Warning: Stegosaurus in Yard

Back to Contents of Issue: May 2002

How about a new home security system?

by Bruce Rutledge

In these anxious times, Omron and Tmsuk of Kyushu are developing a home security system that uses a robotic stegosaurus to keep us safe. The watchful dinosaur is loaded with sensors, has its mouth wired with 3G technology and can respond to simple commands. It roams around the house, and if it finds something amiss -- a door unlocked or a window left open, for example -- it lets out a mechanized roar and sends a message to Omron's M2M (machine-to-machine) Center. The center then sends an email to the homeowner's cellphone, explaining the problem. Users can even call the stegosaurus (there's also a triceratops model) and give it simple voice commands.

At least that's how the system -- due out within a year -- is supposed to work, but the technology is still a little rough around the edges. At a recent demonstration in Tokyo, the triceratops lurched around awkwardly and the stegosaurus had to be lifted onto the stage and tinkered with most of the time, leading Tmsuk president Yoichi Takamoto to apologize several times to a roomful of reporters.

The robots, about a meter long, can be made to look like elephants or other four-legged animals, according to Hideki Masuda, executive vice president and the senior general manager of Omron's business development group. "The robot is not just about security; it is also a bit like a pet," he says.

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