Botacon is almost here! Check out these talks!

Botacon is a gathering of roboticists and robot enthusiasts to discuss the future. Themed “Robots For A Better Future,” the day is set up to explore both the practical and philosophical aspects facing robots today.

We are excited to announce the schedule and look forward to seeing you on Saturday! (This schedule is subject to change)

9:00 AM Load in. Volunteers arrive and help set up
10:00 AM Doors open and tickets are available
10:30 AM Opening remarks
11:00 AM Ilan Moyer – Gestural Design: Product Design in an Age of Personal Fabrication

In the 1980’s, desktop publishing empowered ordinary people with no typographic training to produce beautiful documents which rivaled the work of professionals. Product design is now poised on the precipice of a similarly pivotal transition. In a manner analogous to the introduction of the Apple LaserWriter in 1985, low-cost personal fabricators such as the Makerbot are on a trajectory towards placing a means of professional-level production in the hands of individuals. However, a piece is still missing. Equally important to the Macintosh and the LaserWriter in the birth of desktop publishing were programs such as PageMaker and MacPublisher – tools which automated the highly skilled profession of typesetting. Will the birth of “”desktop product design”” look similar to that of desktop publishing? Can the arts and skills of mechanical and electrical engineering, industrial design, and programming be automated and abstracted so that the ordinary person can wield their powers when designing their own products? Or will our perception of what constitutes a product change to match our abilities? Based on my work in product design, personal fabrication, and machine design, I would like to address these questions and share with you the lessons that I’ve learned through my struggle to design products for an audience of one.

11:20 AM Mr.Kim and John Sarik – Makerbot Printable Transistors and OLEDs

Printable transistors and OLEDs are possible today. We want people to go home and start working on building transistors! This talk covers the essential info needed for you to get started. First, a visit to the Columbia Laboratory for Unconventional Electronics where transistors are printed today. Then we go dumpster diving at Arts and Crafts stores and your local super market for possible alternatives. Finally, we present our progress and experiences printing with Makerbots and welcome others to join our cause.

11:40 AM Kio Stark – 9 Ways to Make Your Robot Come to Life

I’ll explain 9 strategies for successfully anthropomorphizing robots. How it looks matters, but what’s exciting is that it matters a lot less than things like responsiveness, timing, movement quality, sensitivity to input, and other variables. Using data from humanoid robotics experiments, I’ll show you how you can enhance the illusion that your Bot lives!

12:00 Noon Dustyn Roberts – 3D without the glasses: Making assemblies of parts

One of the comments mentioned “designing multi-part assemblies” as a good tutorial topic. So I’d like to help out! Using Alibre Design, a free to try – cheap to buy modeling software, I’ll talk about why you would want to go 3D in the first place, what the basic landscape looks like, and how to make assembly files with individual parts to make sure everything fits together.

12:20 PM Quick Talks – Five speakers will each give a five minute talk on a variety of topics.

  • Raphael Abrams’ nine step program to make a robot puppet that will haunt your dreams
  • Chris Connor will share classroom applications for 3D printers
  • MakerBlock will explain how to be a robot dad
  • Amy Hurst and Marty McGuire – Nickel for Scale – automatically customizing 3D objects to fit YOU!
  • Adam Mayer – Tiny Robots Everywhere

1PM Break for lunch – Not Ray’s Pizza Sponsored by MakerBot Industries
2PM Heather Knight – Robotic Touch: Using Capacitive Sensing to understand Human Body Language.

Touch is one of the most intimate of our senses. Our strongest emotional bonds, with lovers, pets, children or fellow sportsmen, are highly tactile. It is archaic. It is innate. An unobtrusive tap on the shoulder from a waitress will result in higher tips, even if people don’t remember that it occurred. The Sensate Bear is an exploration of this elusive sensation as part of the Huggable project at the MIT Media Lab. Fifty-six capacitive sensors cover its pink foam surface; they are tuned to interpolate between each other and can sense contact through a teddybear fur. Let us introduce and lead you on a tour of this handmade robot. For example, we chose capacitive sensors because they respond to people but not to inanimate objects. You can make a touch-sensing robot too! Learn some basic techniques, get jazzed up about analog sensing and get ready to implement some basic pattern recognition algorithms!

