A robotic car made with the Ziro kit and a mounted smartphone (via Ziro)
We recently learned about a race where you can control a drone with your mind. How about a buildable robot you can control with your hands? No, I don't mean with an RC control. I mean telling a robot where to go, what to do with your hand. Ziro is yet another kit that wants to make building your own robots simplistic and fun. Think of it has a more advanced version of Lego Mindstorms. Ziro is a robotics kit made up of separate mechanized motor modules that are controlled via a wireless smart glove. I reported about Ziro's effort back in January. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Ziro is back with something new, and a new crowdfunding effort. I love this robot... I plan on contributing to the effort for sure.
You don't any need specialized tools or expensive materials to make these bots. Instead you deign and construct bots out of any material at your disposal. There are even pre-made starter kits in case you don't have anything laying around. Builders can then use the companion smartphone app to configure the modules using the pre-made programming templates. Or if you have the know-how you can input your own custom gestures.
The glove, that helps control the bot, is connected to Wi-Fi and has preset gestures built into it that can be programmed to trigger actions in each unit. Pushing your palm down can accelerate the bot and push it forward. Or if your turn you hand to the left, the bot will turn left. Think of it as if the Nintendo Power Glove actually worked.
Sounds like it could get complicated, especially with so many parts involved, but Ziro wants to make the process simple. The mechanical parts include a servomotor that can rotate clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the hand gesture. There are also hinge units that can be attached to these motors, which help moves arms up and down. But these servomotors are different from the standard ones: these ones can turn 90 degrees or spin faster or slower depending on the intensity of the input. The motor works fast than you can bend your wrist.
Both the robotics units and the glove are battery powered. Users should be able to get around seven hours of playtime in one sitting. And don't worry about finding an outlet to charge these things; ZeroUI includes a charging base with their kits. But if you don't feel like dismantling your creation it took hours to make, there are also micro USB changing ports for simple charging.
The team behind ZeroUI demonstrated their new kit by creating a simple car made of 3D printed parts, magnets, plastic wheels, a smartphone, and four motor units at the New York Toy Fair, but they already have bigger things in store for the future. They're working on an SDK for the glove to allow other developers to find other uses for the glove. They also hope to get Ziro in classrooms to give kids an introduction to robots. The team hopes Ziro will inspired kids to dig deeper in the world of robotics and make their own creations.
Right now, Zrio kits are available on Indiegogo. There's a starter kit, which includes the Ziro Trike parts for $150. The Pro kit, which includes parts for the trike and the rover, can be ordered for $200. Ziro kits should start shipping around January 2017.
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