Shoulder Robot For The Forever Alone

Don’t have anyone to share activities with? Forget Siri, she’s just a disembodied voice in a box. You need to get yourself a shoulder-mounted robot pal.

The idea behind this design actually has something to do with telepresence. Let’s say you and your best friend want to go check out the local Hackerspace. The problem is that you met your best friend on the Internet and they live thousands of miles away. Well just strap on your shoulder robot and have your friend log on. There’s a camera to give him or her feedback, and twenty degrees of freedom lets them control the torso, arms, and head of the bot in a realistic and creepy way. This works much like a marionette, with motors pulling wires to actuate the robot’s movements. You can get a very brief look at this in the clip after the break.

[via Technabob]

46 thoughts on “Shoulder Robot For The Forever Alone

  1. Of recent, I’ve noticed that HAD seems to be getting more and more inflammatory against the people responsible for the content. In this article: “forever alone.” In another article, someone’s growing success was related to the story of Icarus. Is this really appropriate or engaging? It doesn’t encourage people to work on their projects if they’re going to be demeaned by the very people who report on them.

    1. Not just HaD. Many forums have this problem. The most interesting threads often attract blood-suckers, and they are easy stirred into a feeding frenzy, attacking the most creative people. This can be very demoralizing to the most productive members of these forums, often requiring intervention of site moderators.

      The most productive people even get accused of being TOO productive, making too many posts, being too helpful, and other such harmful comments.

      These non-productive consumers do not understand that if they bring the producers and makers of the things down to their level, they will have nothing interesting left to buy and nothing to do but watch reality TV and make more babies like themselves.

      I think that this physical manifestation of telepresence is VERY interesting, and I want to see more. For the productive developers out there, thank you, and please do not let the blood suckers prevent you from publishing your results.

    2. HaD’s been making passive-aggressive digs at their userbase for a while, which is one (smallish) part of the reason it earned itself a spot in my hosts file for nearly a year.

    3. I suggested an IP seeking cruise missile on the Arduino forum!
      Some of the posters are so damn brave hiding behind a modem it makes me sick.

      Before I hit “submit” or “post”, I usually,


      think, “would I say this in person?”

    4. I think its just a joke and everyone needs to lighten up about (1.0*10^2)%

      It sucks nobody can take a joke anymore. Everything is such SRS BIZ and ‘gee I hope this miniscule comment doesn’t cause someone to go suicide 10 times over’. If you can’t take a tiny offhand comment like ‘forever alone’, then don’t share your stuff with the world. Someone is going to say something you don’t like. You just have to learn how to deal with it rather than curling up into a little ball and crying.

      1. To yours (or Jeri’s point, I guess), yes, there are trolls on HaD. Some real serious assholes. Just ignore them?

        I don’t really consider saying the phrase ‘forever alone’ an earnest attempt at trolling in this case…I don’t think Mike Szczys is trying to talk shit here.

        He’s as much ‘forever alone’ as the rest of us…and I mean that in the best way possible. ;)

        We’re all just a bunch of dorks arguing on a relatively unknown blog (in the grand scheme of things) about robots and electron flow. That is my interpretation of the use of ‘forever alone’ in this blog title.

      2. @ dext0rb: When you say “then don’t share your stuff with the world”, are you recommending that the PRODUCTIVE members stop publishing their new stuff at HaD when they get fed up with the blood-sucking trolls at HaD? I do not understand you and your kind. I am all for freedom of expression, but NOT mob rule. Moderation is important, especially for those who cannot control themselves when they are given the gift of anonymity.

        I deliberately use my own name here, so I never intentionally say disrespectful things while hiding in anonymity, but sometimes I write up really long rants and mostly delete them before submitting.

        There is a common saying about online behavior, which really does apply here at HaD: “normal person + anonymity + audience = total jerkwad”…

      3. When I said “your kind” in my previous post, it was not meant in disrespect, although I see it could be misinterpreted as such. So to clarify that point, what I meant was “apparent advocate of anarchy”. I agree with the the libertarian point of view, but not total anarchy (COMPLETE freedom of expression), which can lead to mob rule and eventual LOSS of freedom. Freedom cannot include destructive behavior, slander, false accusations, or foul language that makes the productive members leave in disgust. IMHO, of course.

      4. @Rob,

        Yes. I propose that “those who cannot handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen”. Make content, share it, ignore the haters, keep on keepin’ on.

        I hope you aren’t taking my comments as malicious …I don’t know what you mean by “you and your kind”. I guess you think I’m a “troll” too. So be it, though. I’m not particularly offended or anything. I have other stuff to worry about, more important things than if Rob from Internetland thinks I’m a jerk.

        Finally…is the inventor of this device even here commenting? Or complaining about anything? Why does your being offended even matter? If this productive content creator is not bothered by the title “forever alone”, then why are you? Why do you make assumptions that the creator is bothered by this so greatly?

        Who is really being the troll here? :)

      1. I realize that the world DOES need places like the 4chan garbage pits, which really do contain some gems buried in there if you can stand the abuse and foul language.

        But hackaday really needs to stay a bit more family friendly in my opinion. People naturally tend to become subhuman when hiding behind anonymity.

    1. Everyone should have the right to be heard, even if you don’t like what they have to say. I’d be against any sort of censorship.
      You have the ability not to listen, and there will always be people who are critical of you. It’s just something people need to learn to live with.

      In fact, it can be a good thing. Criticism is, by far, more useful than praise.

