The European Research and Innovation Exhibition, held in Paris, was scaled down from last year due to the economic crisis, but still managed to welcome 250 exhibitors from 8 European countries, and 20,000 visitors from all over the world.
At the CNRS stand, researchers were showing off a special fluorescent lamp that, attached to the back of a tractor, can analyse crops in order to show exactly how much fertiliser and/or pesticide they need. Farmers currently use up to 4 times more than necessary which increases food costs, and is a disaster for the environment. Seimens were demonstrating their new heart scanner, which can generate an accurate 3D computer image of a person’s heart in only a few minutes. In the past scanners had to take 7 or more heartbeats from each position on the chest, and doctors had to take the measurements of the heart by hand, which wasn’t always accurate. The star of the show was a little robot called NAO who is a response to the humanoid robots being developed in Korea and Japan, like Asimo. He is a companion robot which can be used for education or play or to keep older people company for example. He can be mass produced and costs a modest 12,000 euros. According to his maker, he represents the democratisation of robotics. His opperating system is Linnux, meaning that anyone can develop new applications him. An additional extra is that NAO has a sense of humour… and can for example, play dead.