Mess cleaning robot: real or fake? (w/ video)

Mar 30, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Internet is a world full of wonders to explore. Some of them are real, and some of them are not. If you love the mystery of figuring out which new toys are for real, and which ones are elaborate scams, then do I have a puzzle for you.

Its is called the SWITL. If the video and rumors turn out to be true, it is a kind of cleaning bot that can lift up messy gooey stains without any trouble. Oddly enough, the video also shows the machine putting the stains back down, though I can't imagine why anyone would want to do that.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that the company that is supposed to be behind the SWITL, Furukawa Kikou, has not released even a speck of data about this machine. This could be because the company is waiting on a patent, or it could be because the machine simply does not exist. At this point we really don't know.

The shows what is supposed to be a ketchup and mayonnaise glob on a table. The table space is smeared with the substances and the tray goes to work, picking it up in a single slide. So, let's break down the plausibility. When you look at that table surface, we have no clue what it is. It is clearly completely smooth, with no grout or texture at all. This isn't very likely in most situations. Home, and professional kitchens are usually tiled, for easy clean up, and a machine like this one would actually push items into the grout depressions. On a metal table, it would likely create scratch marks and grooves.

Now, take a good look at the goo. In the videos last pick up and drop off, the "mayonnaise" inherits a series of streaks at the back end, farthest from the camera. As the belt lowers them off, there are times where the streaks are on neither the belt nor the table, yet they remain completely rigid and in tact. Not even a slight wobble or bend. This sandwich lover has never seen mayonnaise act like that.

So, sleuths, what do you think?

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More information: furukawakiko.com/tech/page285.html

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User comments : 22

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LariAnn
3 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2011
First, let's realize that this machine is NOT a "robot", but a hand-held appliance, just as a DustBuster is a hand-held appliance. That said, the only way I can envision this being real is if the pick-up plate is either vibrating in a micro- or micron-level fashion, or has a charge that repels and "lifts" the glob so it doesn't actually touch the plate surface, or both. So, what is it, fake, or . . .?
hush1
1 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2011
:)

A belt sander. Cool. I want one. lol
Eikka
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Oddly enough, the video also shows the machine putting the stains back down, though I can't imagine why anyone would want to do that.


Think food industry, and it all makes sense. Why would you want to pick up and lay down gooey things? Perhaps to lift them from a conveyor belt or a preparation table and lay them into a package on onto an oven tray?
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2011
Home, and professional kitchens are usually tiled,

Most kitchens I've been in don't have tile counter tops (some do). The majority are smooth Formica covered wood counter tops or smooth granite slate (simulated or real) in homes and smooth metal in restaurants. Might be a difference between standard American kitchens vs. European kitchens.

They seem unusually careful when pushing the spoon around and when spreading it with what looks like a AA battery... Notice they seem to be trying not to touch the table with the "battery"? There are obvious edits between each "action" scene... No telling how much time passes between laying down a glob and picking it up. And picking up the smears? That just doesn't make sense.

My guess is it's fake and the mess is on a thin, transparent surface like an acetate film.... probably something much thinner.

J-n
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
I was looking at their company's website and saw a few additional videos there as well. Using google translate it looks like they're already using it in factories for dough... though the videos do look strange..

In my opinion it would have looked more legit were they to have used a spoon and less care in smearing the mixture.. but then again... sometimes people do weird things in demo videos even when they're real.
virgoss
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
A preview of the April Fools' Day?
Newbeak
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Totally fake.First of all,the pick-up sheet sliding out of the machine has a distinct thickness,which would smear the mess across the table surface.No way it's going to leave a completely clean surface.I thing CSharpner is on to something.It probably is a clear,stiff sheet that the pick-up sheet is sliding under.
mrwolfe
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Yep, the pick up sheet has thickness, but did you notice that it is actually a thin belt? It appears to unroll from the bottom.
zbarlici
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
well with the way video can be manipulated nowadays who knows... but on the other hand why would they lie about something so mundane...
zbarlici
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
oh yeah... they should also try it with dome baby doo-doo. Maybe i`d believe it then. make cleaning up after a baby a cinch!
paulsac
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
Mr. Wolfe is right, it's a conveyor belt. you can see it. it makes sense too-- a vibrating, charged surface isn't going to cleanly remove something with that coefficient of stick and keep it in the same form
CSharpner
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
Mr. Wolfe is right, it's a conveyor belt. you can see it. it makes sense too-- a vibrating, charged surface isn't going to cleanly remove something with that coefficient of stick and keep it in the same form

