Pong, Carts and Smart Plants: Workshop at DFKI Saarbrücken

This week we stopped by the DFKI at Saarland University, specifically we visited Antonio Krüger’s group: The Innovative Retail Lab. With 14 participants our biggest group so far and after Darmstadt our second 2-day workshop. Hence, people had more time to work on their own projects with Gadgeteer. And this is what they came up with:


Using the IR distance sensor and a joystick, this ancient game was put into a physical shape including multiplayer capabilities. With a slight deviation: The ball was controlled by player one using the joystick while player two had to defend using the distance sensor which controlled the paddle. Graphical UI on the T35 touch display:

Pong - using IR distance sensor and a joystick

Pong – using IR distance sensor and a joystick

The Plant Watch:

This gadget found use for our OLED displays. The three techie magicians working on this project put together a temperature and moisture sensor to be placed into a plant’s bucket. Data were live-streamed to a web server where the smart watch would poll current information from.

Smart Watch - temperature, moisture and location

Smart Watch – temperature, moisture and location

Smart watch - monitoring plants' health

Smart watch – monitoring plants’ health

Additionally they integrated a GPS sender that could be placed into a dog’s collar to show the pet’s location on the arm-worn device.

Smart watch - dog monitoring

Smart watch – dog monitoring

If we had a device like that in production, we’re convinced that even our techies could grow a green thumb.

LED Space Invaders:

Another old classic: Space Invaders. This group got our 8×8 LED matrices working by bringing to life an I2C connection. While hostile projectiles rained down from the sky, the player had to move his ship to horizontal safety using two buttons for left, right and a hidden split-ship command.

Space Invaders - 4 LED 8x8 matrices

Space Invaders – 4 LED 8×8 matrices

Space Invaders - Game Over

Space Invaders – Game Over

Here’s a live demo video:

A special feature even prevented the player from dying. Absolutely gorgeous!

Barcode Reader for Shopping Carts:

Inspired by their current research efforts around the RFID-enhanced shopping mall, this group designed a gadget to be mounted on a shopping cart. When RFID-tagged items are placed into the cart thereby passing the RFID-reader, a product description is shown on the display and the ‘virtual’ shopping cart is updated.

Shopping Cart Gadget

Shopping Cart Gadget

Shopping Cart Gadget: Scanning articles

Shopping Cart Gadget: Scanning articles

On the sidelines our Robo got an XBee Extension, so he can now receive commands wirelessly and be remotely controlled.

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