HYBRIDEX

A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences


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Romo The Robot

Romo 2Romo is a small robot that moves on tank treads and uses an iPhone for a face. Developed by Romotive as a result of a Kickstarter campaign, Romo includes a host of features, such as the ability to track a face, missions, and a programming lab.

Romo is assembled by attaching an iPhone or an iPod Touch to a small robotic base. An accompanied app turns the iDevice into Romo’s funny face. The face has a variety of expressions and emotional states, and by utilizing the front facing iOS camera Romo’s eyes can seemingly track objects adding life-like behavior to the robot. Romo moves around via tank like treads and can also tilt its “head”, the iDevice, to better look up and down. The face can be touched for a host of reactions, including tickling. Besides the AI controlled behavior, Romo can be remote controlled with an additional iDevice.

Romo comes with training missions to help use it in more varied ways. Completing missions unlocks advanced features: for example, Romo can learn to follow other objects and track both faces and paths marked on the floor. It can record and transmit anything it sees to another iOS device, thus allowing users to chat through it. The unlocked behaviors can be programmed in a free roam Lab mode to create unique behaviors.

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Gigo Future Car

Gigo Future Car 1Gigo Future Car is a remote controlled, constructible toy car that utilizes AR technology to create a virtual city for the car to navigate in. The user builds the car from LEGO-like building blocks and uses a smart device to control its movements and set-up AR routes.

Gigo Future Car by Future Toy Taiwan is a combination of forward thinking toy templates. First, the car comes unassembled and is built from LEGO-like building blocks, actually giving the user eight different construction possibilities. Besides a car, the blocks can be used to build motor bikes, planes, hovercrafts and helicopters (though none of the latter are actually able to fly). The vehicles are powered by a small motor and sensors that detect remote control commands.

Second, users are able to download a free app to control the car, while the tablet can be used as AR lens in conjunction with the toy. The car comes with AR markers that can be used to mark generic buildings and famous landmarks such as Eiffel tower. Cards laying on the ground create a virtual AR city that can be then navigated. The car can be programmed to follow various behaviors and can even navigate the AR city by itself.  


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iHelicopters remote controlled insects

iHelicopter insects 1iPhone-Controlled Beetle and iPhone-Controlled Bug are robotic insects, remote-controlled through an iPhone app. The 7,5 cm long mini-robots roam around on six legs looking deceptively like real crawling (rather large) insects.

iHelicopters continues their line of iDevice controlled robots (iHelicopter, iUFO, iSpyTank) with insects. There are two insects to choose from: the Beetle (pictured) and the cockroach-like Bug. Measuring roughly 7,5 cm long and wide, and little less than 3 cm tall when including the legs, the bugs could really fool a human being with their lifelike movements, legs moving rapidly back and forth. Still, while the manufacturer is called iHelicopters, neither of the bugs can fly. Both insects feature up to 6 meter control range via infrared transmitter and are charged via USB. Operating times are estimated at 20 minutes with one charge.

To get going, the users also need to install the free i-Robot app (on any Apple smart device). The iPhone-Controlled Beetle and iPhone-Controlled Bug are $39.95 each, and available in the Insects section of iHelicopters.net.


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Mechatars

Mechatars 1Mechatars is an interactive toy robot and a free virtual online game. Mechatar robot is a remote controlled toy that can both be used for completing missions and challenges against friends in the physical world, but also used to connect to the Mechatars online game.

With a Mechatar robot, kids are able to drive their toy around with the included remote control, complete offline missions and challenge their friends to online and offline Mechatar battles. Mechatars evolve both in and out of the virtual world. When you fight a friend, either online or in the real world, your robot gains experience points and becomes more skilled.  Speed, damage, defense, and other traits are taken into account. There are also attachable weapons available for purchase, which will also show up online when you connect your Mechatar Robot via the included cable. The bots are compatible with Mac and PC. Those without a robot can still play the online game for free. In the online game players can customize their avatars, earn or buy weapons and armor, and perform missions against the nemesis of the game, the Swarm. The primary location in the virtual world is the arena, where players spend their competitive time gaining experience and special attacks they then can download to their Mechatar.


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Parrot AR Drone 2.0

Parrot AR Drone 3The Parrot AR.Drone is a radio controlled flying quadrotor helicopter built by the French company Parrot. The drone is designed to be controlled with iOS and Android devices. Through a built-in HD camera, the user can see and record whatever the Drone sees.

AR.Drone is made of plastic and foam and is about 30 cm long. It connects to an iOS or Android device using Wi-Fi to control its actions. The Drone has two cameras which can be viewed through the device’s screen. This HD video stream can also be recorded on a USB drive. In addition, the Drone has the ability to recognize 3D stages, is compatibility with augmented reality flying games, and has an ultrasound altimeter that lets it hover.

AR.Drone is demoed with two games, a virtual combat called “DRONE WAR” with solo and multiplayer mode and a “ROBOT” solo game demo against a virtual Robot. Parrot has also launched ARdrone.org open API (application programming interface) game development platform, to encourage game studios and developers to make software for the Drone.


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Hot Wheels iNitro Speeders

ImageiNitro Speeders are miniature radio-controlled cars with a carrying case that serves triple duty as the carrying case, charger, and controller. Moreover, the free iNitro app for iOS devices lets players control the car remotely with a host of different control layouts.

iNitro Speeders have lots of zip, going in scale speeds up to 600 miles per hour. What puts the “I” in the iNitro Speeders name is the fact that it is compatible with the iPod Touch, iPad 2, and iPhone. The free iNitro app turns the smart device into a controller for the car. After downloading the app, users attach the R/C adapter into the headphone jack, calibrate the device into controller, and choose one of five ways to drive the car: dual-stick control, motion control, slide, pre-programmed routes, or draw and drive. The app also comes with a host of games and the opportunity to customize your driving profile and keep track of your progress. The Speeders come in three styles: Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang GT, and Ken Block Fiesta.

The touchscreen app and adapter really do seem like an added value without the added expense. The iNitro system costs only a little bit more than the plain Nitro Speeders from Mattel. The vehicle is powered by a permanently installed Li-Po battery. The controller requires four AA batteries, which are not included. The iControl adapter includes three button cell batteries.