The eighth edition of Make: magazine’s Maker Faire Bay Area event last weekend gathered hundreds of innovators and makers, as usual. One of the main stars of the self-proclaimed “Greatest Show and Tell on Earth” was undoubtedly Italian company Arduino, which unveiled two new products at the fair.
The Arduino Robot Kit is the company’s first robot and the first product to go beyond microcontroller boards. The Arduino Robot is made of 2 circular boards based on a design created together with robotics soccer world champions Complubot.
The two boards are both equipped with ATmega32u4 from Atmel and connected by ribbon cable. The entire robot kit measures about 10 cm in height and 19 cm in diameter.
The Arduino Robot’s top board is provided with color LCD display, a slot for microSD card, EEPROM, speaker, compass, and various other button. The bottom board hosts 4 AA NiMH batteries, a couple of wheels and motors, power connector, switch and infrared sensors. The top board is in charge of controlling the display and the I/O, while the bottom board manages power and drives the motors.
Arduino’s robot kit is basically a platform designed to help users build interactive machines and learn how to program robots. It is easily customizable thanks to the existing prototyping areas and connectors. The kit was sold for $275 at the fair and will also be available online as of July.
The Wi-Fi enabled Arduino Yun
Besides the robot kit, Arduino also unveiled the Arduino Yun, the first of a series of Wi-Fi enabled products. The Yun puts together a Leonardo board (also with Atmel’s ATmega32u4) and an Atheros AR9331 WiFi Soc. The platform runs a Linux derivative called Limino and is also provided with Ethernet, USB port, microSD slot. The board will be available in June, at a retail price of $69.
CastAR game system
One of the major highlights of the Maker Faire was the CastAR augmented reality game system, created and unveiled by two ex employees of game publisher Valve: Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson. The two set up a company called Technical Illusions and have finally revealed the product they had been working for before leaving Valve: a pair of 3D augmented reality glasses.
What separates castAR (AR obviously stands for augmented reality) from other similar systems is that it does not actually try to keep the user immersed in the virtual world while blocking everything from the real world. The CastAR allows wearers to still see what goes on around them, thus mixing reality with the virtual world. This makes the experience smoother and more fluid and will prevent wearers from feeling nauseous or disoriented.
Ellsworth said she is planning to organize a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to be able to turn the prototype into a final product. She added that she wants the whole kit, which contains glasses, camera, projector and reflective surface, for less than $200.