For a $78 pledge on Kickstarter, Romotive will provide backers with their very own smartphone-controlled robot, called Romo, that lets you see where it's going by using the phone's camera. You can control Romo-- the same size as a small remote-controlled car -- with a computer, iPod touch, tablet or another smartphone as long as you have a wifi connection.
Romo allows owners to use a variety of Android or iOS apps to make their robots do fun stuff like spy on co-workers and draw pictures [ check this out ].
When we saw this we thought, "This is awesome, a smartphone-controlled robot!" followed immediately by, "My god, we hope terrorists don't get their hands on this."
Imagine if someone made their phone into a bomb and rolled it down a New York City subway platform. While not nearly as effective -- yet -- as their Predator drone counterparts used in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is the first step toward creating a smaller, concealable and potentially deadly device.
Of course, Seattle-based engineers Phu Nguyen and Pete Seid did not intend for Romo to become a terrorist device. The company is even planning on rolling out more products in the next year geared toward kids.
"Any technology could be used negatively," Phu says. "We're focused on building products that allow people to create, have fun, and share."
Romotive is raising $32K on Kickstarter and has already received more than $4.8K from 55 backers -- including TechStars cofounder and CEO David Cohen -- with 44 days left.
"Our vision is that the smartphone is an integral and powerful part of robot--giving it personality, sensors, cameras," Phu tells LAUNCH via email. "We are exploring wireless options for the communication between the phone and the robot, stay tune for that."
Romo has an acrylic base and comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and a USB charging cable.
Romotive also developed a free app, Romo Kart, a mixed-reality take on the classic Mario Kart game. Users can digitally "attack" other robots and cause them to spin out of control or disable their power.
Although creating the protype was easy, Phu says they went through numerous hardware and software interations to make it easy to use, cost little to replace and powerful.
Phu says that techshops like Metrix, where Romotive primarily does its work, and companies like Sparkfun.com and Pololu.com, which sell electronic parts, helped the team get its prototype together quickly.
Check out these frightening applications of RC devices converted into deadly weapons.
Flamethrower attached to an RC truck.
Paintball gun attachment.
Romo is made out an an acrylic base and has analog circuitry that lets phones using the correct frequencies drive the motors.
An elastic strap holds the smartphone in place by an elastic strap, and the robot connects to the phone through the headphone jack.
CONTACTS & LINKS
Email: Phmagic at gmail dot com