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Smartphone wheel accessory lets it move independently

02 August 2016

Researchers at the University of Tokyo designed a set of wheels that attaches to your smartphone, allowing it to move away or approach you independently.

Image courtesy of University of Tokyo/YouTube

The researcher’s prototype controls the phone’s linear and rotational movements. The accessory includes the following items:

• A set of wheels

• Circuit board equipped with micro-controllers

• USB-serial convertor 


• Motor drivers

• Rotary encoders 

The motor part of the accessory allows the phone to push objects; a push towards the owner informs them of notifications and messages if they are not near. The scale trace feature allows the phone to take measurements of an area, the owner controls this manually by wheeling the phone around. Perhaps the most ingenious, the ‘runaway snooze’ feature senses when the owner is trying to extend the alarm time and instead it runs away. 

The wheels function independently on a flat surface, if for example the phone is on a bed, its manoeuvrability will be limited. The wheels and casing have been 3D printed for ease of manufacturing and cost reduction. 

The researchers Takefumi Hiraki, Koya Narumi, Koji Yatani and Yoshihiro Kawahara have created a video that demonstrates all the features mentioned above. This design will be presented at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) in October.

Source: Motherboard

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