Problem: Your cat needs to be groomed, but you’re miles away. Solution: Hack together a bunch of gaming peripherals, cameras and a robot to do the task for you!
Moreso than any videogame or method of navigating the Xbox 360 dashboard, the true legacy of both Microsoft’s Kinect and Nintendo’s Wiimote will be the inventive uses found for the devices by clever hackers. Case in point: Taylor Veltrop’s Groombot.
The bot combines a head-mounted display, the Kinect’s three-dimensional camera system, Wiimote controls and a Nao research robot to solve the age-old dilemma of how a man might rub his kitty at a claw-safe distance.
A simple text description doesn’t quite do the device justice, but fortunately Mr. Veltrop offers a YouTube video of the gadget in action to demonstrate its prowess at stroking humankind’s fluffiest domesticated pal. Now would be a good time to hit play on the clip embedded at top-right.
Granted, the cat does appear a bit non-plussed by the whole experience (especially when Veltrop accidentally punches the animal in the head), but as a proof of concept, the Groombot works wonderfully.
As PopSci points out, the fact that a hobbyist like Veltrop was able to cobble this system together from simple, off-the-shelf components should be seen as an endorsement for how easy it would be to adapt this type of mechanical avatar technology to more dangerous situations. For instance, human lives could be saved by sending remote-controlled robots onto the battlefield instead of fleshy, organ-filled soldiers.
If it’s good enough to pet our finicky feline friends, it’s certainly good enough to headshot an assault rifle-toting militant at a thousand yards, right?