Looking Outwards – Sparkfun and Adafruit

Adafruit MPR121 12-Key Capacitive Touch Sensor ($7.95)



This is a sensor that has 12 capacitive touch inputs for Arduino. A capacitive touch sensor is basically a device that detects when a small amount of capacitance is passing through an object – e.g. when an electrically conductive object meets another electrically conductive object. Turns out that the human hand is electrically conductive, making this 12-input capacitance sensor ideal for detecting human touch against some other object with electrical conductance, such as metal, salt water, graphite and plants. In addition to the somewhat obvious idea of treating various conductive objects as buttons, I think this sensor could also be used to implement a nervous system for an artificial lifeform, such as a motile robot covered with plants, or a potatoBot.

EasyVR Shield 2.0 – Voice Recognition Shield ($49.95)



This is a system that makes it rather easy to make an Arduino-based device respond to voice commands. The shield does all the voice processing within range of its microphone, and presumably sends signals to the Arduino’s inputs depending on what voice command was interpreted. This shield will probably make building voice-controlled robots a lot easier, as well as making them self contained (no large computers need to be hooked up to do the voice processing). For this, I’m thinking of a machine placed in a public area that detects the frequencies of certain words and writes down what it hears in big plain text for all to see. This shield could also potentially be used to take orders at a restaurant, and culinary hilarity may ensue from misinterpretation of speech.

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