Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Projects

Christmas holiday time is a great time to relax and take your mind of work or school.

It's also a great time to look into  new hobbies, read new books, learn new stuff or catch up on those TV shows and movies that you may have missed out on.

One of the things I love to do is to use the time to work on a small project. The original TY the Tasmanian Tiger game began as a Christmas project way back in the early 2000's. I did the initial prototype programming while Steve Stamatiadis did the art for the in game characters including TY. But that's a blog post for another time!

This year I got a Sphero BB-8 for Christmas and my son got a Force Band to use with his Ollie that he got last Christmas. The Force Band works amazingly well with both the BB-8 and the Ollie. Being able to control your droid using simple hand gestures is the closest feeling you'll get to using the Force. It truly is amazing.

Being a huge fan of the Apple Watch I decided to start a Christmas project to make my own Force Band for my Watch.

The Sphero SDK is freely available for all platforms and is fairly simple to integrate into an iPhone Xcode project.  I found a great sample project from Robotics Trends that used the Watch's accelerometers to control a Sphero. This is a great entry point!

Trying out different control methods for BB-8 with Apple Watch
However I decided to start fresh and explore some other input methods that the Watch offers.

I tried using buttons and swipe controls to move BB-8 - all of which work okay, but the one I found interesting to explore is the use of the Digital Crown as a steering wheel.

This actually feels great having BB-8 move while rotating the crown to steer the little droid. I have a few extra features to add, such as a simple way to slow down and speed up the droid - and the UI could use a little love :-) 

Speaking of which,  I better get back to my Christmas project so my son and I can take our droids on adventures with the Force Band and Apple Watch.

I hope you all have a happy new year!

- Johnno

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