"Making Human-Robot Interaction Enjoyable"

Sounds easy, I wish it was!

Scholarships available for Master of Human Interface Technology

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Research | 0 comments

We are delighted to announce that application for Master of Human Interface Technology and its scholarships are open for July intake in 2015.

The Master of Human Interface Technology (MHIT) programme aims to teach students Human Interface Technology skills and how they can be applied in a research or industry setting. The programme directly engages with industry through projects and scholarship, allowing students to work on real world problems while receiving industry funding. In this way the MHIT degree provides an ideal background for work as an interface designer, or for further study in the field.

The MHIT degree can be completed full-time over 12 to 18 months and this includes three months of taught course work with 9 to 15 months of applied research work.
For this year’s July intake there are six scholarships available:

  • Biomass Mobile Application NZD$12,000 – funded by CRCSI Australia
  • Gesture Interaction in AR/VR systems NZD$24,000 – funded by MBIE, New Zealand
  • Improving the User Experience of the Spike Application NZD$ 10,000 – funded by IkeGS
  • Developing a Reconstruction Application for the Electric Utility Industry NZD$ 10,000 – funded by IkeGPS
  • Volume Estimation from Object Piles NZD$ 10,000- funded by IkeGPS
  • MHIT Scholarship For Speech Database GUI Design – NZD$ 17,000

You can find more details regarding the MHIT programme and scholarships at HITLab NZ official website http://hitlabnz.org/index.php/jobs

If you have any inquiries, please contact us on info@hitlabnz.org

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The 2014 LEGO Minifigure Catalog is now available

Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Design, Featured | 0 comments

The 2014 LEGO Minifigure Catalog is now available

It is my pleasure to announce that the 2014 LEGO Minifigure Catalog is now available. It contains more than 650 Minifigures with detailed photographs and meta data. The book is a whopping 192 pages. I have limited the distribution options to Amazon and hence was able to reduce the price to only $32 USD. This is the biggest year book so far and I dare to say my best one so far.

The book is available for purchase at CreateSpace and at Amazon.com and as an eBook from Lulu. The App will be updated in due time.
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Review Dexter DLight for LEGO Mindstorms

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in Documentation, LEGO, Technology | 0 comments

Dexter Industries offers the DLight for LEGO Mindstorms. It allows you to control four full color LEDs through a sensor port of your EV3 or NXT. The first thing to do is to set the toggle switches on each LED to a unique address, so that you can control each LED individually. In the NXT-G environment you can still decide to control all of them at the same time if desired. The biggest nuisance is that only the first LED can use its red component. The other three cannot show any red light. Dexter acknowledges this bug in its forum and offers refunds. It is ridiculous that Dexter does not warn its customers on its product page, in particular since they do not intend to fix this problem.

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LEGO Volvo 42030 Loader with SBrick

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in Design, LEGO | 0 comments

Today I finally had the chance to unpack and test my SBrick. I build this Bluetooth LEGO Power Functions brick into my Volvo 42030 Loader. A profile for this LEGO model was already available in SBricks social profile database. I could just download the profile and configure it. Configuration entails defining what motor is attached to what port. You can also invert the direction of each motor if necessary. Once the profile is downloaded an configured, it works like a charm. The best part is the proportional control. You can steer a little bit right. With the IR control from LEGO it is all or nothing control.

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Merging even and odd pages into a PDF document on Mac OS X

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Documentation | 0 comments

Recently me and my father digitized two large books. My father did the bulk of the work by photographing more than 1200 pages. He first photographed all the odd pages and then all the even pages. As with any repetitive task, errors occurred and he missed a few pages.

All the even pages were in one folder and all the odd pages in another. The goal was of course to merge them into a single PDF document. If it wasn’t for the occasional missing pages this could have been straight forward. Just use Apple’s Automator to rename all the files. Automator allows you to give a bunch of files a base name followed by a serial number.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 4.27.45 pm

The trick is to serialize the odd pages 1-1200 (e.g. drewes0102) and then the even pages in exactly the same way. This is possible since the even and odd pages are still in separate folders. Next you can use Automator again to add a suffix to the file names.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 4.30.18 pm

Give the “a” suffix to the odd pages and the “b” suffix to the even pages. You can then move all the files into one directory. They will be sorted as:

drewes0001a
drewes0001b
drewes0002a
drewes0002b…

The last step is to either use Adobe Acrobat or Automator to merge the individual files into a single PDF document. For the automator option you first need to create a PDF document only for the even pages and one for the odd. The “Shuffling pages” options allows you in a third step to combine these two PDF documents into one.

Since there were certain pages missing this solution was not sufficient. If for example page 3 was missing then the sequence would be:

1,2,5,4,7,6

It would also be great if the book’s page number would correspond to the PDF document page number. Meaning that if you got to page 103 in the PDF file, you would like to see page 103 from the book. The solution was to include white dummy pages for the missing pages.

