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Insert Coin: Botiful telepresence robot for Android (video)

Insert Coin: Botiful telepresence robot for Android (video)
Zach Honig
Zach Honig|July 27, 2012 2:18 PM

In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.

Remote-controlled cameras are nothing new -- heck, some even ride atop robotic vacuums -- but this Android smartphone-powered device delivers quite a bit of versatility in a petite package with a reasonable price tag to boot. Botiful, a "social telepresence robot," serves as a roving platform for your Android smartphone. You can move the handset (and its front-facing camera) up and down as it speeds along any flat surface, responding to commands from someone on the other end of a Skype video chat. Once you connect the device to your Android phone through Bluetooth or USB, you can control its direction from a pop-up window within Skype, letting you position Botiful however you see fit. If your Android phone doesn't have a front-facing camera, you can flip it around to use the rear shooter -- of course, you won't be able to see the display in this configuration, so it won't be ideal for two-way chats. Naturally, this makes the duo a natural choice for surveillance and baby monitoring, but it can also be used to provide a more immersive experience during conference calls or for sending back video from locations that aren't easily accessible, such as the undercarriage of a car.

Designed in a garage in California (no, really), Botiful is already functional, with working software as well. The current configuration requires Skype for control, though an SDK will allow developers to create other control apps for the device -- and who knows, the seemingly capable inventor could release another tool of her own before it's set to hit production later this year. With much of the design already completed, the project sponsor is turning to Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to launch Botiful to production -- the device could ship as soon as November if it reaches a $90,000 goal before August 22nd. Available in white, blue or red, the remote-controlled rig is currently only compatible with Android, though iOS support may come if funding exceeds a $100k threshold. There's still more than three weeks to go to make your pledge, with a limited number of pre-order slots available for $199 (retail pricing is expected to come in at $299). Hit up the source link below to show your support.

Previous project update: Radian, another remote-controlled camera of sorts, has nearly reached its $178,750 funding goal with three weeks to go. There's still time to "pre-order" a kit of your own with a pledge of $150 or more.