The Amazon Echo – Steps Toward an Automated Home Environment

The Amazon Echo pic
The Amazon Echo

Jacob Newberger is a respected Pennsylvania mechanical engineer with extensive experience in automatic control systems and robotics. Jacob Newberger has a longstanding interest in home automation systems, which hold the promise of transforming how people interact with their residential environments.

Released to the general public in mid-2015, the Amazon Echo pairs advanced home automation capacities with voice recognition, personal assistants, and the Internet of Things (IoT). With Siri focused on mobile devices, the Echo is a stationary cylindrical device that takes many of the same features to an office or home environment.

The Echo is accessed through apps, either on a Chrome computer browser or a smartphone. It capably plays music and audio books, and provides information services such as traffic reports. Designed around “Alexa,” Echo is virtually hands-free, as it answers queries and responds to voice commands.

Echo has an added benefit of seamless IoT integration and supports a variety of electric devices, lights, and switches around the house. Among the compatible systems are Samsung SmartThings, Philips Hue, and WeMo, which makes it possible to build a truly automated home environment.


Welcoming Robots into Your Home

Jacob (Jake) Newberger currently serves as an automation validation engineer with Panacea Technologies, Inc. His previous experience includes working with companies such as AV Divine in the field of home automation. Alongside his career, Jacob Newberger pursues an interest in domestic robots.

Although many people may believe that robots are science fiction, or at least devices of the future, several domestic robotic models already exist. Most of these perform simple functions such as mowing lawns, cleaning pools, sweeping floors, providing pet care, cleaning windows, and vacuuming. These robots thus perform mundane chores, but they can also offer more: some people choose to personalize their robots and give them names.

Those interested in welcoming robots into their homes have a variety of options from which to choose. Companies such as the Robot Shop maintain an extensive selection. For example, the Robot Shop’s robotic vacuum cleaners include the iRobot Roomba, the Neato XV Signature, the E.ziclean, Infinuvo, Mamirobot, and Ecovacs Deebot, among others.

Domestic Robot Technology in the 21st Century

Shadow_Hand_Bulb_large_AlphaJacob Newberger completed his bachelor of science at the Pennsylvania State University in 2011 with a major in mechanical engineering, achieving honors and placement on the Dean’s List. While studying, Jacob Newberger demonstrated advanced knowledge and interest in the design, assembly, and programming of autonomous robots created for domestic purposes.

Until quite recently, partly automated household devices still required some level of human interaction in order to function correctly. These included vacuum cleaners, automated pool cleaners, and food processors. At the beginning of the 21st century, fully autonomous vacuum cleaners introduced a new level of automated control, and research and product development continues today.

Security robots are now used domestically to detect movement and identify potential intruders. While video footage is created, security warnings can be sent via email to alert residents of potential breaches immediately. Robotic lawn mowers experienced a surge in popularity in 2012, and are now produced with electric sensors to avoid obstacles and observe property boundaries. Floor washing and polishing robots have also been developed in recent years. Electronic devices that control utility settings by way of mobile phone applications are gaining popularity, with Google’s purchase and collaboration with thermostat manufacturer Nest.

National Robotics Week 2015 – A Nationwide Event in April

Engineering professional Jacob Newberger designs and develops automated validation systems for manufacturing facilities at Panacea Technologies in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. An automatic validation engineer for the company, Jacob Newberger also maintains an interest in other areas of robotics. Robotics enthusiasts and engineering professionals throughout the country are gearing up for the 2015 National Robotics Week in April.

Established in 2010 to promote advancements in robotic technologies, National Robotics Week consists of a series of robotics events hosted by various individuals, professionals, and organizations affiliated with the robotics field. The Advisory Council that manages the event each year aims to create a collaborative network of groups across the country to host events in all 50 states.

Event hosts typically consist of schools, companies, and other institutions connected to the robotics industry and academia. The council welcomes events of all types for all age groups, including parties, company tours, and robot showcases and demonstrations.

National Robotics Week occurs annually during the second week in April. The 2015 event will take place April 4-12 in participating states. For more information and a full list of currently scheduled events, visit the National Robotics Week website at

The ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition

Jake Newberger earned his bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2011. In addition to maintaining a position on the dean’s list, Jacob Newberger participated in several extracurricular activities, including membership in the Penn State and International Student chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

In existence since 1880, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) promotes the development and shared research regarding multiple aspects of engineering, as well as public concern. The ASME maintains several institutes and geographical locations dedicated to research and members, and hosts several events and competitions each year, including the ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition.

The ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition provides both graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to display their abilities in fields such as practicality, creativity, and integrity of analysis and design methodology. These talents are shown through the creation of a prototype and final report, which are presented to a panel of judges whose expertise in mechanism design spans both academic and industrial settings.

Individual or group participants must create a mechanism, defined as a device that performs a mechanical task through a force or motion. Size, construction, and activation requirements of these devices remain relatively flexible. In addition, participants may also create robots, which also fall under their own definitions and stricter requirements for functionality.

In the past, awards for competition winners included software, as well as cash prizes ranging from $100-$400.