Who says Lego is just for kids? With the Lego Mindstorm series, people around the globe are able to easily build and program their own customizable robots. Recently, Dr. German Vargas, mathematics chair at the College of Coastal Georgia, decided to combine his Mindstorm EV3 set with another hackable toy - the Leap Motion Controller.

When the integration was ready, Dr. Vargas decided to have a little fun with it - concealing a laptop under his jacket and looping the Controller's USB cord through his sleeve. "It was fun to drive the robot around campus while hiding the laptop running the program under my jacket, but the best part was to respond to the question "where did you get that?" with "I built it and I programmed it!"



Getting started with Lego Mindstorms

While Dr. Vargas originally considered using an Arduino, he discovered that theMonoBrick Communication Libraries let him integrate everything into a single project - receiving data from the Leap Motion SDK and sending it immediately to the EV3 motors, all within C#. By downloading this compressed folder on his website, you can find his Visual Studio 2013 project, which in turn contains the full source code and linked libraries. You can also download the integration source code here.

Right now, the program works by feeding information to two motors. However, it's also easily extendible to access all the functionalities with the MonoBrick communication libraries. By playing with certain sections of code, you can modify the integration to make your robot respond to other inputs, like the number of fingers.

After posting his original video, Dr. Vargas took his work with EV3 to the next level. In the next video, you can see how he controls the robot remotely by watching video feedback from a mounted camera via AirServer. He uses pitch to move forward and backward, yaw to turn left and right, and his hand's position in the Y axis to control a small robotic arm.