Cute wearable robots will crawl all over your body to do your bidding

You can keep your lint rollers, the only thing we want rolling on our clothes, circa 2016, are high-tech miniature robots!

We might not be waiting for too much longer, either, since a delegation of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford showed off their collection of miniature on-body robots at a recent tech conference in Tokyo.

“We introduce Rovables, a miniature robot that can move freely on unmodified clothing,” the researchers note in their paper. “The robots are held in place by magnetic wheels, and can climb vertically. The robots are untethered and have an onboard battery, microcontroller, and wireless communications. They also contain a low-power localization system that uses wheel encoders and [inertial measurement units], allowing Rovables to perform limited autonomous navigation on the body.”

The $1 million question, of course, is what they are going to be used for.

According to the researchers, there are a few possible use-cases. For example, they could crawl out of your pocket and assemble on your arm to create a temporary display while you are en route to work. In another use-case, they could form a makeshift safety light while you are riding a bicycle at night. In others, they could carry out on-body sensing, provide tactile feedback, or serve as interactive clothing and jewelry.

They could even lurk out of sight and then terrorize unsuspecting co-workers on your instructions. OK, so the researchers did not come up with that last use-case!

Ultimately, at present, the Rovables are more an impressive tech demo than anything else. Able to operate continuously for 45 minutes — or considerably longer if they are not moving all the time — they hint at a possible future for wearable devices, in which said wearables are not limited to being strapped to one part of our body.

Just so long as they stay on our side, we are happy for them to exist. Because otherwise this sounds like the start of a Michael Crichton novel.

Mobile

The Cat S48c is the phone for construction workers, or the clumsy

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.
Health & Fitness

Still tired? Smart sleep aids can help improve your snooze

Do you snore? Toss and turn? Alternate between extremely hot and extremely cold body temperatures at night? A deluge of smart sleep technology on the market aims to help you get a better night of shut-eye.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.
Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.
Emerging Tech

A.I. finds non-infringing ways to copy drugs pharma spends billions developing

Researchers have demonstrated an artificial intelligence which can find new methods for producing existing pharmaceuticals in a way that doesn’t infringe on existing patents. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Coinstar machines will let you swap cash for Bitcoin at your local grocery store

Coinstar, the company which owns the coin exchange machines found at grocery stores and elsewhere, will soon let you easily buy Bitcoin with your cash money. Here's how it will work.