It's amazing how a few straight forward household and garden chores can leave your back feeling a little sore. Weed picking, tidying, vacuuming or fishing stray socks from underneath the sofa, it can all take an affect on the small of your back. Fortunately there are technology projects out there which could not only give you an extra hand, but save you doing the bending work.
Once such project is The Cardboard Robot by Ken Ihara, currently raising money on Kickstarter. The aim of the robot is pretty simple: this 6 foot robot claw, made of cardboard and a little bit of plastic, will not only pick objects up, but also drop them in a specific place. Additionally, you can attach a camera and get some pretty interesting swooping visuals.
The robotic arm is made up of four stepper motors for maneuverability, a controller and a USB connection. Wire up the arm with your computer and load the custom software in order to place points for the arm to go. Once done, the cardboard arm will run through the path you just created. Paths can be saved, so you can quickly repeat tasks in the future.
One benefit to the cardboard arm is that despite being industrial sized--to use Ken's words--"It can't kill you.", mainly due to how lightweight the robot is. However, this also means it can only lift up to 325 grams, which is the equivilent of one medium stuffed toy. It also is cheaper to produce and buy, and if it breaks, you can just use an old box to replicate the affected part.
Ken is hoping to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter to buy the materials needed for mass-production of the claw and camera-holder. You'll need to pledge at least $175 to get one of your own, but Ken also offers the platform controlling the arm for a lower price so it can be both improved and modded for other uses.
It's worth knowing that for every $3000 raised from the project, Ken will send a kit to a high school within the US--so in a bid to cure your back aches (or just generally be a little lazier!) you're also making computer science and engineering more fun for students.
You can check out more videos of the The Cardboard Robot doing its thing over on the official website.