Mechatronic art

In studying C programming at BCIT we used the Prata text and I found
it helpful to summarize (in my own words, ie plain English) the
GENERAL OBJECTIVES achieved by C. Words in - Words out programs are
one such category; logic/arithmetic operations are another.

I would very much like to hear from Orchidians contemplating or
experienced in “mechatronic art” what kind of general objectives they
woulld expect robotic stone workers to achieve in a jeweller’s shop.

I would list the following:

(1) accurate 3D scanning of objects with instructions in plain

(2) instructional units in plain language to walk the user through
converting the geometric model of the scan to parameters in the
carving stage

(3) instructions in plain language on proceeding with the carving
(eg changing end receptors and effectors - tools)

(4) accurate carved products (more accurate than any human hand
could achieve)

Automation means just one thing - “To make something automatic”

BTW - BCIT also offers instruction and a certificate in “Technical
Writing”. Technical writing can also be automated and adminstered by

Hi Peter,

  1. Scanning of a 3D object would not need written instructions if
    you include audio cues, e.g. “Place object to be scanned on the
    scanning platform”, “Error: The object is too big to be scanned”,
    “Scanning complete”.

  2. This can be mostly automatic. Parameters in the form of text
    boxes or numerical fields giving resultant sizes, and giving warnings
    when the sizes are outside of the “carving” machines maximum, or
    minimum size parameters.

  3. Audio instructions, with error checks.

  4. I wouldn’t emphasise more accurate than human hands, most
    craftsmen don’t like that, but if you could emphasise speed of
    production without quality loss…

If you are going to make things automatic, there should be an
automatic mode, i.e. replicate the object placed in the scanner…
put something in, scan, pull out X amount of copies.

Regards Charles A.

Please allow me to follow up on this with a note on the OS
(Operating System) for rapidly developing mechatronic stone carving
and jewelry. I will use OS in the layman’s sense so we do not get
hung up on technical definitions. Your cell phone has an OS and your
game console has an OS. Your robotic helicopter toy (which Santa,
alas, did not bring me at Christmas) has an OS. Maybe next
Christmas… or perhaps Santa will bring me a bench-top robotic
stone carving machine. I am now painting my stone-working bench (2 ft
x 7 ft) and getting it ready.

If you use an OS to operate the sub-system which is your mechatronic
(robotic) helper, then that OS can be written out on paper in SEE,
Standard Everyday English. BCIT has a related certificate program in
"technical writing" which has to do with making technology
understandable to the end user (the stone carver/jeweller).

In a sense the Windows, Linux, Mac, DOS etc OS used by all
Orchidians is written in SEE using the pictorial help of GUI
(pronounced gooey) or Graphical User Interface. I suggest FUI
(Friendly User Interface) for robotic jewellers and proctogemologists
carving the civet cat bead necklaces, moose drop earrings and
coprolite gems discussed so cogently on Orchid.

FUI passes if it makes the robotic stone carving machine fully
"usable" by the layman jeweller from assembling the unit out of the
box to carving the final product. Otherwise it fails.

In SEE, what do Orchid jewellers and stone carvers want their
mechatronic artist-helper to do?

ref - “The Psychology of Everyday Things” by computing
science/psychology Professor Don Norman

  1. I wouldn’t emphasise more accurate than human hands, most
    craftsmen don’t like that, but if you could emphasise speed of
    production without quality loss…

I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head with point 4
Charles. On Orchid we find mostly the craftsmen of fine stone work
and not so much the consumer so yes, sensitive nerve endings are
touched with this issue. Yet we have to face reality in a competitive
and high technology world. Typists and file clerks lost jobs due to
the automation of typing and filing which all Orchidians use right
now (PC) so why should anyone else be exempt?

Some time in 2012 I expect to make a purchase and wheel the trojan
horse of mechatronic art into the shop. Or should we call it
“Frankenjeweller”? (Stage left: enter lightning bolts, thunder claps
and a few mwahahhahahahhhaaaa’s). At issue is more than machine
intelligence or AI beyond “human equivalency” (expression of
roboticist Moravec). It is called Alife or machine psychology. Five
minutes of googling shows that the visual acuity of 3D scanning
machines can surpass human equivalency and that these Artificial
Vision systems go hand in hand with the simulations of human motor
functions. IOW many things are done with the Avision
One thing is stone cutting and carving.

Thus we come up with the profile you outline - accuracy, speed,
quality. For certain jewelry tasks I expect Frankenjeweller can do
the job better than the human but not all. For example, if you want a
perfectly round jade bead, I think the robot will win the contest.
For speed, the Alife wins again. But for quality, humans win because
machine art is still in its infancy. If you give Frankenjeweller some
soft stone (clay) and ask for it to be shaped into something artistic
you won’t get a masterpiece to rival Michaelangelo or da Vinci. But
even a 5 year old human child can turn clay into pleasing figurines.

What I would like is an anthropomorphic arm which can carve from
bust-sized objects to small amulets and beads even. A 3D scanner has
to go with it and the OS has to be in plain English for all the
important tasks with a total budget under 100K.

I also liked your advice about using Voicein-Voiceout software.
Minus the mwahahahahahahaaa’s Frankenjeweller could do well by
responding to voice commands. So I think that would be a purchasing
condition. I do not insist that the carving machine supplier provide
an OS with VIVO SW but that the supplier will automate the response
sequence so the machine will obey my menu of commands and I can ask a
local consultant to mesh the VIVO with the machine operations.

Maybe I will call my robotic jeweller “Arnold” and Arnold will obey

However, in “March of the Machines”, robotics prof Warwick says it
is inevitable that some day Arnold will rebel.

1) Scanning of a 3D object would not need written instructions if
you include audio cues, e.g. "Place object to be scanned on the
scanning platform", "Error: The object is too big to be scanned",
"Scanning complete". 

Very much agreed on the audio cues (see below under “teach about

Object size is one of the parameters I am investigating. I would
like to purchase a robot arm which is human sized and may not be
portable (too heavy) and a compatible but portable 3D scanner. I may
need a larger robotic machine for bust-sized or tombstone-sized
objects and a smaller one for amulets, bracelet pieces etc but I
don’t know yet.

I could put the task this way to prospective hardware HW and
software SW suppliers:

Please google on Torart and have a look at the video of them
replicating Michaelangelo’s Pieta. I have the Sto:lo Nation’s answer
to Michaelangelo and da Vinci. I need comprehensive HW and SW for the
scanning-carving system which will enable our Mechatronic Artist to
go from clay-carved objects to final product and the robot must be a
robotic teacher. IOW it must provide an OS which will teach about
itself… it must tell the user how it works. You do not need to
include the VIVO (conversational) programming. We have that. What
degree of precision is provided by the system you are offering us?
The task I will give you is more modest than Pieta. I will ask you to
do something more like the Statue of David by carving a human hand
from a human model. You are the model.

I need to know the range in how much you can scale it up or scale it
down. Also the machine must be able to work with stone from the
Sto:lo Nation which ranges from granitic (granite family) to jade
family to argillite family to limestone-marble family.

PS - re using human models - I once did some research on the
psychological effects of acupuncture. I went to an art studio in
Vancouver and they made human plaster of Paris casts of male and
female anatomical units on which we then marked the points and
meridians through a prof at the College of Oriental Medicine. I like
to think that this work contributed to acupuncture eventually being
included in BC’s Medicare coverage.