Android to robotics: child's play, life changing
I've commented about a few robotics things recently (tennis, cyborgs and more), but I'm buzzing about the potential opened up with the combination of AppInventor, Lego NXT Mindstorm and Android.
AppInventor allows me to build a simple application for Android mobile phones by *just* dragging and dropping a few puzzle pieces around to build the logic and UI. The NXT Robot is a bunch of Lego Technic bricks, plus some sensors (e.g. Ultrasound, light, touch) and a few motors (but not just any old motor, effectively stepper motor style thing where you can control the speed and exact rotation angles), and a Lego CPU that can control the lot, and talk to all... including talking to the phone (and AppInventor app) via bluetooth...
The possibilities are endless. Well, I've been playing with a few ideas... it can become a mobile controlled curtain open & closer, or the mechanics that can make my space travel for my phone easier by for example deploying the parachute when the phone says so. Or, it can be the gadget that greet your customers when they walk into your reception... complete with a wave of the robotic hand... or shoot 'em when they go past without the RFID the phone expected to "see".
It's a fantastic toy for kids aged 10+ (like me), it's a high tech (and relatively inexpensive) prototyping tool, and I also think it could truly be tool for taking the magic of software and interact with the physical world in more ways than we've seen to date.