The BBC has developed a WiFi-enabled toy Dalek that can mimic the on-screen actions of the Doctor Who arch-villain, though fans hoping for a living room invasion will be disappointed. The "synchronised Dalek" project, the BBC's R&D team reveals, is a proof-of-concept intended to demonstrate the Universal Control system, a way of getting internet-connected devices to perform specific functions in time with TV shows on-screen.
Universal Control is being positioned as a way to replace the existing, button-encrusted remote, using internet-enabled devices like tablets and smartphones to not only function as universal remotes but interact with what's being broadcast. However, it could also have more advanced implications, such as "dual screen" setups as part of the burgeoning "internet of things" concept.
To demonstrate that, an industrial trainee placement graduate with the R&D team for six months took on the challenge of demonstrating how Universal Control could be integrated with an embedded device, in a creative way that would illustrate the "internet of things" potential. The end result was the screen-synchronized Dalek.
Unfortunately, since no commercial hardware actually supports Universal Control, the WiFi Daleks are going to remain concepts only for the time being.