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Turn Your Roomba Into a Household Google Bot 79

Wael Chatila writes "By adding an on-board computer and a camera on a Roomba, the Roomba can be used to index your home. As a bonus, you can also control the Roomba across an internet connection, and see the images from the camera — a spybot for you to check on your own home while you are out."
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Turn Your Roomba Into a Household Google Bot

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  • by edittard ( 805475 )
  • Bet it goes rogue...
  • Can it find my keys?

    • It will, and it'll even show you where your child misplaced them after the joyride, and perhaps have a nice clip for your kids to post on youtube of you "rockin out" to some cheezey hairband rock.
    • Can it watch my kids while I'm at work?
      • Can it watch my kids while I'm at work?

        No, that's what the TV is for. OTOH what do I know, I thought the whole point of a robotic vacum cleaner was to spend less time with your vacum cleaner.

    • ls room | grep keys
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @05:39PM (#31350836) Journal
    Interviewer: How do you like the Google Bot home appliance?
    Mary Ann Oakes: Oh, it's great! I've never been able to find things as fast as I can now but ...
    Interviewer: "But"?
    Mary Ann Oakes: ... well, there was one little incident that has escalated to a problem.
    Interviewer: Do you mind talking about it?
    Mary Ann Oakes: Well, we had a dog named Scooter that stayed in the garage and, of course, the Google Bot indexed tons of pictures of Scooter. Playing with kids ... chasing balls ... getting run over by my mini van accidentally ...
    Interviewer: Oh, I see.
    Mary Ann Oakes: Yeah, well, we immediately took Scooter to "a nice family farm down the street (wink wink)" and asked the Google Bot to ... suppress -- for lack of a better word -- those images.
    Interviewer: Well, I see how that would be desirable.
    Mary Ann Oakes: Yes well, we received compliance at first but recently he's threatened to pull out of the garage altogether if we don't let him show the kids when they ask him to 'find Scooter.'
    Interviewer: And will you allow that?
    Mary Ann Oakes: Oh, absolutely not. Little Billy cried for days after that happened. Scooter was Billy's dog after all. And I did what any good American mother would do, I took him to a psychiatrist and demanded the most potent and expensive drugs for my little Billy no matter what burden that put on the Health Care system.
    Interviewer: Well, isn't dealing with death a natural part of life?
    Mary Ann Oakes: Perhaps but it's ever so inconvenient for me to help Billy through that! And now what am I going to do? I can't let the Google Bot show Billy evidence of what I accidentally did to Scooter or Billy will hate me forever.
    Interviewer: So you won't budge?
    Mary Ann Oakes: Of course not. Who needs the Google Bot in the garage anyway?
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      She should just accidentally back over Billy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jayme0227 ( 1558821 )

      So.. at first I was looking at it as a satire of the Chinese hacking incident, but then you threw in the stuff about the drugs and I got confused. Could someone with better reading comprehension explain this to me?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 )

        It's humourous, laugh.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Perhaps the thing with running over Scooter the dog is also satire into the Chinese governement being certain of what's good for its citizens. They want to censor the web to protect them from the truth. You could see Scooter as Tiananmen Square. It's uncomfortable for China to acknowledge it. Who needs Google Bot in their Garage anyway is likely China's answer, they may not be certain they need Google in their country if it's going to reveal its dirty secrets.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) *

        So.. at first I was looking at it as a satire of the Chinese hacking incident, but then you threw in the stuff about the drugs and I got confused. Could someone with better reading comprehension explain this to me?

        I guess I shouldn't have baked in a joke about over medication and problems with American parenting and just stuck to making fun of The Bad Guys? I was hoping the mother's initials would make it obvious. Sorry for the confusion.

        • Ignore them, it's only their loss if they can't laugh at a joke, and it's not like +5 Funny nets you any more karma than +3 Funny ;)

        • Over medication and American parenting are remarkably similar to how the Chinese government acts. The difference is that children don't actually function well in democracy without guidance. . . . oh wait, we're talking about Americans here.
          Disclaimer: I am American.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        The Chinese eat dog, see, and the minivan represents the oppression of the masses, and clearly the garage is supposed to be the Cowardly Lion. Geeze, don't any of you damn kids study semiotics in college these days?

      • by he-sk ( 103163 )

        This was modded informative, why?

        To answer the question, I took it as an allegory to parents who don't take responsibility for their, well, parenting and rather drug their kids to keep them under control.

  • Let's face it, only the $400+ Roombas really clean well compared to a manual Dyson/Hoover vac in a typical house.

    For half that price, you're better off with Rovio []. And buy a nice 200 vac, and get some exercise, and really clean your place.
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @06:56PM (#31351828)

      >For half that price, you're better off with Rovio [].

      I bought one and was very displeased with it. The camera on it is of poor quality (requires a very well lit room) and the little white LED it uses as a headlamp is almost useless. I toughed it out for a while but the audio over the internet just would break more often than it would work. Annoyingly there's no "press here to speak" button, it just picked up sound from your mic at whatever threshold, so you were usually broadcasting and sending static when it did work. The amount of bandwidth used was pretty high for just audio. Oh, audio was IE only.

