Simple telepresence hack lets remote user rotate this laptop

[Kris] wanted to make the telecommuting employees at his office feel a little more in control of their virtual presence in the office. He gave them a way to look around without needing to go into full-blown robotics. This laptop stand has a Lazy Susan connected to a servo motor to give the user control of where the computer is pointed.

We’ve certainly seen our share of really complicated surrogate builds like this balancing robot. There have been simpler options too, such as this smartphone-carrying motorized base. But when you get right down to it, the ability to pan the camera is probably good enough for most situations. [Kris'] solution can be built in an afternoon, using simple materials. The box is made out of MDF with a base for the laptop connected by the ball-bearing hardware that supports the weight and makes sure the servo is able spin it freely. It is driven by an Arduino which connects to the computer via USB; making it easy to control remotely. Check out a quick clip of the laptop going round and round after the break.

[Thanks Zach]

Comments

  1. Abner88 says:

    Throw some bluetooth at it and you have fully free spin.

  2. WhyrequireTheseFields says:

    And, if you get sick of them, just set it to spin quickly / vibrate

  3. Philpax says:

    If you wanted to go for that “authentic” feel, you could use something designed for headtracking (FaceAPI) and write a small program dedicated to rotating the platform by detecting when the user on the other side moves their head. I’d think it’d sell the design pretty nicely!

  4. Stu says:

    Isnt this just one step away from a PTZ webcam knock-up, but without the tilt or zoom?
    I personally wouldnt want to risk a shock to the laptop components if the servo shoots off on you, much better to just put a much lighter (and more expendable) usb webcam on a servo or two.

  5. Coligny says:

    Yeah… ptz netcam are around 70 usd at deal extreme…

    unless it’s for video conferencing in a creepy stalky way, this solution is a bit too redneck for pro use…

  6. Skullkey says:

    Very cool idea, well done! Instead of the python redirector, I think you could also have used socat.

  7. Patrick Ellis says:

    Where can I get one and how much?

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