Telepresence robot with Skype connectivity

[Claire] sent in a project she’s been working on for the past few years. It’s called Botiful and aims to turn any Android phone into a mobile telepresence robot.

Botiful is built around the IOIO Android to Arduino dev board and provides a very clean way to interface your current cell phone with a tiny – and cute – robotic platform. The big feature of Botiful is its integration with Skype; just call a Botiful owner’s phone or tablet, and a panel pops up allowing you to control the robot, tilt the camera up and down, and even robotic yes, no, and ‘dance’ gestures.

Because Botiful is based on the IOIO, there’s a few pins available inside the bot for an I2C bus, PWM control, and even a serial output. It’s also possible to develop your own apps for Botiful, making for a neat mobile robotics platform.,

Right now, Botiful is only for Android but if [Claire] gets $100,000 out of her Kickstarter, she’s promised to add iDevice support. That seems fairly likely, as more than $60,000 has been pledged with three weeks to go. Pretty cool, and we can think of a few very useful asocial applications of the Botiful including running cable in a drop ceiling, and checking out that thing under your car.

5 thoughts on “Telepresence robot with Skype connectivity

  1. lol for the ending footnote of skyping ones ipod to chase a cat out from under ones car. I hope the bot has a snow chain acessory for ATV uses. tank wars in the back yard with these would be fun with some augmented reality apps hehe.

  2. I had/have a plan for a phone-based telepresence bot, with the intention of making it absolutely as cheap as possible.

    I was hoping to keep the final price an order of magnitude below the “$299 or more” this one will be charging, though I wasn’t intending to build them myself.

    Apart from the IOIO board, what’s costing so much in this build?

    The mechanism for attaching the phone in a manner that can tilt up and down is what’s causing me the most grief design-wise, I’ve yet to hit on a design that I really like. The magnet system used here looks really clean, but requiring users to glue a magnet to their phone sounds like a cludge to me.

    I’d also hope to have a more-expensive version of my design with downward-angled IR range finders to prevent driving off the table :) It wouldn’t be completely foolproof (e.g. turning near the edge would be risky), but it’d hopefully be better than nothing.

  3. Hi Everyone, I’ve implemented a similar solution with a much simpler approach, that will work on iPhone, Android, Blackberry (…or whatever) using DTMF codes. It uses an arduino shield design that I’ve released under Creative Commons Attribution that’s available on my website:

    http://tacticalspace.org/archives/skyperobot/

    The final build cost is somewhere around $100 without trying too hard to source cheap parts.

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