much only they can do: hacking the heck out of the iPhone. As a result, everyone waitin’ and wishin’ for an iPhone 4S carrier unlock has something to be thankful for.

It’s not quite a done deal just yet, but iPhone Dev-Team star MuscleNerd tweeted out that a “promising 4S unlock” had been discovered after a bit of Turkey-fueled hacking.

Oddly, his tweet goes on to confirm that this unlock works only with the 4S (and not the iPhone 4), suggesting that it relies on a hardware-level exploit that went overlooked during the 4S’ creation. While such exploits are increasingly rare, they’re also considerably more challenging for Apple to patch post-manufacturing.