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.

Shoulder robot for the forever alone

Don’t have anyone to share activities with? Forget Siri, she’s just a disembodied voice in a box. You need to get yourself a shoulder-mounted robot pal.

The idea behind this design actually has something to do with telepresence. Let’s say you and your best friend want to go check out the local Hackerspace. The problem is that you met your best friend on the Internet and they live thousands of miles away. Well just strap on your shoulder robot and have your friend log on. There’s a camera to give him or her feedback, and twenty degrees of freedom lets them control the torso, arms, and head of the bot in a realistic and creepy way. This works much like a marionette, with motors pulling wires to actuate the robot’s movements. You can get a very brief look at this in the clip after the break.

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Telepresence robot lets you play a hand of cards

Virtual card games proliferate the interwebs, but this card-playing telepresence device is unique. [Patrick] calls the project Vanna, and we’d bet that’s an homage to the tile-flipping TV star [Vanna White]. Much like she flips the blank tiles to reveal letters, this device can flip the hand of cards either face up or face down.

Each of the six card trays is connected to a stepper motor. The local player deals the hands, placing each card in a tray so that it faces the webcam for the remote player. That remote player has an on-screen interface that can discard by tilting the tray forward and dropping the card on its face, or play a card by tilting toward to the local player so they can see its face value. All becomes clear in the clip after the break.

The hardware is USB controlled from a Windows machine thanks to the PIC 18F4585 which controls it. But it should be quite simple to get it talking to the OS of your choice.

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Board games over IP means telepresence chess

Correspondence chess, or playing a game of chess via email or snail mail, is well-known in the chess community. [FunGowRightNow] thought he could bring correspondence chess into the 21st century, so he built two robotic chess boards that communicate over the Internet. The end result makes for an awesome senior project for school.

Instead of a simple monitor displaying the other player’s moves (and having to manually move both black and white pieces), the positions of all the pieces are controlled via a laptop an Arduino underneath each board. An electromagnet mounted on an xy frame moves one piece at a time. To detect the positions of the pieces, an 8×8 grid of reed switches open and close with magnets put in the base of each piece. The end result is a nearly seamless chess game that can be played by two people separated by hundreds of miles.

Right now, all we have are a few videos and the descriptions of the inner machinations of the chessbots. [FunGow] promised the Internet design specs after he turns this in as his senior project on April 10th. Until then, you can enjoy a few of the videos he’s posted after the break.

via reddit

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Loudest telepresence robot ever

This telepresence robot will never let your Skype callers sneak up on you. [Priit] built the project, which he calls Skype Got Legs, so that his distant friends could follow him around the house during chats. But as you can hear after the break, the electric drills used to motorize the base are extremely loud.

Noise pollution aside, we like the roughness of the hack. It’s utilitarian but seems to work quite well. Commands are sent via the web using a combination of Ajax and PHP function calls. The two drills are controlled by an Arduino via a couple of automotive relays. The drills are powered by their original rechargeable battery packs. So as not to alter those batteries, [Priit] figured out a way to use synthetic wine bottle corks as a connector. They’ve been cut to size, and had tinned wires pushed through holes in them. Now, when he inserts the altered corks they press the wires against the battery contacts. Continue reading “Loudest telepresence robot ever”

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.

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Small tabletop telepresence robot

iphone_tabletop_telepresence

When [Peter] saw the Sparkfun Magician robot chassis in a recent new product post, he knew instantly that he had to have one for a telepresence project that had been kicking around in his head for a while.

Onto the robot chassis, he added an Arduino to provide the brains of the bot, an Adafruit motor shield for controlling the wheels, and a Pololu Wixel for wireless communications. An iPhone is mounted on the top of the robot, which communicates with his laptop using Apple’s Facetime app. The robot is controlled from his laptop as well using the Wixel, which enables him to direct the Magician chassis as if it was attached via USB.

While he thinks the robot is pretty neat and that it works well, [Peter] already has improvements in mind. The robot chassis is a bit weak on anything but smooth surfaces, so a new set of motors and wheels are likely the first changes he’ll make. He wants to add a servo-based aiming mechanism for the phone’s camera, as well as some sensors to prevent the bot from taking a nosedive off his table.

iPhone aside, this is probably one of the cheaper mobile telepresence setups we’ve seen, so we can’t wait to hear how the improvements work out, and how much they add to the robot’s cost.