Pleo XBee Wireless & Facial Recognition Hacks

Ugobe's Pleo robotic dinosaur may be a cute toy, but it's also a useful starting point for messing about with robotics.  A team at Otto-Friedrich-University in Bamberg, Germany, calling themselves GRIP (Group for Interdisciplinary Psychology) have posted two tutorials designed to wirelessly connect Pleo to a remote computer and give him the ability to recognise faces.

The wireless hack adds a small XBee module to the robot, hooking up to an internal serial port.  That allows you to monitor Pleo's current internal state and then send back instructions.  Using a wireless "spy camera", meanwhile, the GRIP team replaced the standard relatively low-resolution camera in Pleo's nose with the intention to perform real-time pattern recognition.

Of course, the basic processor that runs Pleo's usual functions couldn't cope with that, so the real crunching is handled by a remote PC and the outcome fed back into the robot's systems.  GRIP fully document the process of adding the camera and microphone, and setting up the XBee system, so if you're not all that fond of your Ugobe warranty it's something you could try yourself.

[via MAKE]