3D printed 'SelfieBot' goes open source to encourage student robotics

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The team behind the 3D printed ‘SelfieBot’ has open coded its smartphone telepresence robot for schools and universities, to encourage students and young makers to build their own versions. SelfieBot remains available to buy either as a DIY kit or pre-assembled device.
Front-facing cameras on mobile phones have changed the way we communicate with friends, family, and business associates. Handheld video conferencing allows smartphone users to engage in face-to-face conversation any place, any time, and is perfect for quickly conveying essential audiovisual information. For some purposes, however, handheld video capture will not suffice. Just as mobile phone handsfree kits have been essential car accessories for many years, handsfree video or “selfie” kits are now staking their claim as an essential communication tool.
Last year, a Russian American robotics startup named Endurance presented the 3D printed SelfieBot as the ideal solution to all your handsfree selfie needs. Far more than a 3D printed stand, the smart machine promised to transform your handset into a mobile driven robot by providing biplane rotation of a mobile device and by tracking a speaker’s face using Google API and its dedicated app. Automatic motion tracking, remote camera orientation, and a host of other high tech features made the SelfieBot an incredibly useful device for a range of video applications, including conferencing, time-lapse videos, and more.
A recent announcement from the Endurance team sees the SelfieBot taking big, mechanical strides in a new direction: education. While the 3D printed device was originally being sold by the team as a DIY kit or prefab device—it remains available to preorder for $199—the entire SelfieBot, from its Android and microcontroller code, to its 3D printing files, to the list of individual off-the-shelf components needed to built the smartphone robot, has now been made open source for educational institutions.
While Endurance remains focused on marketing the 3D printed robot as a consumer product, it has now introduced a second objective to its operations: encouraging student interest in the 3D printing, robotics, and programming behind the SelfieBot, with the ultimate aim of building a SelfieBot developer community. According to the company, this decision could have benefits both for those building the 3D printed smartphone device and for Endurance themselves. Keen robotics students will be able to build the telepresence robot for a fraction of its retail price, while Endurance can also benefit from upgrades and changes suggested by the amateur builders.
Endurance is planning to make a number of improvements to the SelfieBot in the near future, such as improved iOS/Windows compatibility, an IR marker tracking system, wireless charging, a 6000 mAh external battery bank, improved movement sensing, and voice-activated control.
“Our mission is to educate and encourage students by means of a friendly robotics network, to empower them with knowledge and skills necessary to create and develop their own robots useful in the education sphere,” said George Formitchev, Endurance Co-Owner.