2:20 PM Zach Smith – Compilers of Industrial Revolution 2

3D Printers are the physical equivalent of software compilers. They are going to play a pivotal role in the future of the Open Source Hardware movement, or as we like to call it: Industrial Revolution 2. There is much yet to be done, and this is a frontier with many challenges to face. These are challenges you can solve and become a rockstar of the open source hardware community in the process. Do you want in?

2:40 PM George Hart – Cool Geometric Forms

Robotic layered assembly is revolutionizing what can be made in the world of cool geometric forms. George will show some of his experiments with the technology of the recently possible in 3D printing.

3:00 PM Ben Combee – Put a Web Server on Your Bot!

There are many advantages of putting your robot on the web by having it run a webserver. I’ll talk about applications of the Webduino code and why this is an effective way to get data from your robot or issue it commands.

3:20 PM Rob Gilson – State of the Replicators

A discussion of the future of self-replicating additive machines. Printable electro-magnets, circuitry, super-strength printed titanium, and the inevitable replicator industrial revolution that will follow. This is a look at both existing state of the art replicators and the future, where we will use the iterated progression of this technology to revolutionize everything. The open source 3D printer will be the biggest disruptive technology of the next hundred years. This talk will outline how it will happen in the next decade.

3:40 PM Erik de Bruijn – Open source innovation: On empowerment, architecture and ecosystems

It is unprecedented that the distributed phenomenon of open source development is thriving in hardware as it does in open 3D printing. It is an empowering technology, that can be used in many ways, both by fueling other innovations and by furthering the development of fabrication technologies themselves. The powerful co-existence of user-founded businesses and the embedded/embedding communities, only highlights the importance of good architecture where collaboration is facilitated. In this talk, Erik will present results from his RepRap research, provide (some) theory and invite you to collaboratively reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of current and future platforms to best catalyze the massive potential that our communities have.

4:00 Laura Greig – Helping Paintbots Become More Than Printers

It is easy to offend a traditional painter with any attempt to teach a robot to paint: surely painting is too human an act to emulate with technology. It requires soul and emotion and all those mysterious properties that keep robots and animals on the intellectual sidelines. Likewise, it is easy to offend a technologist with a traditional art class: the lessons are wishy-washy, everything is permissible, and anyone lacking innate talent is doomed to failure. Paintbots considerate (and critical) of both these camps have a better chance of survival in the world. I have made an effort to systematize what I’ve learned in years of traditional art classes, museum trips and art history books, according to the way I’ve seen sophisticated AI behave. The central strategies employed by the best painters (patience, steadiness, repetition, pattern-recognition, chemical analysis, etc) play to robots’ strengths. Art can be as rigorous and empirical a discipline as any other and I would like to see more robots taking it seriously.

4:20 Iem Heng and Andy Zhang – Autonomous and Non-Autonomous Flexible Robot

Our Flexible Robot is a unique robot. It is comprised of a novel combination of off-the-shelf items, as primary components, with some additional components designed and fabricated by ourselves at the college machine shop. One human could operate a squad of these devices, allowing most to perform their function and attending only to those which may require assistance. It will provide a stable platform from which it may perform its ancillary functions. These might include: explosives removal, lifting or shifting of heavy material (as in forestry, mining or rubble removal), or in the delivery of life and property saving equipment, sensors and communication in locations where there would be possible great harm to humans performing these tasks. Moreover, as devices, one person could supervise a team of such robots, enhancing productivity and safety of the operator.

4:40 PM Closing remarks
5:00 PM Mingling and cleanup
6:00 PM Self organize dinner with your robot friends in Brooklyn
9:00 PM Drinkup – Location to be announced. Beer sponsored by Make: Magazine

Make: Magazine, which spotlights fantastic makers and work in the maker community will be sponsoring Botacon. Expect to see lots of magazines around at the event and some Make: Magazine sponsored beer at the drinkup after the event!

Make: Magazine loves robots and we at Botacon recommend that every roboticist get a subscription!