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Watch Video: A robot that can keep eye on home via Twitter

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Ever heard of a social robot? Well, Kolkata-based IT company Edifixio India Pvt ltd. has won the Oracle IoT Developer Challenge with their winning entry Bot-So, a social robot that can be deployed for remote home surveillance by sending it commands via Twitter.

By Krishna Vamsi

Debraj Dutta, one of the robot developers, shares how he went about developing the robot using the open source Rasberry Pi platform.

Devices connecting to Internet was our main objective. We thought of connecting the humans with the IoT devices and the most homogenous platform which we thought was the social media. There was massive transformation over a decade and social communication came on Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter; and it is cheaper and popular as well. We gave a shot.

Why Twitter?

Twitter is a great platform. It has this connectionless service where you don’t always need to stay online and also there would be notifications in case of any private messages. It has that online flavor. And we can share pictures and links to videos also.

Does the bot (Bot-So) have voice capabilities and real-time command driven features?

There is a limited voice capability. It has a sound card which allows you can put up a small speaker or a headphone and program few prerecorded messages (Text-to-Speech) through some language processing tool. But I assure it can be extended using more functionality.

Secondly, you can include capabilities of what Apple provides through Siri. It needs an analysis of semantics and many other cost driven features but then again, we limited our bot to using open source.

Why was Raspberry PI used?

We wanted everything to be open source, even the hardware. You can buy Raspberry PI which includes a complete documentation of the usage. You can incorporate it anywhere and use. And it is cheap as well.

Does it have Wifi or Ethernet connection?

It has both WiFi and Ethernet. As the technology is IoT, it would be pointless to use neither of these. Other than that there could be a possibility of call back options through GSM data cards, but for now we haven’t configured any of these.

What is the power source for the bot?

USB power source. It doesn’t have a battery though. So, in case of continuous power requirement, you can connect the bot to a UPS source as the power consumption is very low. I suggest that you connect even the router to the UPS for a consistent usage.

I found that in the video the hand was waved a couple of times for the bot sensors to pickup.

When it comes to sensor. We just used a 30 m and 120 radius sensor for the purpose of demonstration of communication between the sensors and the Internet. As such there is no hardware limitation as I already told you that it is just a prototype we worked on. You could use high power sensors and better resolution cams as you budget permits.

Can there be an option to stream the video by the bot to get a real-time surveillance experience?

For that we have to deploy a video streaming system. We already have a 40 second video upload which the bot provides a Goggle plus link. But when used for industrial purpose, you can always customise to make it better equipped by getting a video streaming service maybe.

How did you get about with the entire plan?

We were interested in IoT, which is the new buzz word, then we heard about the Oracle IoT challenge. We started begin by tinkering an initial setup here and there, but we hadn’t had a concrete idea of what to be made. Our job requires working with Java, social media and data mining, so we easily relied on the already acquired skill set to leverage our project.

What was the cost incurred?

You can get the bot done with these basic capabilities of temperature sensing, pictures and video coverage and intrusion sensing in just about Rs 5000 or Rs 6000. Then you can customise depending on the necessity for both domestic and industrial usage.


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