Last year, hackers rather quickly figured out that they could reuse a Microsoft Xbox Kinect 3D sensor as a low-cost form of machine vision – that’s right, technology to help machines “see.” Seeing is critical to interacting with the world around us, and now that the price barrier for machine vision has been broken, hackers are coming out of the wood work building Kinect-enabled robots.
Then, this week, the folks at Google unveiled something called Android Open Accessory. Combine that with the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform, and you make robot hackers start to salivate. Robotic nervous system anyone?
So, why do I think these two developments in particular are important? Economics. Change the economics of key components of intelligence like vision and nervous system, and evolution is bound to get a nice creative boost.
Small, interchangeable pieces of robots that people can combine in endless ways. Small pieces, loosely joined. That was part of what made Web 2.0 rocket to life – and it’s likely to do the same in the field of robotics. Hold on to your antennas. We’re about to take a wild ride.