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Robots, geeky tech a hit in Downtown Brooklyn

Robot fans check out Drexel University’s Hubo the Humanoid Robot, which can walk, climb stairs and shake hands. Photo: Mary Frost

2013 World Science Festival draws crowds to MetroTech

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Downtown Brooklyn got geeky on Saturday as the World Science Festival took over NYU-Poly’s MetroTech campus and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Walking, talking and swimming robots, 3D printers, intelligent lighting, video games and other gadgets fascinated crowds of technology fans milling through MetroTech Commons and inside NYU-Poly halls.

Organizers say the crowds at the event demonstrate the growing importance of technology in Brooklyn’s “Tech Triangle” –- Downtown (anchored by NYU-Poly), DUMBO and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Children were fascinated by “Caesar,” an “assistive robotics” head by Inno/vention with expressive eyes that look for people and follow them around. “He greets people by name and engages them in conversation,” said Jarek Frank, a PhD student at NYU-Poly. Caesar will get a body in a year or two, Frank said, and eventually may assist the disabled and elderly.

Drexel University showed off Hubo the Humanoid Robot, originally developed in Korea. So far Hubo can perform actions like walking, climbing stairs and shaking hands, but the next version will be bigger with more functional hands able to climb ladders for rescue missions, for example.

Crowds gathered at the MakerBot tent and watched as several Replicator2 3D printers molded small plastic objects and toys. “Can I keep this?” multiple children asked Michael Curry, MakerBot’s “3D Evangelist.” (No, they could not.) Curry told the Brooklyn Eagle that sales of the hot devices “are doing well.” Replicator2 sells for $2,200.

Innovative smart products – like smart watches and light bulbs – also attracted crowds. The Sunn startup displayed smart light bulbs that gradually change color over the course of the day to mimic the color and quality of the outside sun, said John Ciecholewski, Sunn CEO, attending the Festival with fellow Cornell grad Jeremy Blum, Sunn CTO.

“It’s energy efficient and provides health benefits,” he said. “The bulb models your circadian rhythm, the natural body clock.  It works by regulating melatonin, which improves your sleep pattern and increases alertness in the morning.” The device connects to the Internet and can be set to mimic the sun from another location, such as the Caribbean, Ciecholewski said, improving mood. The product should be on sale by December and will be available at all major retailers.

In Brooklyn Bridge Park, astronomers set up powerful telescopes so people could gaze upon the alignment of Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury— an event referred to as the “Dance of the Planets."

June 4, 2013 - 5:17pm
Latest Revision Time: 
June 5, 2013 - 6:45pm


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