I thought about that too before and while examining the video for telltale signs, I noticed imperfections in the coloration of the pick up platform that did not move, hinting that the surface is not moving like a belt would.
Newbeak
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
No surface can be cleaned so completely in one pass.I still think trickery is afoot here.Notice how reflective the surface is where the mess is deposited-the spoon's reflection is clearly visible.To me this suggests the surface is a stiff,transparent sheet that the gadget's pickup extension slides under.As Gerald Posner would say,Case Closed!
SmartK8
not rated yet Apr 03, 2011
In the original page it says, it's used as a part in this machine: http://furukawaki...R_P.flv. That looks considerably less like a fake. (Update: TinyURL forbidden, ouch)
Newbeak
not rated yet Apr 03, 2011
In the original page it says, it's used as a part in this machine: http://furukawaki...R_P.flv. That looks considerably less like a fake. (Update: TinyURL forbidden, ouch)

I can't open your link,but yes,I have seen an existing commercial factory application of this technology.Still,common sense tells me that nothing can so cleanly remove sticky messes in one pass.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Apr 04, 2011
Fake. The film is cut and pasted, particularly around the areas where they smear the goo (ketchup?). I don't think it's coincidence that the roller and the table were both the same color, probably some minor computer editing done.

Lastly, in the clip where they use the metal scrapper to push the mess together, notice how it leaves a smear. Even the smear comes up with the device and, magically, down with the device. There's pretty obviously a thin medium that's carrying the whole mess
Kieseyhow
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
This is a very simple device to make. An ingenious idea though! It is a plastic board [probably nylon, PEEK-good wear resistance, or maybe even coated with PTFE] that powers in and out. A microfiber sheet that is tethered at the top and wraps around the end of the board. A small motor, a low amperage PSU, some limit switches, and a dual action control switch. All encased within a light handheld box that makes it easy to clean. Definitely not a robot, and no the videos are NOT fake. There is no sheet under the goo either. An excellent idea, and very simple to make. My hat is off to the engineer who came up with this. Truly the most simple ideas are the best!
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2011
This is a very simple device to make. An ingenious idea though! It is a plastic board [probably nylon, PEEK-good wear resistance, or maybe even coated with PTFE] that powers in and out. A microfiber sheet that is tethered at the top and wraps around the end of the board. A small motor, a low amperage PSU, some limit switches, and a dual action control switch. All encased within a light handheld box that makes it easy to clean. Definitely not a robot, and no the videos are NOT fake. There is no sheet under the goo either. An excellent idea, and very simple to make. My hat is off to the engineer who came up with this. Truly the most simple ideas are the best!

So, how does the mess, including the smeer and smudge, get off the table and onto the platform and back again without distortion?
Kieseyhow
not rated yet Apr 21, 2011
It works the same way microfibers work in other situations. The nature of the fabric creates an unusual bond between the electrons in the fabric with the material interacting with it. The machine is simple, but the fabric stretched over the retractable plate gives this device all of its abilities. It is possible that the material has some sort of ionic or static charge that is either created by the plate, or generated from an electrostatic circuit, but I doubt it.

I have seen some really interesting microfibers. A fabric that allows oil to pour right through while separating water and causing it to coalesce on the surface also. In another fabric, oil runs across like ball bearings across a table. I've even seen one that produces sounds -the fibers themselves vibrate- when an electrical potential is applied.

The exact method of this material is secreted in its patents somewhere. One would have to know the name of the material in order to do research.
CSharpner
not rated yet Apr 21, 2011
None of that explains how the smudges transfer from the table to the supposed micro fiber material. I still say it's completely fake until an explanation is provided for the transfer from table to device.
Kieseyhow
not rated yet Apr 22, 2011
None of that explains how the smudges transfer from the table to the supposed micro fiber material. I still say it's completely fake until an explanation is provided for the transfer from table to device.


Well, go to the company website, and email the people that are selling it. Use a Japanese translator if you have too. Everything you need is right in front of you, you just need the initiative to run with it. If I was interested enough, or had aspirations to purchasing this technology, that is the first step I take. Research. I am engaged in correspondence with various companies all the time about new technology.

As for me, a cloth works great for my kitchen. This Would be cool for picking up cat puke though...:S
CSharpner
not rated yet Apr 22, 2011
you just need the initiative to run with it

Yeah, I just don't have the interest in this one. Only so many free hours in a day and too many other things that draw and need my attention with a higher priority than this one. I'll hold my opinion unless new evidence crosses my eyes. If someone's intent on changing my mind, it remains open, but I won't be spending any effort looking for it. I /will/ read it if presented to me though. This one's not a high enough priority for me.

Most things that appear as scams /are/ scams. Though, a few are not. This one has all the red flags and since I have no use for it, even if it's not a scam, I have no need or reason to spend any more attention to this one than any other that appears as a scam. Although, I will engage in discussion on this thread, if it continues. As far as I'm concerned, I'm done with the thread unless someone responds. I'll reciprocate the response out of respect to the poster, but not out of interest in this item.