MiP, an abbreviation for Mobile Inverted Pendulum, referring to the upside down design of the robot, drew lots of attention on the CES showroom floor. The less than five inch tall little guys on two wheels walked, talked, and danced for the crowd.
MiP was created by WowWee in coordination with the University of California San Diego Robotics lab. WowWee?s Adam Fairless and Alex Mullen designed the charming character. MiP comes equipped with GestureSense from XYZ Interactive Technologies which identifies the absolute x, y, and z position of an object in space, as well as its orientation with roll, pitch, yaw. MiP can be controlled by hand gestures or by Bluetooth on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.
The robots can carry their own weight, literally. One with a platter in his hands walked around with his twin riding on top. The platter, however, would be better utilized for transporting a beer to the end of the bar, or delivering a plate of scrambled eggs to the kids at the breakfast table.
These guys can be controlled by a free downloadable app from Google Market Place or the App Store. Functions include boxing, dancing, talking, and game playing. MiP will dance to a song you uploaded to the app from your music library. A very independent guy, MiP reacts to his environment. He can detect and avoid objects in his path. He even said ?ouch? when he bumped into something. MiP is capable of at least 100 commands.
Underneath the plastic body armor, MiP is a mass of boards and wires that facilitate his ability to entertain his owners.
What makes the MIP run?
Matthew Wight, who made MiP dance for us, wanted it known that MiP is completely hackable. He encourages everyone to get an SDK and increase MiP?s world. There are ports for your chips to access the firmware.
Matthew Wight show MiP off at CES
MiP was being shown in a second booth where a SparkFun Electronics representative showed us that he was doing just that ? programming MiP with a SparkFun Arduino. The DIY company byline is ?Products, Projects, and Tutorials to Let Your Geek Shine?. They sell breakout boards, tool kits, and prototyping tools. Their hardware is open source to encourage innovation.
The toy robot isn?t just a pretty face.
Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. MiP?s eyes flashed for example.
The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language based on Wiring, an open-source programming framework for microcontrollers and the Arduino development environment based on Processing, a programming language and online community. Wiring allows writing cross-platform software to control devices attached to a wide range of microcontroller boards to create all kinds of creative coding, interactive objects, spaces or physical experiences.
MiP will be ready for shipment late Spring with a probable price of $119 USD. If you want a robot to play with, MiP comes prebuilt with the option to do your own thing and customize him if you are handy with technology. Like R2D2 whom he only vaguely resembles, ya can?t help but love MiP.