The following pages then all need to be re-serialized.  Meaning that you first have to move all the good page into a dedicated directory, call it “good images”. Add the white dummy pages with the the right serial number manually. You then rename all the remaining files in the original directory. I decided not to use the a/b suffix solution described above, but to re-serialize the files with an increment of 2. That way I could continue to look at each page scan and ensure that the page number in the scan was the same as its file name number. Jürgen Brandstetter was so kind to help me writing a small script to rename the files:

declare -i i=1; 
for file in *.jpg ; 
    do new=$(printf "%04d.jpg" "$i"); 
    mv "$file" "rename/drewes"$new; 
    i=$[$i+2]; 
done

In this script i defines the starting number of the renaming. The script searches for all the files that end in .jpg and renames them starting with i. In case of the missing page 3 it would have to be for all of the following pages i=5. It is also important to notice that a directory called “rename” needs to present in the image folder. The renaming is done by moving the files into this directory.

I created a simple text document and saved it as script rename_serial_odd.sh on the desktop. Use the Terminal to make that file executable with:

chmod +x rename_serial_odd.sh

You should then use the Terminal to get to the directory in which the files are that you intend to rename and that also include the rename folder. You can then call the script as:

/Users/yourUserName/Desktop/rename_serial_odd.sh

You need to complete this process for both the even and the odd pages. The advantage of this method is that you can always check the filename against the page number of the book. Once you complete the adding of dummy pages and renaming the files,  I moved the even and odd pages into one directory. The last step was to use Acrobat to merge all the files into a single PDF.

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Academic Freedom

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Culture | 0 comments

Distinguishing the signal from the noise is one of the main challenges in science. Scientists are trained to understand and judge the uncertainty in the world. We discuss our results and their limitations in articles and their merit is judged through the peer review process. Often these academic discussions have no immediate influence on the lives of the people around us, people who are not trained at interpreting statistics.

Italy has a tradition for lengthy legal proceedings and the recent overturn of six manslaughter convictions for Italian earthquake scientists is no exception. They were part of an expert panel discussing the earthquake risks for the south Italian city of L’Aquila on March 31st 2009. The citizens felt reassured and many decided to spend the night inside their houses. It is argued that 29 out of the 309 victims of the tragic earthquake in that night felt victim to this decision.

The six scientists and Bernardo De Bernardinis, who in 2009 was deputy head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department, were originally sentenced to six years in jail in an October 2012 trial. The trial caused an international outcry amongst scientists. How could we continue to discuss science in public when there is a chance that we could get jailed for it? How can we contribute to expert panels that advice policy makers? Earthquake scientists know and understand the uncertainty associated with their predictions. Could they be punished for the ignorance of their fellow citizens?

Judge Marco Billi justified his verdict by arguing that the panel had carried out a “superficial, approximate and generic” risk analysis. It is rare that judges participate in a scientific peer review process, but in this case it happened.

In the appeal court judge Fabrizia Francabandera acknowledged that the scientists could not have predicted the earthquake and overturned the original verdict with one exception. De Bernardinis received a two year sentence for his role in communicating with the public.

This is certainly a relief for many scientists, but the controversy around this case is directly relevant not only for New Zealand’s earthquake scientists, but for all scientists. For science to work we need to be able to make mistakes and to openly discuss our results. If society aims to prosecute us for the work we do for them then we better hire an army of lawyers. I think we could spend our money more wisely. We should invest into the scientific education of our students.

Given the two year sentence for De Bernardinis I will certainly be more careful when talking to the media in the future. I do not want to be held responsible for not warning the world about the upcoming robot uprising.

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Die Chronik der Drewes

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015 in Documentation | 0 comments

Together with my father I digitized the German book “Die Chronik der Drewes” by Hans Troebs. It is 2127 pages of part one and two. It has been a major effort to photograph and OCR the whole book. This book is about the family history of the family Drewes all across Germany. Here is the German summary:

Die Chronik der Drewes, Dreves, Drews, Drefs, Dreffs, Drebes, Drebs, Dreps, Drewsen, Drewis, Drevsen, Trebes, Trebs, Troebes, Tröbs, Troebs, Tröps, Tröbus, Trebst, Trübst, Troebst, Trebitz, Tröbitz, Trebesius, Trebus, Trebbus, Trebuß, auch Drees, Drebus, Dröbus, Trebuth, Trebbuth, Tributh, Trips, Treibs, Trebsdorf.

Eingebettet in die allgemeine Geschichte und eingebunden in das Leben ihrer Heimat, mit der Entstehung ihres Familiennamens aus namenloser Zeit plötzlich auftauchen und dann fortleben durch die Jahrhunderte bis zur weitgefächerten Verbreitung in der Gegenwart. Mit Einblicken in die Ortschroniken, Rückblicken auf die früheren Jahrhunderte, mündlichen und schriftlichen Überlieferungen, Stammfolgen, Lebensläufen und Lebensdaten sowie Wappen und Bildern von den Familien, von den Wohnorten, Häusern und Höfen, in ihrer Mannigfaltigkeit erforscht, dargestellt und herausgegeben.

It is very rare book and not even available on the second hand market. So we took the effort to make it available for a small fee.

 

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