Aldebaran Robotics' Nao is a programmable educational tool

Gadget Show Live opens to public in Birmingham

Dancing robots, “table PCs” and robotic lawnmowers are among devices on show at Gadget Show Live.

The show, which opens to the public today at the NEC in Birmingham, features a host of futuristic consumer products many on show in the UK for the first time.

Several devices that blur the lines between traditional PCs and tablets are on display with Lenovo showing off its IdeaCentre Horizon 27-inch "table PC" and a new version of its lightweight Yoga, which can perform as a tablet, but has a full-sized fold-back keyboard.

The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is a touch-screen device that works with a wireless keyboard and mouse but also has a "10-touch" screen that allows several people to use it like a tablet at the same time.

The manufacturer says the Windows device is ideal for multi-player games to be played on one device but also allows children to use educational apps together at home and for working.

James Pank, Lenovo UK's product manager, said: "We've seen technology shifts across the four screens, from the desktop to the laptop, tablet and smartphone, and yet, while people have more computing power than ever before, there is still room for technologies like Horizon that bring people together.

"Horizon makes personal computing interpersonal computing with shared, collaborative experiences among several people and we're delighted to be showing it off to the public for the first time at Gadget Show Live.

"Now many people can enjoy different photos, music and video on the same screen, and they can play games with our special accessories that blend physical and digital interaction."

One attraction likely to catch the attention of younger visitors is the £12,000 Nao – a 22in tall humanoid educational robot that can be programmed to perform many manoeuvres, including dancing.

Designed and built by French firm Aldebaran Robotics, it was being shown off by Active Robotics, the UK distributor.

John Pinkney, a spokesman for the firm based in Chilcompton, near Shepton Mallet in Somerset, said it did a lot of work with higher education institutions but was moving to getting it into both primary and secondary schools, for lessons including sciences, engineering and maths.

"It's a humanoid robot, it excites young people who are very creative, and if you put those things together you get very positive learning experiences," he said. "A key part of education is fun and I think if you take Nao into a classroom it is a very good starting point, with everybody excited to learn.

"The biggest problem is stopping them learning and moving them on to another lesson, and that has got to be a good thing."

He added: "We want young people to be leaving schools ready and prepared for the real world and coming to terms with these sorts of technologies. Being able to programme this sort of technology is where they need to be at."

But there is plenty for older visitors as well, especially those who hate the chore of mowing the lawn, as Honda – more famed in the UK for its cars – Is entering the robotic lawnmower market this year with the Miimo.

The two models, the 300 and its higher-capacity big brother the 500, will "mow your lawn 24 hours a day" in nearly all weathers, according to Rob Manton, product spokesman.

The Miimo can cut up to 3,000 square metres for customers who opt for the 500 model, and 2,200 square metres for the smaller version.

Mr Manton said it can be pre-programmed to suit individual lawns, "so if you have a shady spot which doesn't need cutting as often, you can tailor it to cut that area less than other parts of your lawn".

The robots, which trundle about using sensors, stay on the grass by detecting a wire which needs to be dug into the ground and run around the lawn's edge and once programmed, the mowers do their thing and will automatically head for their charging station when they run low of energy.

Honda estimate the machines use about £20-worth of electricity a year. The mowers have a ride height of between 20mm and 60mm, and deliver a very fine cut meaning they are bag-less.

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