We all get a bit lonely from time to time and talking to other humans can be a challenge. With social robots still finding their way these days, [Markus] decided to find a DIY solution he could make cheaply, resulting in the “Conversation Face.”
The build is actually pretty simple, really. You have three different OLED displays, two for the eyes and one for the mouth, that have different graphic images programmed onto them depending on the expression being displayed. There’s also a small electret microphone that senses when you are speaking to the face. Finally, a simple face cutout covers the electronics and solidifies the aesthetic.
The eyes are programmed identically since they would move together for most expressions. [Markus] was able to get a blinking animation by quickly moving a white circle vertically through the eye screens and the results are pretty convincing. He also moves the eyes around the OLED to make the expressions seem more dynamic.
There’s not much to the mouth. [Markus] only has a mouth open and a mouth closed animation. The mouth opens when it’s the face’s turn to talk or closes when the face should be listening. This information is easily determined by measuring the output of the microphone. Interestingly enough, you can program the face to be quiet and attentive when it’s being spoken to or quite chatty to show that it’s actively engaging in the conversation.
I don’t know about you, but we can’t decide if the Conversation Face is more or less creepy than those social robots. Either way, we thought you would get a kick out of it regardless. It also looks like a funny anime character if you ask us.
Robotics projects are always a favorite for hackers. Being able to almost literally bring your project to life evokes a special kind of joy that really drives our wildest imaginations. We imagine this is one of the inspirations for the boom in interactive technologies that are flooding the market these days. Well, [Technovation] had the same thought and decided to build a fully articulated robotic biped.
Each leg has pivot points at the foot, knee, and hip, mimicking the articulation of the human leg. To control the robot’s movements, [Technovation] uses inverse kinematics, a method of calculating join movements rather than explicitly programming them. The user inputs the end coordinates of each foot, as opposed to each individual joint angle, and a special function outputs the joint angles necessary to reach each end coordinate. This part of the software is well commented and worth your time to dig into.
In case you want to change the height of the robot or its stride length, [Technovation] provides a few global constants in the firmware that will automatically adjust the calculations to fit the new robot’s dimensions. Of all the various aspects of this project, the detailed write-up impressed us the most. The robot was designed in Fusion 360 and the parts were 3D printed allowing for maximum design flexibility for the next hacker.
Maybe [Technovation’s] biped will help resurrect the social robot craze. Until then, happy hacking.
Continue reading “Robotic Biped Walks On Inverse Kinematics”
[Fribo] the robot is a research project in the form of an adorable unit that hears and speaks, but doesn’t move. Moving isn’t necessary for it to do its job, which is helping people who live alone feel more connected with their friends. What’s more interesting (and we daresay, unusual) is that it does this in a way that respects and maintains individuals’ feelings of privacy. To be a sort of “social connector and trigger” between friends where every interaction is optional and opt-in was the design intent behind [Fribo].
The device works by passively monitoring one’s home and understands things like the difference between opening the fridge and opening the front door; it can recognize speech but cannot record and explicitly does not have a memory of your activities. Whenever the robot hears something it recognizes, it will notify other units in a circle of friends. For example, [Fribo] may suddenly say “Oh, one of your friends just opened their refrigerator. I wonder what food they are going to have?” People know someone did something, but not who. From there, there are two entirely optional ways to interact further: knocking indicates curiosity, clapping indicates empathy, and doing either reveals your identity to the originator. All this can serve as an opportunity to connect in some way, or it can just help people feel more connected to others. The whole thing is best explained by the video embedded below, which shows several use cases.
Continue reading “Social Networking Robot Actually Respects Privacy”