A small team of us in Toronto have developed a project called Moti, a Smart Motor that is controllable from a browser. It allows people to build robots, and make things move without having to build everything from scratch.
The project is up on Kickstarter now. We're still a long ways off from our campaign goal (which we set too high) but we're still optimistic. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out:
What we're calling a smart motor is an ideal servo with useful features already built-in. Each has a full-turn encoder, eliminating angle limits, so you can tell Moti to turn 5.3 rotations and it will stop with sub-degree precision. There's a bunch of on-board sensors including a current sensor for force feedback, as well as a voltage and temperature sensor. And of course at the heart of the motor is an Arduino-compatible microcontroller that you can program with an ftdi cable or our bluetooth shield. Moti is already loaded with custom firmware, so you can use our simple API to control it. Motis can act autonomously or be controlled from another device like your phone. We've broken out several pins so you can add electronics right to the motor. This is really useful if you're creating a multi-jointed robot, as you can add sensors at each node without needing any external microcontrollers. The motors daisy-chain together so you can snap together as many as you need for your project.
Though there are a lot of features, Moti is very easy to get started with. There's an app that gives users immediate control of every motor in the network using simple graphics like sliders and dials. So you can get things moving in minutes, allowing makers to focus on applications rather than electronics.
There's also a web-API so that you can develop custom websites, games and apps for your project. Our thinking is that once a robot is designed, others should be able to replicate it quickly. When combined with 3D printing and browsers, Moti makes it possible to simply print out a robot body, slot in the motors, and visit a website to bring the new robot to life.
I'd love to talk more about it with you here on the forum. We were thrilled this week that Arduino published about Moti on their blog. You can see it here: