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Bluetooth snoops with camera on wheels

Robot camera controlled from mobile phone

This year's CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, was expected to show some wacky devices, and at least one has lived up to that billing: a camera on wheels that can be controlled remotely with a mobile phone using short-range Bluetooth technology.

The wireless robotic device, called Rob-1, is being demonstrated at the Sony Ericsson’s booth.

Well, sort of… When this reporter stopped by early Friday, the device had a software glitch. "It works, believe me," said a technician at the booth. "Otherwise we wouldn't be showing it,"

OK, let's assume Rob-1 works. So what is it? Imagine an oversized yo-yo (about 11 centimeters) with a tiny navigation wheel mounted to the back and a stationary camera in the middle that can tilt downwards 20 degrees or upwards 70 degrees.

The device can be controlled by a joystick or keypad on a Symbian-based mobile phone or with the touchscreen in Sony Ericsson's P900 and P910 smart phones. The range is 50 meters.

Rob-1 can snap photos or stream video at up to 50 frames per second, with VGA quality, the Sony Ericsson technician said. A bright light on the front of the device allows shots to be taken in dark places.

Sony Ericsson's new remote camera on wheels is based on the wireless steering system that the company developed for its Bluetooth-enabled CAR-100, which was shown at CeBIT in 2003.

Rob-1 will be available in the third quarter.

Cebit runs until Wednesday 16 March.


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