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8/02/04
It's been awhile since I've updated the geeky list of robot links.  Since that time, a few more of come to my attention... here are just a few:

robots.net     Robot Room     Whitebox Robotics    BDMicro
Aibo             Robot Books    Lynx Motion              Robot Store

I realize a couple of these are repeats... I'm hoping that by saying the name "Whitebox Robotics" 3 times a day, they won't turn into vaporware.  I'm a little concerned though.

Also, I want to buy my grandmother an Aibo since she is a little too up-there in years to keep a real dog.  I've seen a lot of information about research on the subject, but no one has published any findings.  If you can point me in the direction of robotic pets (specifically Aibo) and the elderly, I'd appreciate it.

7/12/04
I just got back from a pretty cool trip to Walt Disney World.  Considering the last time I went was the year BEFORE Epcot opened, there was quite a lot of new stuff to see there.

One of the coolest things, by far, was Pal Mickey.

Pal Mickey, in a nutshell, is a Teddy Ruxpin on steroids.  He runs $56 bucks at most of the official Disney gift./toy shops.  We picked ours up at World of Disney in Downtown Disney.  Rumor has it they used to be available for rent.  I don't know if this is still the case though.

So, you switch him on, venture into one of the four Disney theme parks, and Mickey springs to life as you cross the threshold.  He's packed with cute little stories, some corny, yet funny, jokes and a wealth of trivia about the parks.  Radio transmitters planted around the park inform Mickey of his location, and in some case pass along information such as short ride times at select attractions.

Mickey has a belt clip to make carrying easy.  He will vibrate (and giggle an "Oh Gosh") when he has information to pass on.  There does seem to be a timer involved as well, as he doesn't repeat information until a day or two later. (Information he passed at Epcot the night before didn't get repeated the next day.)  He also warns you about 30 minutes before fireworks or character events so you can make your way there to get a good seat.  After the giggle, you have 15 seconds to press either of Mickey's hands, or belly to get the information he has to pass on.  If you keep pressing within 15 seconds of the completion of the message, he will continue to repeat it. (Helpful with multiple kids, as he isn't loud enough for more than two people to hear well over crowd noise.)  And while he won't repeat a message automatically, he will pass on information again if you are within range of a sensor when you press his hands or belly.  If a  sensor isn't available, he will make a joke or comment related to the last place he was aware of being (such as Adventure Land or Tomorrow Land.)

Mickey has rides he enjoys, and others that scare him.  In at least one instance, that I know of, he will actually talk to you during an attraction. (He pointed out a not-so-noticeable ghost in The Haunted Mansion.) However, most attraction comments are limited to the walk up and walk out.

As previously stated, Pal Mickey works at all 4 parks.  The coolest use of Pal Mickey occurs at Animal Kingdom, where on the Maharajah Jungle Trek he works as your tour guide, offering tips and trivia at the various stations along the way.

Mickey also has 3 built-in games that keep the kids entertained on the way to the park (and in this case, the 9 hour ride home.)

If you're a geek, or a parent, Mickey is a great addition to the trip.

 

David L. Cosner, LCPL, USMC
Lest We Forget
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