Holidaying with Robots: Quirky New Year Gadgets

Robots are becoming a more and more common fixture in our daily life. Even in New York’s biggest concert hall, Radio City Music Hall, drones have become a part of a traditional Christmas show. Dubbed as Christmas Lights, its final scene was developed in collaboration with Intel, a hundred robotic creations of which embellished the performance with four billion unique light combinations. But we at ITMO.NEWS firmly believe that this isn’t the only thing the diligent robots are capable of, and they refuse to put their mechatronic feet up even on holidays. Coming up with an ideal batch of festive cookies, signing a Christmas card with an elegance of a calligraphy master, and even keeping you in check on how much you eat during the New Year’s feast: here’s what we imagine a festive period with robots would entail!

Present wrapping

Find gift-wrapping a perennial pain in the neck? No worries! These electronic guys will gladly do it for you, indulging in some festive singing and dancing while at it. Despite their a bit too lively manifestations of the holiday cheer, the Cozmo team will probably still do the whole wrapping job better than us humans would, so why do we even try, huh?

Signing (or drawing!) a Christmas card

There’s no need in putting yourself out trying to come up with a perfect signature at a Christmas card, either. Cue AxiDraw v3: the most immaculate calligrapher there ever was. You won’t see any wonky lines with this automaton! Just fix it with a pen, pencil, or crayon (any stripe and color will do), plug it into your computer via USB and step aside letting the contraption work its magic. The drawings or writings are assigned through the graphic editor Inkscape.

You may find that watching AxiDraw v3 in action is pleasantly mesmerizing; it did win us over for sure. The result is unquestionably impressive, too, but the only downside is the price; the nifty invention of a Californian company Evil Mad Scientist comes with a steep price tag, so you may want to think twice about signing that card yourself before you commit to this daylight-robbery purchase.

Good on you and your wallet if you know your way in robotics, though, because you can create an AxiDraw-esque construction at a cost that doesn’t make one’s jaw drop. The rest of us can only stand on looking with admiring envy at the whizzkids such as the 14-year-old Sanjay Seshan and his 12-year-old brother Arvind, who’ve assembled their own master-calligrapher from an array of Lego blocks. Сhristened Holiday Card Plott3r, this home robot knows how to print cards based on a number of festive templates, whilst also lovingly signing them as Santa Claus. Aww.

Baking an ideal gingerbread cookie

Still think that Lego is no more than a mere child’s play? Here’s another proof to make you change your mind: the multi-colored bricks can also be used for creating a handy kitchen helper always ready to assist you in baking the perfect batch of cookies. Mindstorms EV3 demonstrates.

Putting an end to overeating

Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, we all tend to indulge in food a little bit more than we should during the festive season. Luckily, there’s a robot that can help us combat our unhealthy tendencies. An ardent advocate of healthy living, Anki Cozmo isn’t afraid to take up arms against one of the biggest cookie consumers, Santa Claus, so we don’t even stand a chance.

Creating a light show

One little-known fact about the drones is that they’re also big party animals, and, akin to their human counterparts, ones with a pretty expensive taste in attire. Here’s them modelling purses during a Dolce & Gabbana fashion show in Milan earlier this year, as an example. One of their more recent outings, however, was a dazzling performance at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, in which they made history by starring in the Hall’s traditional Christmas show alongside humans. Resulting in a magical outburst of color, the unique technology was developed by Intel, who’ve already used it, for instance, at the opening of an Audi car exhibition, making the drones arrange themselves into the company’s logotype.

But you don’t need to put on such a big show in order to tell a good festive tale. Even a couple quadcopters can do the trick, as shown in the video of Ascending Technologies.

Delegating household chores

Ah, what a wonderful holiday it would be if we could forget all the petty things that need to be done, instead letting robots do all of the festive malarkey by themselves. Here’s a Christmas teaser by Italian Institute of Technology making us all envious with its representation of a futuristic paradise: behold robots putting up a Christmas tree, writing letters to Santa Claus (also an automaton), and promptly delivering presents in the hands of their requesters.

Getting back in shape and not oversleeping the first day back to work

There are times when a standard phone alarm clock just doesn’t cut the mustard, and getting yourself up for the first working day after the holidays is one of these hopeless cases. But you can always resort to original solutions such as Clocky, a moving alarm clock that can wake you up in a matter of minutes you spend running after it to express your dissatisfaction with being woken up.

Clocky the (annoying) alarm  clock
Clocky the (annoying) alarm clock

It also doubles up as a hand weight, so you can use it to lose a couple of extra pounds you gained thanks to the tempting abundance of festive dinners: it is only by raising Clocky 30 times that you can calm the annoying little droid down.

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