In a positive twist on the usual publicity events that our administration has experimented with over the years, President [Obama] will be hosting a google+ hangout with some lucky people to discuss, well, whatever matters. It is nice to see the people running the country finally getting to grips with some technology. It is still scary to hear how many people making the laws about data still don’t even use a computer.
[Limor] from Adafruit was selected as one of the few that would get to ask the President some questions. She will be focusing on manufacturing and small businesses. We think she’s a great candidate to do so. We’ve watched her go from someone who just did some really well documented hacks to someone who runs a successful business focusing on open information and education (and gadgets of course). You can also submit your own questions, and if they get enough votes, the president will answer them.
Google+ Hangouts provide a group video chat with the ability to add apps. [RobotGrrl] created a Node.js web app to control an Arduino that can be added to a Hangout.
In this simple example, [RobotGrrl] demonstrates how to toggle an LED from the Hangout. This includes a tutorial on setting up your EC2 instance, full source for the server and client apps, the processing sketch to control an Arduino, and the code to allow the app to be added to a Hangout.
This example shows the basics, but there’s a whole slew of things that could be controlled with this system. [RobotGrrl] even demonstrates some robots that are controlled from a Hangout interface.
Check out an overview video after the break.
Continue reading “Add an Arduino to a Google+ Hangout”
[Gus] made it to the Google+ developers vlog to show off his new Google+ hangout controlled robot. This robot, named OSCAR (Overly Simplified Collaboratively Actuated Robot), drives around according to the whims of everyone in a Google+ hangout. Not only is the robot under remote control through a Google+ hangout, it also features a camera, allowing a hangout audience to explore a space in real time.
[Gus] built OSCAR out of an old Roomba he found in his parent’s basement. After attaching an Android tablet to the Roomba with some binder clips, [Gus] put a web server on the tablet and wrote a Google+ hangout extension allowing all hangout viewers to remotely control OSCAR.
Right now, all the commands received on the hangout are put into a queue, meaning everyone on a hangout has control of OSCAR. The next version will change those commands to deltas, or changes in the current state, canceling out conflicting commands. If only we had one of these while we were streaming for the Red Bull competition…
You can check out a demo of OSCAR after the break.
Continue reading “Meet OSCAR, the Google Hangout robot”
By now we’re assuming you are all familiar with Google’s “Project Glass”, an ambitious augmented reality project for which they revealed a promotional video last week. [Will Powell] saw the promo vid and was so inspired that he attempted to rig up a demo of Project Glass for himself at home.
While it might seem like a daunting project to take on, [Will] does a lot of work with Kinect-based augmented reality, so his Vuzix/HD webcam/Dragon Naturally Speaking mashup wasn’t a huge step beyond what he does at work. As you can see in the video below, the interface he implemented looks very much like the one Google showed off in their demo, responding to his voice commands in a similar fashion.
He says that the video was recorded in “real time”, though there are plenty of people who debate that claim. We’re guessing that he recorded the video stream fed into the Vuzix glasses rather than recording what was being shown in the glasses, which would make the most sense.
We’d hate to think that the video was faked, mostly because we would love to see Google encounter some healthy competition, but you can decide for yourself.
Continue reading “DIY “Project Glass” clone looks almost too good to be true”
As weird as it might sound, there’s a way to use Google documents as a web proxy. The image above is a screenshot of [Antonio] demonstrating how he can view text data from any site through the web giant’s cloud applications. Certain sites may be blocked from your location, but the big G can load whatever it wants. If all you need is the text, then so can you.
The hack takes advantage of the =IMPORTDATA() function of Google Spreadsheet. We guess the command is meant to make import of XML data possible, but hey, that’s pretty much what HTML data is too, right? But what good it the raw webpage code in a spreadsheet? This is where [Antonio] made a pretty brilliant leap in putting this one together. He authored a bookmarklet that provies a navigation interface, hides the raw code which is stored in the spreasheet, and renders it in the browser. This ties together a user supplied URL, reloading data on the hidden spreadsheet and refreshing the window as necessary. See for yourself in the clip after the break.
Continue reading “Using Google documents as a web proxy”
So you can spend a bundle on a new phone and it comes with a voice-activated digital assistant. But let’s be honest, it’s much more satisfying if you coded up this feature yourself. Here’s a guide on doing just that by combining an Asterisk server with the Wolfram Alpha API.
Asterisk is a package we are already familiar with. It’s an open source Private Branch Exchange suite that lets you build your own telephone network. Chances are, you’re not going to build one just for this project, but if you do make sure to document the process and let us know about it. With the Asterisk server in place you just need to give the assistant script an extension (in this case it’s 4747).
But then there’s the problem of translating your speech into text which can be submitted as a Wolfram query. There’s an API for that too which uses Google to do that translation. From there you can tweak abbreviations and other parameters, but all-in-all your new assistant is ready to go. Call it up and ask what to do when you have a flat tire (yeah, that commercial drives us crazy too).
There have been many self-driving cars made with different levels of success, but probably the most well-known project is the Google car. What you may not have heard of, though is the autonomous Google cart, or golf cart to be exact. The first video after the break explains the motivation behind the cart and the autonomous vehicle project. As with another autonomous vehicle we’ve featured before, they didn’t forget to include an E-stop button (at 1:03)!
In the second video (also after the break) Google’s Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson get into more of the details of how Google’s more famous autonomous Prius vehicles work and their travels around different towns in California. A safety driver is still used at this point, but the sensor package includes a roof-mounted 64-beam laser sensor, wheel encoder, radars, and a GPS sensor. With Google’s vast resources as well as their work with Streetview and Google maps, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this technology. I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.
Continue reading “All About the Google Autonomous Vehicle Project”