Tag: remote control

D-Link net cam covers all the angles

Want to keep an eye on your yard while you’re down at the Dog and Duck? D-Links wireless pan tilt network camera could be just the job for you.

The DCS-5222L comes with an installation CD, a remote control, a metal camera base and mounting kit, a power cable and an Ethernet cable.  Optionally, you can buy a micro SD card to record what’s going on while hopefully not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

The camera is a dumpy little creature that stands about six inches high, and is equipped with an array of LEDs on its working end and an antenna to pick up your wi-fi.

It works with PCs, Macs, and Linux and supports a number of browsers including IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. It’s got a built in microphone too, if you want to record the spiders having their mysterious conversations while you’re out of sight and site.

Installation is a bit of a doddle. You plug the Internet cable into the back of Mr Dumpy, kick off the installation CD and off you jolly well go. Once you’re up and running, you can use your PC, your smartphone or your tablet to view what’s going on in your den across the internet, using mydrink.com to tune in and turn on It has both a night and day mode, which you can set to auto.

From the web interface you can choose the live view, playback recording – provided you have that micro SD card in the slot – and alter the settings of the camera remotely, too. From the browser, again, you can perform an automatic 360 degree scan, zoom in and out,  tilt the camera up and down, left and right, and take a photo.

D-Link

From the settings menu can switch on motion detection and if the said rodent makes an appearance it will send you an email alert.  You can also create scheduled notifications.

So how did it all work out in practice? Well, it certainly works when you’re down the Dog and Duck – that’s the Kite in Oxford in my case. I’ve used my iPad, my smartphone and several PCs to check out that all is well at Chez Moi.

The camera supports H.264/MPEG/MJPEG multistreaming and H.264/MPEG4 mulitcast streaming.  Image resolution is HD720 and a maximum of 1280/720 at 30 frames per second. It weighs 540 grams and its dimensions are 114x114x125. An additional sensor can be attached to a door or a window via the standard IO port that’s built in.

The night vision works well, even in complete darkness but don’t have it gazing out of a window at night – the array of LEDs at the front reflect back into the lens.  

This is a fun and functional piece of kit, easy to set up and easy to use.   Prices range from £159 to £186, when we searched on the web for the unit.

US Navy wants to stick weapons on universal remote control

The US Navy has and enough of having shedloads of remote controls to run all its weapons and wants to develop a universal remote so it does not have to keep looking down the back of the sofa every time it wants to unleash a particular type of missile.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has developed something similar to a master remote control for military ground, air and undersea unmanned systems that will work across the services,

Apparently it is a piece of software which uses a Common Control System, which is comprised of many different common control services.

Dubbed the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Control Segment (UCS) the software can be added to any unmanned system to enable it to communicate and work with any other.

It will run on any type of platform or hardware, and it can overlay existing systems running on propriety software to make them work with any others.

Basically it means that a soldier can control an entire unmanned system, from the vehicle itself to its payload.

Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder said that in the future you will have a sailor controlling an Air Force unit’s unmanned system, or an airman sitting at a desk controlling a naval unmanned system or a Marine controlling an Army platform.  

The code does mean that the days of unmanned systems being developed and fielded as individual items built by different vendors are over. This system has led to increased spending, from $284 million in 2002 to more than $3 billion in fiscal year 2010.

It means that all are uniquely controlled by proprietary software created by numerous vendors, and the data they provide is sent out in unique formats, making it very difficult to control various systems with one master control or sift through all of the information being transmitted.

Having a common controller will change this and allow systems to work with one another. It will also get rid of custom-built components and systems will simplify the systems themselves, as well as purchasing and training processes, thereby reducing costs.

According to Navy magazine all of the data captured by the systems will be saved on the cloud which will be transparent across the military and easily accessible to and quickly navigable by all service members.

Intel turns the spotlight on 3D and remote control devices

Genevieve Bell, who heads up a section of Intel’s labs, held an informal round table here in San Francisco and took questions and gave answers to a number of international journos. Bell is an anthropologist and her job is to see what people really want and how they use their digital devices.

We asked her whether Intel had done any research into 3D and how people reacted to the technology, and she had several very interesting things to tell us.

First, she said that the introduction of 3D screens posed a whole number of challenges that haven’t yet been addressed.  An ordinary TV is often watched by a number of people who often chit-chat to each other as part of shared entertainment.  Wearing clunky glasses is likely to inhibit people watching TVs at home and kind of rule out using your laptop at the same time. On the other hand, watching 3D films in a cinema makes a lot more sense because you’re going to be focused watching without necessarily interacting with your neighbour. Unless, that is, you want to snog your boyfriend and girlfriend during the film.

Glasses for 3D TV get lost too, she said. It’s just another thing for people to worry about when basically they just want to watch TV.

