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Telly the Telepresence Robot - #inventforgood

by joeywilson

Published on April 1, 2016

My #inventforgood submission

This little two wheeled robot is a modular extension of my Woodrow robot with a twist. It lets you be in two places at once!

Simply place a smartphone running Skype or Google Hangouts into the dock and connect the 3.5 mm audio cable into the audio port of the smartphone.

The phone's audio output is split into two paths. The first path is connected to the microphone/synth speaker bits for audio amplification. This just plays the audio from the phone thru the synth speaker.

The second path is connected to the SoundControl Bit (awaiting release when the bitlab reopens, hopefully) which is then connected to two reversible motors. Check out the the "Triad the Robot" video for more info on Sound Control.

The SoundContol bit is essentially eavesdropping on the call, listening for a few particular tones that it uses to drive the two motors. There are four unique tones in this example. Two tones to control forward and back for both the right and left wheels.

On the computer used to place a Skype call to the robot, I'm using a simple piece of software called "loopback" (I'm on a Mac..) that lets me mix different audio sources. Using this technique I can mix my "trigger tones" into the Skype call (or google hangouts) directly which gives me complete control of the robot from afar.

By using the SoundControl bit, there was no coding required to create this little robot.

The robot itself was created in three layers. The bottom two layers basically comprise the "drive train" which includes the two reversible motors, a power bit, battery and a wireless receiver bit. This portion of the robot can be operated independently as a little remote controlled vehicle when paired with a wireless controller.

The top layer contains all of the bits required for the telepresence functions including a power bit & battery, synth speaker & microphone bits, SoundControl and wireless transmitter bit.

The top layer attaches to the bottom two layers magnetically and since the two sections are communicating wirelessly, there is no need to connect any wires to make it work.

The reason I designed it this way is because I wanted to build a series of different robots whose functions change by swapping out the top layer. See my Woodrow robot project for an example of this and note that they share the same bottom two layers.

Credits: The SoundControl Bit was created by Joey Wilson & Michael Schippling

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