by David Geer
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rovio, Robotic House Sitter
Out of the west rides a three-wheeled guardian named Rovio.
When the family is not at home, Rovio roams, the internal landscape
(carpets, hardwood floors, tile), keeping a CMOS sensor eye open at
all times, monitoring property, pets, and the home environment.
Rovio uses a single VGA CMOS
sensor to facilitate image
capture and digitization so
that images can be processed, stored,
and transmitted over a network to
the end-user via access points or
Rovio’s built-in computer “eye”
operates like an IP camera on the
network, according to Davin Sufer,
chief technical officer of Wow Wee
Robotics. During Rovio setup, a
Wireless Access Point (WAP) assigns
an Internet Protocol (IP) address to
Rovio’s web server. This enables the
user to connect with Rovio from any
web browser across the Internet and
check on things at the home front.
The user can hear audio and see
video that Rovio has collected during
During Rovio setup, software
enables the user’s computer with an
ActiveX control so they can use the
Internet to receive compressed video
and audio transmissions from Rovio.
If they use the same
computer to connect to
Rovio remotely, they can
use its Internet Explorer
web browser to receive
If the consumer uses
another computer for
remote interaction with
Rovio, they will receive
streaming MJPEG video
only and no audio.
The ActiveX control
lets users stream audio
from their remote PC
through Rovio’s speakers,
from wherever they are so
long as they have an
Internet connection. It
also lets them hear audio
This is a front angle view of Rovio, the mobile
robot, which has web cam and audio capacity.
Rovio has tucked its head, web cam, and neck
away atop its body.
Photos are courtesy of WowWee.
from Rovio’s microphone, so they
can listen in on what is happening
at home. “Rovio’s owner can speak
to people in the remote location
(home) and hear their responses,
too,” says Sufer.
Three omni-directional wheels
mobilize Rovio’s mechanical drive
base. While the motors that drive
Rovio’s wheels are still in pre-production (product not available
until later this year), there are plenty
of details to whet the appetite for
the release of more information,
and eventually Rovio itself.
Rovio’s mechanized neck and
sensor-equipped head rest in the
down position until called upon to
raise to the up position, from which
it can look forward and around at
children, pets, or potential intruders,
or for fires or other disturbances.
“The CMOS sensor can be
pointed in basically any direction by
moving the robot around (side to side,
forwards, and backwards rotation, as
well as by tilting the head upwards
and downwards),” says Sufer.
From its third, “looking up”
position, Rovio can check people out
as he travels the halls, rooms, and
corners of an office or abode
independently. Thanks to its NorthStar
system, Rovio knows where it is in
relation to its base station and the
10 SERVO 04.2008