Few limitations can hold the possibilities of the Arduino back from being a supreme interactive prototyping toolkit. In fact, when our Directors asked the team for ideas, the results were unsurprisingly diverse, given the potential for interactive projects. A video-meshing stomp pad, a facial imprinting pin box, a colored keyboard. Almost anything in interactivity can be achieved through the device a size of a wallet. Untold Labs spent a day in the February learning exactly what the Arduino was. This month we made something of it and found its flaw.
Our Labs Specialist said it was a brilliant idea. He had, after all, came up with the idea to create mini robots that interacted with real-life human movements in real-time. Think Hugh Jackman in the movie “Real Steel.” With 2.5 hours he pitched that we build a small robot that would react to movements fed through a Kinect and a human user swinging his arms.
Meet B.A.R.B. Using fingernails and a child’s robotic building kit, we built our own robot model using Servo motors as arms. In its entirety, the robot would move from side to side, like a swaying boxer, with help from a Servo-motored track. A motor for both arms gives the robot a 180-degree punching movement, going up and down. LED lights inside of its head would “bruise” the robot’s face the longer the match continued. Motion capture allowed us to use real-time Kinect inputs that translated into the robot’s arm movements. The only flaw was a lack of power and inputs for three Servo motors — to be solved with a beefier Arduino.
Foosball is played at any given chance in our office. It’s kind like a big deal. So, the idea the Directors also asked us to pursue was to create a real-time foosball scoreboard that would hang from the top of the table as if you were a giant in a sporting arena.
The premise was simple. Using laser pointers mounted in the goal boxes at each end, we’d create a trigger. Every time the light was “broken” or “interrupted” by the ball, the Arduino would signal the LED lights inside the score box to light up. First to five goals win. The surprise was the immediacy of the trigger and the score on the board. In all it takes about a second or two. However, given that we relied on wires, the reaction maybe delayed if wireless. That would be a question we’ll continue to pursue.