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Look Ma, no arms!

My last post was considered more newsworthy than I thought. In a recent IEEE Spectrum article (Hoaloha Robotics Developing Socially Assistive Hardware Platform), Senior Writer, Evan Ackerman made several important observations and comments that I wanted to respond to. “…but we know is that the robot will likely not include an arm at this time, because there’s no way to add one and still hit Hoaloha’s cost target,…” This is true and deserves some further explanation. Let’s start with the cost of components. A majority of conventional robot arms include six to seven servo motors to get a similar degree of movement that a human arm has. While you might be able to buy or build such an arm with basic hobby servo motors, to hold up to the load and usage patterns, you really need something of higher quality with good gearing, sufficient torque, and little backlash. Such motors…

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Sailing through a perfect storm

In my last entry, I described what motivated me to leave Microsoft and start a new venture to develop software and services for assistive care robots. After reading it, a friend quibbled with my calling the impending needs of the growing senior population a “Silver Tsunami,” noting that a dramatic drop in the sea level usually serves notice that a tsunami is on the way.  He rightly pointed out that in the case of the growing assistive care arena, we’ve been granted no warning ebb: The costs of and demands for resources are just increasing. Considering that the number of available caregivers is decreasing, a more apt analogy for the impending elder care scenario might be “A Perfect Storm.” Our best hope to weather this challenge is to empower seniors to continue to live as independently as possible. Doing so makes a lot of sense. First, studies show that this is…

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I think I’ll try defying gravity

Hello and welcome to my blog. In my first few entries, I will share with you some of what motivated me to start Hoaloha Robotics and my personal vision for how this technology could be an important tool for our future. On November 4, 2009, after a successful career of 28 years of contributions at Microsoft, I officially resigned. It had been an exciting ride where I had an opportunity to start and participate in a number of projects. When I started there, IBM had just entered the PC market, creating a catalyst that would accelerate the already building momentum of the emerging PC industry. Over the past 6 years I have watched what seems to be history repeating itself with the emergence of personal robots, evolving like PCs did from the large, expensive, and not very personal industrial-strength machines.  Like personal robots are today, many of the early PC…

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