Bizarre Tech: Slugbunny, Mini Pupper and LaserPecker 2
Image credit: Laser Pecker 2
Happiest of New Years, friendlings! Hope you’re all well. This month, I have selected some items by asking the question: does the name make me smirk? Have fun!
Cute. But why?
This caught my eye because why wouldn’t it? Its name is Slugbunny. But it’s not what you’d expect unfortunately.
I saw the pictures and thought, wow! This must be some sort of high-tech rabbit/slug hybrid that can bounce around and leave a trail of pink slime in its wake.
The hype and pics make me think it’s a Furby-type gadget that I must look after.
But no. It’s just a cuddly toy in a box. I’m disappointed.
Described as the “squishiest, squarest, lovable bunny plush toy out there! It’s [typo, not me] soft fur is very snugglable [that’s not a word] and easy to machine wash & dry.”
It’s half slug, half bunny. But not really.
Its “habitat” is a hand-crafted box with a magnetic snap and pull tab, and “it’s [AGAIN?!] playful design gives Slugbunny’s ears plenty of room to breathe and stand out while sitting on your bookshelf”. Sigh. Bored now.
A “Japanese folded” booklet has the plushie’s “origin story” – like some superhero – and showcases original artwork from Madeline Harris, one half of the father and daughter duo behind the Slugbunny. And it’s varnished. Oooo.
The kit includes the plush, habitat (the box), booklet and pouch, so the person you gifted this to can throw it in the back of the wardrobe, where it will become one of those mystery bags you find when you’re doing a spring clean. INTO THE BIN!
The Slugbunny has 161 backers at time of writing, with £6,390 funding on Kickstarter.
Have a look at the sweet story behind it. Puke.
It’s not a dog.
Back in the day (2016), Boston Dynamics showcased its robotic dog. It was seemingly agile, dog-like (ish), and was supposed to do all this jumpy cool stuff. Well, it was quickly trolled hard by the internet. It was even bested by a banana peel on the floor. True slapstick gold. The company has improved since then, unveiling its next-level fake doggo called Spot, an agile mobile robot that looks a bit like a dog.
Anyway, this isn’t it. This is the Mini Pupper.
The dog-shaped quadruped robot can hop, trot and run, “supporting 12-DOF, ROS (Robot Operating System) SLAM, Navigation, and OpenCV AI functions” – I’m not looking it up to find out what it all means, it makes the dog move while being inexpensive. We will see about that, Mr DisposableIncome.
The company behind it, MangDang, says the quadruped product helps you experiment with robotics, exploring advanced functions of a dynamic robot that are “typically” not available at this price point.
Back in June, MangDang released Mini Pupper on the Stanford Pupper website. The company collaborated with Nathan Kau, the original creator of Stanford Pupper, to bring the Mini Pupper to market.
Here’s the real techie stuff. The bot pup can run on Ubuntu and ROS (currently version Melodic, updating to Noetic), and ROS2 is in the pipeline. It can support SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping Navigation) and other ROS features. This means Mini Pupper can map its environment and learn in real time using lidar or a camera sensor. Sweet.
Mini Pupper is open-source, and you can customise your own facial animation, algorithms, and mechanical shell. MangDang will supply guide documents and videos to make it easy. I’m going to need an idiots’ guide.
There’s lots you can do to your Pupper, and more techie jargon that you can find yourself.
The Research Basic Kit is going for £218, and the Complete Kit is £385. You’ll only need to supply your own soldering iron, 3D-printing machine, battery, charger, controller, Raspberry Pi, and SD card for the Basic Kit...
It would probably be best to get a Complete one, which includes everything you need to build and program your own bot doggo.
It’s cool. It’s a learning tool. And it’s a wee bot. It took them over eight months to make Mini Pupper the best it can be.
Tee hee heeeee
Surely they must have thought the name through? Surely?!
According to the makers of LaserPecker 2, nearly all laser engravers are too bulky or too pricey to be “on-the-go”.
The first generation of LaserPecker Pro was an apparent game-changer (I wonder why, wink wink), mixing “versatility and affordability”.
The second generation is, according to its makers, “a solid disruptive innovation”. Oh, come on, they know what they’re dong... I mean, doing.
LaserPecker 2 apparently adds “powerful” features with an easy-to-use interface to make laser engraving “affordable” and “simple for beginners, hobbyists, and professionals alike”.
It’s a compact plug-and-play device. You can set it up in seconds – that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of seconds.
The laser engraver works with a smartphone or desktop, so you can transfer images and start engraving easily. Its engraving speed is 600mm/s, which is quite fast, apparently, and it has three engraving resolution options: 1k, 1.3k and 2k.
It has a fully digital, industrial-grade Galvano scanning system, which supports square and graphic preview, and makes “positioning much easier, more accurate and intuitive”.
LaserPecker 2 is capable of 360° rotating engravings on cylindrical objects, as well as curved or uneven surfaces, because it’s portable and handheld. Conventional engravers are only able to engrave flat on a surface.
According to the makers, the maximum engraving size is a whopping two metres. Who doesn’t want a LaserPecker?!
It has a 5W semiconductor laser and can cut materials with a thickness under 5mm, too.
It can engrave “almost on everything that springs to your mind”. The list provided by the company includes wood and bone... you know they’re just doing it on purpose.
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