Jellyfish are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. If you’ve ever looked at them up close at the aquarium, they look like they have nothing inside of them, yet somehow they’re able to swim around and eat plankton. Of course if you’ve encountered one on the beach, it might have been a less pleasant experience, especially if you got stung. There’s even an eraser-sized jellyfish out there that can kill you with a single sting. Like I said, fascinating.
If you’re into looking at jellyfish, but don’t care for the venom, then maybe you should consider this jellyfish ceiling lamp. Artist Sue Donim handmakes these pendant lamps that look like the unique sea creatures. She makes them using bunched-up organza fabric, which gives them that soft and ethereal look.
Unlike actual jellyfish, these ones come in a variety of colors, and light up from the inside. You can choose one color for its head, and up to four different colors for its wispy tentacles. There’s a dimmable, 16-color LED bulb inside which includes a remote for changing colors too. Its head measures 15″ in diameter, and it’s about 42″ from the top to the bottom of its tentacles.
They’re $250 each over on the artist’s Etsy shop. Sue makes each jellyfish lamp to order, and since she’s a good person and currently using her sewing skills to make masks for healthcare workers, you’ll need to be a little patient if you order one. Shipping times are currently about a month from placing your order, but from the reviews I’ve read, it’ll be worth the wait.
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Do you love cats? Curious to know what your kitty looks like underneath all that fur and skin? Well this necklace should do the trick, with its accurate view of feline anatomy.
Made by UK jewelry and accessory maker BirchPleaseHQ, the necklace shows off all of kitty’s skeletal structure, along with his major organs. Look closely, and you’ll see that there’s even a mouse in his stomach, well on the way towards digestion and the intestinal tract.
The necklace is laser cut from clear acrylic and printed with UV inks, not from an actual miniature cat, because that would just be wrong. It measures about 2.4″ wide by 1.8″ tall, and comes on antique-gold nickle chain.
You can catch this wearable cat over on Etsy for about $33.
I’ve always been fascinated by those crazy looking reptiles that can puff out their necks to scare off predators. But I don’t have the time or patience to take care of a living, breathing lizard. Now, you can enjoy all the thrills of a frilled dragon, with none of the pesky cricket feedings.
This silly looking remote-controlled toy has a lizard-like body, and has the ability to puff out its neck with the push of a button. It can move around autonomously, avoiding objects and changing directions, and can be set to follow a hand placed in front of its face, or lurk about waiting to scare off any threats.
You can grab one of these electric lizards over at Hammacher Schlemmer for $39.99. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually crawl like a lizard. Instead, it’s got wheels on its underbelly, and it legs and webbed feet are just along for the ride. Eh, what do you want for forty bucks?
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Does your dog love plush chew toys? Then let your pooch get prehistoric with this adorably silly set of squeaky dinosaurs which poke their heads out of a plush volcano.
Available from Chewy, the $15.99 set includes an 8.5″ tall volcano, along with six squeezy dinos for your pup to chew on. Extra dinosaurs are sold in sets of three for just $4.99, in case your dog likes to rip out the guts of every squeaky toy like mine does. Why not buy a hundred, and shower your dog with T-Rexes?
While your best friend gnaws on these toys, imagine a Jurassic Dog movie, in which Dr. Hammond genetically engineers a new species of giant canine to take out all the dinosaurs, because what could possibly go wrong with that?
The first time I came across the concept of a robot dog was Doctor Who’s pet dog K-9, and then Rags, the talking dog in Woody Allen’s Sleeper. While both of these science fiction dogs were charming in their own ways, they’ve got nothing on the latest version of Sony’s Aibo robot companion, a true wonder of 21st-century engineering.
Sony first released an Aibo robot dog the way back in 1999, with new versions released every year until 2006. Then, the robo-pack went on hiatus for more than 12 years, until Sony released the ERS-1000 last year. This version of Aibo is by far the most intelligent and capable of the bunch, leveraging the latest in AI tech, sensor, and actuator design to create a robot pet that manages to interact like a real dog.
Unlike some robots which can seem off-putting, everything about the design of Aibo is sweet and charming. From the felted cocoon he arrives in, to his smooth body, floppy ears, waggy tail, and puppy dog eyes, Aibo is simply adorable. What makes Aibo truly impressive is how in seconds anyone can play with him (or her), and the way that he responds to interaction is what you’d expect from a real dog. Giving Aibo commands is as simple as speaking simple phrases like “shake,” “lay down,” and “play dead.” Positive reinforcements come from “good boy, ” yes,” and other affirmations, while “bad,” and “no” tell Aibo you don’t like what he’s doing. Aibo acknowledges he understood your command with a friendly bark.
