Who needs heaps of Olympic medals when one of your countrymen has developed a pool-playing robot?

But Deep Green, a machine built in a lab at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., isn’t spending nights at bars challenging human champs – yet.

According to news reports, Michael Greenspan,

an associate professor of electrical computer engineering, sees the project as a way to explore robotic vision and game theory. But it began with less lofty notions, when, after a frustrating night of pool playing at a robotics conference, Greenspan decided it would be easier to build a pool-playing robot than master the game himself. Wow, he must be really, really bad.

So far, Deep Green breaks about as well as its creator, but apparently needs to work on accuracy. To that end, Greenspan and his students are reportedly developing better machine vision algorithms. They’re also working on the computer’s strategic abilities, since the outcome of pool shots is more uncertain than moves in games such as chess, Pac-Man and dwarf-tossing.

Perhaps the robot could simulate slight drunkenness. After all, we all seem to play pool much better after a few beers.

Computer jacket required

Moving from games to garments, a German clothing firm has unveiled a new jacket that features a built-in 128-MB MP3 player controlled through cloth buttons on the left sleeve.

Headphones are located in the collar of Rosner’s mp3blue jacket, and wearers can apparently use the garment to operate a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, with the hands-free phone microphone tucked into the jacket’s collar.

A small module containing the player and the battery, which the company says is good for up to eight hours per charge, can be slipped out so the jacket can be washed. Rosner and its electronics partner, German computer chip maker Infineon, said the limited-edition garment is “geared toward technologically progressive, fashion-conscious men.” Or men with very strong legs (how much does this thing weigh?)

Priced at US$725, it will be available through the Rosner website (www.rosner.de) starting in August for delivery in February. Could there be a reseller opportunity here?

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