[CEATEC 09] Some developers have extended the smartness of the Roomba vacuum robot by using simple 2D barcodes to give it instructions. There are about two dozen codes, and each mean something specific like “clean this place” or “go over there”. This works by controlling the Roomba with a computer that is connected to a (plain) webcam that can read the barcodes, but also provides a map of the surroundings. It basically adds a whole lot of smartness to an otherwise relatively dumb (but efficient) robot. I’m not sure how this could ever turn into a product, as not many people would want to have a dedicated computer and install a camera on the ceiling, but the concept is interesting.
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