Sound, tele-presence and robo tinkering: Workshop at ETH Zurich

Third stop: ETH Zurich. We started off early in the morning and welcomed 11 participants to our first workshop ‘abroad’. When we broke out into groups, among them two 2-people teams were formed who decided to collaborate by splitting up their project into two bigger modules: One input, one output device. The result was the

Remote controlled camera for tele-presence:

Telepresence - Remote Control

Telepresence – Remote Control

The idea was to hold a device in hand on which a screen was mounted showing the remote conversation partner. By turning the device the compass sent off measurements to a webserver via the wifi-module which in turn controlled the pointing direction of the remote camera. This camera was using servos to be positioned and received input from the web-server via another wifi-module. Great idea, packaging and our first project including network functionality.

Telepresence - Remotely controlled camera

Telepresence – Remotely controlled camera

Sinus Wave Generator:

In the first hands-on part this group started off quickly by applying visual processing techniques to the camera’s video stream. By identifying the brightest point in the frame they managed to highlight (draw an eclipse) the bright spot on the multitouch screen.

Visual processing with Gadgeteer

Visual processing with Gadgeteer

But their real passion was geared towards audio. And so they used the input from a potentiometer and joystick to manipulate a sinus wave and output it through the audio module. To visually display the frequency spectrum they were planning on using the 8×8 LED matrix, but due to time constraints, some soldering confusion and a mysterious exception emitted by the Gadgeteer library, the LEDs unfortunately never saw the day of light.

Audio generated by potentiometer input

Audio generated by potentiometer input

Biometric Snake:

Snake – one of the old classics in video game history – must have inspired generations of programmers. And so it infected this team as well: But unlike the conservative version that used to be controlled by buttons, their gadgeteery solution used the readings from the accelerometer to steer the snake’s direction. Neat graphical output on the multitouch screen and on top the connected pulse sensor that directly mapped the player’s heartbeat to the snake’s speed. So the more excitement, the faster the snake, the more excitement, the faster…

Biometric Snake - the player's pulse affects the snake's speed

Biometric Snake – the player’s pulse affects the snake’s speed

The Robo Connection:

Robo - FEZ mini microcontroller

Robo – FEZ mini microcontroller

Finally someone took on the challenge to extend our lab pet Robo. This fellow runs a FEZ mini microcontroller and implements simple move commands. The team around Robo focused on building a serial connection between his microcontroller and .NET Gadgeteer in order to send commands and data back and forth. The idea was to have Robo spin around the room and look for RFID-tagged appliances. Hence, he was equipped with RFID-reader as well as IR-sensor to avoid collisions. There was a remote control hooked up via Gadgeteer to manually steer Robo around the room. A battery pack was strapped to his back so he could explore his environment wirelessly.

Robo extended: Gadgeteer connection, IR, RFID sensor and remote control

Robo extended: Gadgeteer connection, IR, RFID sensor and remote control

Once again, participants came up with amazing ideas that made the trip to Zurich worthwhile… despite a rather costly 40 EUR meal at the student cafeteria.

Gamer over.

Gamer over.