She said that the experiment carried out in the UK to show 3D soccer in pubs hadn’t been a great success. Apparently watching 3D while you’re quaffing pints doesn’t necessarily work.  And, interestingly, 3D is no good for a number of sports like golf and basketball, for different reasons. People move fast when they’re playing basketball and this can make some people dizzy as their eyes try to keep up with the action.

There are other challenges too. She said that some actors and actresses may not be suitable for 3D content – actors such as Rudolpj Valentino didn’t transfer very well from silent to sound moves – he, she said, had a squeaky voice and his image as a dashing romantic was somewhat offset by that. The move from silent movies to sound, then to black and white TV, and then to colour TV all involved some actors failing to be suitable for the new technologies. That was likely to happen with 3D content too.

Bell then turned her attention to remote controls. These, she said, had barely changed from when they were first introduced and now that people had multiple devices, things became way too complicated.  In her travels, she had come across someone who had a total of eight remotes, and had to do all sorts of strange things to make sure that using one device didn’t upset all the others. Methods included using tape to prevent some buttons being used, magic marker to circle particular buttons, and in one case a remote control having the equivalent of an instruction manual taped to the back of the remote in case everything went belly up.

Anybots announces new telepresence robot

Robotics company Anybots has today announced a “telepresence” robot called the QB, scheduled for release in Autumn 2010.

The robot is designed to help with video conferencing by offering a mobile robot with two cameras and a screen built in. It also comes with three microphones built in, Lidar, and is mounted on wheels for easy maneuverability. A user can control the robot via software loading onto a laptop. They can turn it on, move it, and record footage wherever it goes.

“The purpose is to let you interact with your colleagues at the office on their terms wherever you are,” Anybots CEO Trevor Blackwell told TechEye. “That means being able to join in conversations wherever they’re happening, not just in the conference room in front of their computers. Most of the important discussions in an office don’t happen in conference rooms. It means being able to see what they’re building in the lab, or make sure the shipment in the warehouse is where you expect it to be.”

He told us that when you send it to conferences instead of flying there you can network with people in the hallways between talks, “which is usually the best part of conferences”.

By not having to fly to conferences, of course, you can also avoid expensive travel bills, but since the QB is a whopping $15,000 it’s a pretty expensive mega-webcam, even if we all secretly want one.

In order to understand where Anybots is coming from with this product, however, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who is looking after multiple offices, warehouses, etc.

If a CEO is in a big business meeting in California and a problem arises in a warehouse in New York a long and costly flight is needed in order for the CEO to see what’s going on and sort it out. It also completely stalls the meeting that was going on. With a QB robot, however, the CEO can remotely log onto the telepresence bot, which will alert people in the warehouse that it has been activated, and will allow the CEO to wander about the factory to inspect things.

Of course, we could raise the question of what makes this any different than calling someone in the warehouse and getting them to walk around with their webcam to show the CEO what’s up. That would certainly be much cheaper.

The QB, however, offers a few advantages. There’s no hassle in trying to get someone to hook up a webcam for you, as it’s already there, ready and able. It can be controlled yourself instead of telling someone to move around for you. This is particularly important if employees are trying to conceal something by not moving a webcam to a certain area. The QB goes wherever it is ordered to go. It could even be used for spot checks whenever a boss thinks people aren’t doing their work.

“There’s an idea that permission to always being connected and to engage is there,” said Bob Christopher of Anybots.

It works via Wi-Fi, which both the person remotely controlling it and the QB robot itself need access to, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you can afford the robot in the first place. It will also come in varying heights to suit people’s needs.

Anybots believes that the QB will help break down barriers between people in the workplace, alleviating some of the stress and strain of face to face meetings. The robot itself looks like Wall-E, with this choice of appearance being aimed at providing a non-threatening persona for a CEO in the workplace. It all sounds rather nice, but some employees will never feel comfortable with knowing their boss is watching, no matter how friendly those robotic eyes look.

Anybots is currently marketing the robots to technology firms, but hopes to make them much more widespread in the future. We may even see them acting as sales agents, according to Anybots, where the robot would accompany a customer and provide feedback, suggestions, and technical answers to any of their questions. And here we were thinking we already had robots working in sales.

The QB will use the standard lithium ion batteries we use in laptops and each charge will deliver six to eight hours of spying on your employees. Or talking to them. Whatever works.

As for the future, Blackwell told us that Anybots is “excited about adding 4G city-wide wireless support so we can even send it out to the coffee shop with the gang.” The Anybots guys are also running a beta test with several customers over the summer to see what needs improving.

It’s probably only a matter of time before you jump on the tube and see a QB following someone on. Or you may pop into work only to have a QB speak with your boss’s voice to tell you that you’re late. You might even see someone bringing one to dinner or the cinema. Maybe even to watch a film about robots.

Some sketches showing how the QB works in various situations and some videos showing it in action can be seen below.

QB

QB