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Wuthering Bytes News

Talking of Wearables and Raftabar the Robot

June 12, 2024

We are delighted to announce that two more talks have been confirmed for Festival Day!

Dr Rain Ashford is a wearable technology designer, technologist, researcher and educator, with an industry background in research and innovation for digital, AI, robotics and IoT. She has a computing PhD, for which her research investigated responsive and emotive wearables, focusing on the development of new forms of nonverbal communication using physiological and environmental data. Rain was listed in Women of Wearables ‘Top 100 Women in Fashion Tech 2019’ and has presented and exhibited her research on wearables in journals, and at conferences internationally.

Rain will give a talk on the history of wearable technology, focusing on some of the more interesting or challenging artefacts and propositions that have developed during the emergence of technologies with the intention of extending the body, and discuss some of her own experiences of prototyping sensory devices.

Rod Moody started an electrical engineering apprenticeship at 15 years of age with Dale Electric, and through day release and night class he gained an HNC in electrical engineering. In his twenties he was appointed to the position of Electrical Engineering Manager, responsible for running the design office. As technology advanced, and as a self-taught electronics engineer, he designed complex control systems using CMOS logic, and alternator AVRs using semiconductor analogue technology. In 1992, at 52 years of age Rod joined Deep Sea Electronics as their Engineering Manager, and through improved product design and the introduction of SMT production they grew very rapidly over the eight years before Rod retired in 2000 at 60 years of age.

Raftabar is a 3-wheel automatically guided vehicle that wanders around in the allocated space trying to avoid collisions, and recovering from them if they occur. He has a sleeping box where his battery recharges, and he comes out and returns to this on command. When wandering his height is 400mm, but when commanded he can rise to any height up to 1.5m and engage with humans in a seemingly intelligent manner using face detection, facial recognition, and two way verbal conversation. Rod will take you on a journey from concept to finish, reflecting on the mistakes and learning along the way. He will demonstrate that achieving apparently intelligent behaviour from a machine is now within the reach of almost anyone with imagination, yet limited technical ability.

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