When Tyler DeAngelo asked if we'd be interested in checking out his new project, we jumped at the opportunity. After all, we were pretty blown away with Fifth Avenue Frogger, his hacked arcade cabinet that incorporated real-time webcam footage of a busy Manhattan street into gameplay. His latest project, Check 'N Chew certainly has more apparent commercial applications, offering up a form of immediate gratification for social media users. The concept is fairly simple: check into Foursquare, get a gumball.
DeAngelo (with help from fellow modders Matt Richardson and Ben Light) has hacked an off-the-shelf gumball machine with a stepper motor, Arduino and an XBee radio. There's also a port on the rear of the machine that plugs into a wall to power it all. The Check 'N Chew communicates wirelessly with an ethernet-to-wireless gateway device. When someone checks into an authorized location, information is sent from DeAngelo's server to the gateway, and a gumball is dispensed. The whole process is quite speedy, only taking a couple of seconds from Foursquare check-in to gumball dispensing.