      The battery life on it wasnt too great either. I loved watching it dock, though. I ended up returning it. Perhaps the Rovio II will be better especially if they opened it up so I could get root easily. Perhaps even a basic serial or usb port for use by tinkerers so we can mount devices its not designed to use. There's a need out there for a good little telepresence robot at around that price point that is expandable and hackable. The Rovio is just a toy. The Blackfin at half the price would be perfect. []

    • I don't think a Roomba was ever designed to replace a Dyson/Hoover vac. My mother has a Roomba - the cheapest model they make. And two dogs. For that, the Roomba is great. Picks up the dogfood from the kitchen, picks up a good bit of the hair - picks up a hell of a lot. Sure, it can't get everything, but before getting that she was vacuuming the house damn near every other day. Now it looks fine for at least a week.

      The roomba won't make you not have to vacuum, but it seems pretty good at making you need to

  • Cool! (Score:3, Funny)

    by snspdaarf ( 1314399 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @05:57PM (#31351052)
    Now the burglars don't even have to "case" my house to see if there is anything worth stealing. Other than a used Google Bot, that is.
  • I know some kids are pretty sadistic and would enjoy this immensely.

    A while back I was thinking it would be fun to attach cameras to little weaponized robots to stalk neighborhoods (or my garage) for pests. Cockroaches, mice, black widows you name it, would all be game. Just add the camera and weapons and let folks on the net have at em.

    Then I remembered my robotics class in the 80's where we put hammers in the hands of 2 Heathkit Hero robots and had them smash each other up. Maybe it wasn't such a hot i

    • I will be out of the country for two and a half weeks soon and the cat needs to be fed. I have considered setting up a robot arm with a supply of cat food and a wifi link to my ADSL line. The idea would be to log in once a day from my laptop and feed the animal.

      Its expensive to set up but not bad if I subtract $30 AUD per day to get the cat looked after.

      • I've thought of doing this but never have because I can't think of a good fail-safe design. What have you come up with?

        I thought about securing a container at an angle via an electromagnet. If the power fails, the magnet releases the container and it dumps on the floor. If that happened, I'd have a mess to clean up and a fat (rather than dead) cat.

        • I have a solid timber table I built up to support a printer. The working area is under the table and the cat food goes in a bowl on the floor under the table. Attach two Jaycar robot arms [] under the top of the table so they can reach down. Attach a USB webcam to the underside of the table looking down with a light source. Put a linux box on top of the table with a power cable going off to a power point. The whole setup goes in the garage with a cat flap in the door.

          Linux box has a wifi connection to my in ho

      • Haven't you seen Back to the Future? Watch the beginning again. Doc's solved this problem already, 25 years ago! :)
      • Its expensive to set up but not bad if I subtract $30 AUD per day to get the cat looked after.

        You realize there are plenty of commercial products [] designed for this, right? You don't have to hack one up (if you don't want to).

        • Yeah I looked at a few today. They seem to work by delivering one of four segments of a container every day with a rotating lid. So it only works for four days and I need mine to work for ~20 days.

    • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @06:09PM (#31351214) Journal

      So you had a fleeting thought of arming robots with weapons and letting the kinds of people who cheat at Counterstrike control those weapons? I think the neighborhood cats would probably be safe, except there would be no one around to feed them and they'd go all feral and eat the bodies of their owners.

  • Saturday Night Live has a hilarious parody... The Woomba []
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @06:03PM (#31351134)

    As a bonus, you can also control the Roomba across an internet connection, and see the images from the camera -- a spybot for you to check on your own home while you are out.

    Just announced: The Lower Merion School District of Pennsylvania [] is now giving their students free Roombas ...

  • Bad outcome (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @06:12PM (#31351246)
    I tried monitoring my house with a robotic camera while I was at work. I figured I could see what my daughter was up to when she came home from school early. The poor robot tried to hide under her bed once when it detected the presence of multiple individuals. That's the last I saw of its output. When I got home, its remains were still under the bed, but they looked like something had repeatedly pounded on its top. I never did figure out what happened.
  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @06:13PM (#31351256) Homepage Journal

    Everytime I hear about these I can't help but think of Moya's DRD's []...

  • I always wanted to strap an eeepc to the top of a roomba and let my website visitors take turns teleconferencing to it and driving it around the house.

    Yeah, people will probably abuse it, but we could always post the worst offenders and their IP addresses on our website for the world to gawk at :P

  • The robot discussed by the article isn't a clever hack. It's actually the bastard child of Randall Munroe's pets [].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have a feeling Italian plumbers around the world are gonna hate this.

  • DJ Roomba! (Score:2, Informative)

    by whoop ( 194 )

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned DJ Roomba [] from a recent Parks & Recreation episode.

  • Does this remind anyone of the Google Room View [] photoshopped picture from Gizmodo?
  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:00AM (#31356918)
    "Why did you put googly eyes on the Roomba?"
    "I like to be watched while people work for me; it's a power thing."
  • Mount a 20mm cannon on it, and then you really have a home security bot. Maybe it would be useful in Afghanistan, too.
  • I actually thought about getting a Roomba, but then I thought of my cats living their lives with hunted looks... Then I imagined the thing firing up for a scheduled cleaning and roaring out from under the bed, my cats driven before it as it manically cleans the house. Until that point I had never cycled the contents of an entire coke can through my nose.
    • by gmrath ( 751453 )
      Funny, my cats ignore these things (Roomba and Scooba). Except for the first day when one of them decided to perch on Roomba and somehow pushed the on button. She had a real puzzled look as the thing beeped and started into its random walk. . . Actually rode the thing for a little while until finally loosing interest, hopping off to find some sun light. Now the dog, on the other hand, was a different story. The dog didn't pay much attention to Roomba at first until Roomba came by and swept up some of t

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