My idea for the iRobot Challenge
Well, my idea is actually several ideas, but they all share the same theme:
Chumby + iRobot's Create
(And yes, I already have a Chumby)
This might sound crazy, like adding speakers to an iPod, but it is defiantly possible.
Since I don't have one, I can't say, for 100% sure, exactly how I'm going to make it work, but I have plenty of ideas.
(I'll work backwards)
The robot has 25 inputs. My last resort would to be to hook up the headphone jack to 2 of those inputs, and send signals by pulsing sound, similar to the way TV remotes pulse light. This is guaranteed to work, because Flash (which I'll be using in the project itself), can access the speaker. For robot-to-Chumby communication, there is the Microphone.
Next up, is building this Sensor Package module that you can use with your Chumby. This would also work great, since it has 8 digital outputs, 8 digital inputs, and 12 motor drivers (which I could probably use as more outputs). However, I haven't found out yet if you can access this from flash, so it may become an issue. However, it seems more likely than the following:
My first attempt is to tap into unused (in my setup) pins on the "Chumbilical", the main wire that connects the sensors to the main unit. This includes a USB port. Again, I am doubtful that Flash can access these, but I may be able to figure something out in Java or Phython.
So I've hooked this up to the Chumby, now what?
There are so many possibilities, because my new robot will now have various sensors from the Chumby, along with it's touch-screen display and WiFi.
One could start with the "physical alarm clock", an alarm clock that you'd chase down to turn off. (As seen on ThinkGeek, it's "Clocky") Although, this is very much underusing it's capabilities.
Next, of course, is the email alert system. When you're not on the computer, sometimes something external is a nice reminder :P In a workplace, lets assume someone gets an email every minute. This should be perfect timing for it to drive from cubical-to-cubical on every email. It would, however, be forced to rely on relative positioning.
After the frivolous, this could be set up as a system where the Chumby would display images of me, streamed form a webcam, as I control the robot. Attached, would also be a webcam, streaming from the robot to my computer. (This was done with the Make: controller and a MacBook) (And yes, the Chumby has a HTTP server in it, and can support some webcams!)
Heck! Why not have all three running at once :P
I defiantly think the first 2 are not Instructable-worthy, but I wanted to give some other examples. The 3rd would be the one I do ;-) It would be much lest costly than the full-sized version, this being under $350. (I'm guessing that's about 1/3rd the cost?)
Thanks for considering me as someone worthy of this "scholarship", I know I will use it over and over again if I end up getting it :D