      1. There is a pretty clear line between criticism and constructive criticism. Unfortunately, most people are socially inept and can’t figure out which side of the line to be on.

      2. Even so, I generally see people advocating moderation as a ‘solution’ to the problem, which is almost never the right approach. Deleting a post and pretending it never happened (it did happen) or banning a user outright does nothing but harm in the long-run.
        People aren’t just these spiteful or socially inept monsters who can only be dealt with by removing them from society. They’re people just like you or me. Think about how people react when they’re treated like that. You throw them out of the community, one which could possibly be a positive influence on them, and you force them back into solitude where they can only become more angry, more isolated, and more victimized.

        If someone’s being a douche, you tell them they’re being a douche. You don’t treat them like some sort of sub-human — degrade and exile them.

    2. And I’d like to say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a user comment on HaD that was outright spiteful. Only people who are too sensitive, and take helpful advise as some kind of challenge to their aptitude.

  2. Impressive work. However, I question the need for all of the degrees of freedom, only due to the fact that if the ability to move is there, the need to be able to control that movement is also there. Put more simply, I would think the complexity could be cut. That may just be due to my failure to see into the future wishes of the project.

  3. I’m pretty certain that this is just a joke that fell flat; I’m not sure he realized that he realized that making a reference to “forever-alone” is like making a gay joke. Some people get offended when you make social commentary.

    I think we should be complaining instead that a single youtube video isn’t much of a post.


    HAD is still in it’s adolescence. In order to grow and flourish it needs admins, and these problems are the same problems in any real or online organization, from the catholic church to the navy to Bob’s burgers.

    Usually the job goes to the first guys that agree to stick around. Being qualified to do a good job comes third or fourth. Really, admin competence and suitability isn’t really important for most websites. Someone who will stick around will be the most useful to the site’s owner[s].

    Everything else is of secondary importance.
    Thus, an admin’s trajectory from “hey, this might be interesting” to “my way or the highway” is very common. Admins get abused, and not everyone can take this without slowly becoming passive-aggressive in the process.

    The audience/users/submitters tend to be just as sensitive as the admins. Worse yet, the vocal ones often represent not just themselves, but a significant non-posting segment of the audience. That includes trolls… and safety nazis.

    The problem is that admins (rightly so) eventually begin to lose patience with their audience. It becomes like a marriage where one spouse sees the other as being obnoxious, or worse, useless.

    At Server Fault/Stack Overflow/etc., this has resulted in a situation where many user questions or opinions are marked as pointless/useless and quickly closed. Or severely downvoted by a posse of lifetime users who can silence any user. Unorthodox users are effectively banned.

    As a result, really excellent answers and questions get downvoted into oblivion because an admin simply didn’t have the correct perspective.

    It’s like asking a boxing coach to referee a medical paper about damage to the brain from boxing, or asking a jockey to filter a vet’s comments on what’s best for a horse’s health.

    Often, these guys don’t even realize that they’re not qualified to judge the specific content- after all, they work in the business! After a while, it all looks like repetition to them.

    I think this is a bigger problem than jokes that fall flat. Comedy is hard!

  4. This is pretty cool!

    I agree with the critique that HaD’s writer could have been more creative and (imho) less stereotyping of HaD’s readers in the article. My initial thought on reading about this telepresence robot would have been to suggest that a user of this device could share attendance at an event with someone who is laid up in hospital or otherwise unable to physically attend.

    1. Great idea. I’m now thinking that if the MH-2’s fingers could be controlled, then it (after being tied into other systems such as voice recognition) could be used by someone w/o arm control (quadraplegics, amputees, ?) to sign with their deaf friends, relatives, etc.

      Admittedly, that’s probably a very small “market” of use.

      1. Okay,
        sign language, (I’m not trying to be mean here) Sign language could be conveyed with a video screen
        (or electroluminescence (sp?) wires mapped to finger positions). An Arduino (obligatory inclusion B^) could do voice recognition of the wearer and translate words to ASL (American Sign Language) characters, words, or concepts (tougher)to display.

  5. Sign language is out of the question, as the fingers aren’t articulated; that would require an insane amount of DOF.

    The rest of the DOF are needed for regular body language and gestures, pointing out objects of interest, etc.

    Except one DOF for “realistic breathing”. That crosses the creepy line and could be done away with, in my opinion.

    1. I’ve seen this movement system before. It’s similar to how a bicycle brake cable works.

      Typically, smooth steel wires are used, with no sheath. All wires are run very close together through the exact center of joints, using a low-friction guide (Teflon or Nylon) that’s shaped on the inside like a donut.

      With this arrangement, the distance required for wire to travel through a joint is virtually constant, regardless of the angle of that joint. So the elbow can be moved without affecting the wrist, for example.

      Removing the weight of the motors from the arms increases agility, producing the elegant motion you observed.

      The only problem is that it doesn’t scale up well. As the amount of force required increases, so does the amount of sliding friction produced by wires through bent joints; until wear and binding become issues.

      And that’s why hydraulics and pneumatics are more common, as they can transmit force through bends without significant friction.

  6. I love how the comments are filled with a bunch of hypersensitive people just looking for something to knee-jerk about, so desperate for something to go into histrionics over, that they completely miss that “forever alone” is simply a reference to the rage-face-themed Internet memes that have popped up over the past year. “A BLOO BLOO, HACKADAY IS BEING OFFENSIVE TO MY POOR WIDDLE SENSIBILITIES!

    Lighten up, morons.

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