Video calls are a great way to stay in touch with family, friends and associates. Services such as Skype and Face Time are increasingly popular.
But what if you want to go further than just watch a screen? What if you want to project yourself - part of your will - into the environment you are communicating with? I am talking about an active tele-presence.
One place to start is simply being able to adjust the view angle of the camera you are watching. Another step in the right direction is to be able to move your viewing camera about, like you are walking around a room.
Solutions for both of these problems are not often found together and generally out of the cost range of most consumers.
This is where the “Phone as Brain Wheeled Tele-Presence Enhancer” comes into play. The PhaBWTPE is a simple and small wheeled platform that uses any smart phone to allow an incoming video caller to control the position of the phone in the environment. By using signals that come in over a video call, the device is completely independent of smart manufacturer type and requires no apps other then any users preferred video calling software.
The current build uses the Open Source Hardware Arduino microcontroller to sense changes in screen darkness to control the platform (the caller adjusts a light on the calling end to control, left, right and forward movement). The future build will implement the Goertzel algorithm to detect audio signals sent from the caller to control the wheeled platform.
The Phone as Brain concept utilizes the immense computing capability already present in many homes, and exploits it to make a very handy accessory.