March 2010
Working in conjunction with Right Brain Fabrication we built an animatronic robot face to interact with Kosmo’s customers. Two Peggy‘s act as Kosmobot’s eyes while four servo’s manipulate his aluminum eyebrows. This gives him some serious flexibility and a good range of expressions. We also had a script running so the operator could type in the words Kosmo would say and it would use the TTS from the Mac Kosmo lives in to speak.  Right Brain Fabrication built the mechanics and I did the electronics interfacing and programming.


This video by Bob Stack from Right Brain Fabrication shows some of the available expressions Kosmo has:

If you’re ever in Ann arbor and you want to order food from a robot get yourself to Kosmo and order some Bi Bim Bop!

Laser Cutter and Plotter Program

So while developing my $50 laser cutter I needed a program that would help me turn vector designs into a series of steps that could run the motors. These steps are human readable, here’s an example text file: Flutter File. If you were to take 0 as north, and 1 as north east, 2 as east and so on and walked this document out you would have drawn this charming man:

Pope John Paul II.

The program can be found here and is pretty neat, just upload a EPS file and it will turn it into a text file of steps to take like this:3result

The C program I wrote to run a set of stepper motors using this type of text file can be found here.

For a full description on how I made a laser cutter and how to make one for yourself can be found at my instructable.

There have been a few people who have made the laser cutter, but none as beautifully as Samuel Ward’s:



Face Controlled Game – Escape From Tibet


Escape From Tibet (EFROT) was a 2d game designed with XNA that utilized an interesting method for control. The assignment was to create a 2D game, and I thought back to some of my early memories of fun games that I used to play in two dimensions. One that I remembered was Ski Free! Man, what a great game! While trying to reformulate this old classic for our new machines I was considering that human computer interaction has been the same for decades, I thought we would try to manipulate our game differently. I thought of a way we could use the webcams that are on all of our computers to make this game more accessible to all, so you move your player by simply moving your head to one side or another, and by doing some face detection and determining which quadrant of the screen you were in we could then move the skier as he travels down the slope. My partner Aaron Curly made a wrapper for openCV so we could use it in C# and helped me write this fun game. All the code we wrote is available here.