Shenzhen OSHW startup uFactory built this cool robot arm (the uArm) that is equipped with a vacuum pump and solenoid valve, allowing it to lift even heavy things like a can of soda and move and rotate the object. It even has the finesse to unbox a mobile phone.
The basic design is Arduino powered with 4 servos and 4 degrees of freedom. A servo controls the rotation of the sucker, allowing a suctioned object to be rotated, as seen in the iPhone video.
Finally, it sounds like uFactory will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to produce and sell kits based on this design. Might be a great opportunity to pick up a cool OSHW kit….