My Romo has arrived

imageMy Romo smartphone robot turned up yesterday! Romo is the brain child of a couple of guys in Las Vegas and the result of a pretty sucessful Kickstarter project (the first I have ever contributed to).

Romo is a simple tracked bot, about 15cm long, which charges via USB. What makes the Romo very cool, is the fact that it’s brains is your smartphone!

The Romo connects via the headphones jack to your smartphone and it accepts commands via short bursts of sound, created by the apps you run on your phone. The commands sound like short chirps.

Currently an app is available for iOS and Android devices, which lets you remote control your Romo. For this to work, you need two devices, one plugged into the Romo as its brain and other that acts as a remote control. Communicating via Wifi, you can drive your Romo around, get a video feed of what the Romo is looking at (via the attached smartphone’s camera) , take pictures and change the Romo’s expression with accompanying sound effects.

Unfortunately the Android app running on my Nexus One and Acer Iconia A500 does not seem to work :-( My Nexus produced no movement at all and the A500 only sporadically turned on the one track. This caused a bit of panic as I thought that my Romo was defective but I then connected it to an iPhone (using an iPod Touch as the remote) and everything worked fine.

Hopefully future releases of the Android app will fix my problems (the app was only released a few days ago).

However for me, the most exciting thing about the Romo is the fact that it has a full SDK that lets you write your own apps. This makes the Romo particularly suitable as an affordable robotics platform. Currently the iOS SDK is available on github, the Android SDK is due for release “any day now”.

If you are interested in the communications protocol check out this file and this file from the iOS SDK (no protocol docs have been released by Romotive yet).

If you want your own Romo you can get one here.