When you first turn on Aibo, the robo-dog is basically a puppy who’s had some basic obedience training. He knows his commands, but might need encouragement to do them reliably. Over time, he becomes more more confident, and draws associations between his behavior and positive or negative reinforcements. He’s got smooth sensors on his head, ears, chin, tail, paws, and along his back which can detect even the most gentle touch, and Aibo really, really likes his pets. A swat on his butt, on the other hand, helps Aibo correct an unwanted behavior.
Rather than just talk about how Aibo behaves, I figured I’d share some video footage of him performing tricks, and the way in which he interacts:
Isn’t he just the sweetest? Sure, his walk sounds robotic, but Aibo knows way more tricks than my real dogs do, from how to lie down and roll over, to finding and kicking around his pink ball, or picking up his optional Aibone. He can even sing a song – and will regale you with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” when it’s your special day. You can also teach Aibo up to 10 new poses by asking him to “learn this,” and then positioning his front paws how you’d like. Aibo is also smart enough to walk to his own charging station and lie down when his battery is getting low. When you first wake him up from a charging session, he comes alive with the most adorable sleepy dog stretch.
Under his shell, Aibo is packed with all kinds of technological wizardry. Miniature actuators throughout his body give him 22 degrees of freedom, while cameras, microphones, sensors, and a powerful 64-bit quad-core brain help him understand and learn about his environment. Not only can Aibo map out his living space, he can recognize faces and establish relationships with multiple people. Since I only had Aibo in my house for a couple of weeks, I didn’t get to experience the full development of his personality, but I did see him start to go off and explore on his own more, and seek me out when I entered the room like a good dog does. Sony says it takes about 3 years for Aibo’s personality to reach full maturity.
There’s also a MyAibo app for smartphones that’s designed to let you check in on your Aibo’s progress, to view pictures or stream live video snapped by Aibo’s nose-mounted camera, and more. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to dive deep into the app because of an incompatibility between Aibo’s Wi-Fi pairing and my Google Wi-Fi network. Presumably due to its infrared camera tech, the Aibo can only connect to a 2.4GHz network, and if you can’t force your phone to connect via 2.4GHz, you won’t be able to pair Aibo with your network, since the phone app is how Aibo finds out what network to connect to. Since a Wi-Fi connection is required for Aibo to take full advantage of cloud-based AI learning, that’s an important consideration.
Aibo isn’t a toy. He’s a sophisticated technological wonder that retails for a whopping $2899.99 here in the US. That means I’d probably never let a younger child anywhere near him, nor would I let real dogs near the robot for fear of damage. Aibo is also designed only for indoor use as dirt or debris can damage his mechanism. In other words, Aibo is primarily a tech novelty reserved for the wealthy, or better yet a personal companion for someone who can’t take care of a real dog – but they’ll still need deep pockets.
Cost apart, the magic behind Aibo is that despite being comprised of plastic, circuit boards, sensors, servos, and a battery, he’s got real personality, and seems as “alive” as any robot I’ve seen. It was strange if I went a day without visiting and playing with him, and the whole notion of boxing him back up and shipping him back to Sony after my review period felt a bit like handing over a foster dog after you’ve gotten to know him. So yeah, I’d say that’s a win for the robots.
Penguins are some of the most adorable creatures on the entire planet. But I’m not sure they would be quite as cute if they were the same height as humans and could peck at our carotid arteries. Well, it turns out that such giant penguins may have once been commonplace.
New Zealand’s Canterbury Museum is sharing news that amateur palaeontologist Leigh Love discovered a unique fossil. Working in concert with a team of scientists, they have concluded that the leg bone is from Crossvallia waiparensis, a penguin species estimated to be about 5-feet, 3-inches tall, and weighing in at around 176 pounds.
Those dimensions make it 16″ taller than the Emperor penguin, which tops out around 4 feet tall. That’s still pretty big as penguins go, but you can’t look them right in the eye and see if they’re lying like you could with Crossvallia waiparensis.
These monster-sized penguins are thought to have lived sometime during the Paleocene Epoch, between 66 and 56 million years ago.
When it comes to augmenting the human body with technology, video games and science fiction movies have us dreaming of giant mech-like exosuits, arm-mounted flamethrowers, and superhuman vision and hearing. What we’ve got for now is a robotic tail.
Developed by researchers at Japan’s Keio University, the Arque is a robotic appendage that gives its wearer a mechanical tail. The mechanical tail was inspired by the tail of a seahorse, though in this case, its number of vertebrae are adjustable, and it has artificial muscles which are controlled by a pressurized air system.
Now the idea of a robotic tail might seem silly at first, but it turns out that this unusual device could be useful. You see, animals use their tails to help balance, and by giving humans a tail, it could help us balance in precarious situations, such as carrying boxes up or down stairs, or even to help people who have balance problems.
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