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Put an Old Phone to Good Use--Make it a Lego NXT Telepresence Robot

Turn your old Android phone into a smart security system controlled remotely, with a little bit of help from Lego.

Do you have an old Android phone stored away that you keep only for emergencies--or just aren't sure what to do with it? You could breathe new life into the semi-retired handset by strapping it up to a Lego Mindstorms NXT set and turn it into a household security robot.

Wolfgang Beer developed the telepresence robot as a way of monitoring his home while he was away. The robot cruises around the house and gathers images, and uses an HTC Magic phone connected to the NXT robot kit. The Android phone works as a controller for the robot, which can receive signals over the Internet and transmit the commands via Bluetooth to the NXT microcontroller.

The actual robot part of the build is pretty straightforward--it's made up of a few bricks that holds the phone and battery in place. The robot picks up the commands through a small nanohttpd server, which also serves a HTML5 controls page. The controller page displays the on-board camera, and simple up, down, left, and right buttons for driving the robot.

Of course, while this is a good project to try out for yourself if you have an Android phone handy, it does require a fair bit of coding. Fortunately, Wolfgang has most of the code you will need available on his blog, or useful links to help.

Still, this is one pretty cool way of seeing what the cat is up to while you're gone, or, if the worst does happen, at least startle a burglar into leaving your property.

[SmartLab via Hack A Day]

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