The best two releases this week are animated. Disney’s Tangled was an absolute hoot on the big screen, and will be just as funny and fun filled on smaller screens, I feel certain. If you haven’t seen it, now is your chance. Be warned that in this movie the horse pretty much steals every scene he is in, which I found amazing for one simple fact; he does not get a single word of dialog. This one is being released in every format up to and including 3D.
The TV series worth noting this week is not sci-fi, but science: The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide. This one was built as part of the BBC 2 Open University project, and is in fact a collage level course for the price of a DVD TV series.
Evangelion: 2.22 You Can [Not] Advance brings us the updated second quarter of the re-imagined series. When completed, the four feature length films will take less total viewing time than the original 26 episodes and two movies although to be fair one of the movies was a retelling of episodes 25 and 26 to arrive at an alternate ending. Even so, they are getting all the key story line, plot twists, and character development of the original into them. To make it all fit, they are skipping a lot of the less important giant mecha vs. alien battles and just showing the critical ones. Whether you consider this an improvement or not depends to some extent on why you liked the original series, but I find that it makes for a denser story moving at a faster pace. While I haven’t heard of any plans to turn the new Manga series into an Anime yet, I should mention that Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse Graphic Novel 3 is being released by Dark Horse Comics this week as well.
The fantasy epic Guin Saga Collection 1 will also be released this week. Their homeland invaded, their parents slain, the prince and princess of Parro flee by means of a strange device hidden in the palace. It deposits them in the Forest of Rood, where a cat headed warrior named Guin saves them from their enemies; and so the story begins.
The person in the video below was built, not grown. He is the Geminoid DK, and he was assembled at the Intelligent Robotics Lab at Osaka University, the next in a long line of androids they have been developing there. Also called the Ishiguro Lab after the chief scientist, Hiroshi Ishiguro, their first realistic android was modeled after its creator, and the latest one was built for and modeled after Associate Professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark. Not all of them were a success; in the final clip,the adult woman android now has a job answering questions for the IEEE, but the little girl android modeled on Ishiguro’s daughter has been retired because she thought it was creepy in the extreme. So cheer up, when it comes to our new Evil Robot Overlords, we may be living in the middle of my favorite Pogo quote: We have met the enemy, and he is us!
This is just one of a series of edutainment videos put together by IRrelavent Astronomy staring a ton of Sci-Fi actors; in this episode, Ed Wasser is the robot, while Wil Wheaton is The Professor. This series is presented by the Spitzer Science Center, and you will find a lot of fun videos there.
Yes, this isn’t a joke… this is the first Robot Comedian built so far. Heather Knight built the bot and did the programing, and it was presented as part of a TED Woman event held in Washington, D.C., a month or so back (December of 2010 for those viewing this down the road).
The folks over at Robot Japan just held the 1st Robot Japan Dance Competition on Sunday, January 9, 2011 in Tokyo. This video has some clips from that contest, with several different entrants, and it is worth watching just for the silliness factor. There are a few worth noting for the skill and ingenuity that went into their construction and programing, mostly towards the end of the video.
And one of them, the Kabuki bot, is very reminiscent of the wonderful days when Steampunk Japan was created. From 1600 to 1900, from the Edo to the Meiji periods, Karakuri or Clockwork Dolls were designed and built, mechanical robots who’s movement and logic tree choices were based on mechanical programming rather than electronic. At the beginning it was imported technology, based on Swiss gearboxes (mostly watches and clocks with the occasional Mecha built into a cuckoo clock) brought over by Portuguese sailors. It didn’t take long for some truly smart artisans to grasp the basic principles and start designing their own, starting with a tea serving robot who would bring you your cup, wait while you drank, and take the empty back. To the best of my knowledge this was the very first practical implementation of household robotics in any form, and at the core of Japan’s current supremacy in the field; they have now been building them for 400 years, after all.
Filmed at the CES the other week; they have some interesting robot kits you can build. The first video is the best smartphone app controlled kitty toy ever made, you can drive your cats absolutely nuts with this one. If you are looking for details, check their website.