Crammed with sensors, they can self-assemble, self-charge, can move up and down the wearer’s clothed body.
While wearable technology has culminated in smaller, less obtrusive devices, culminating in fitness trackers and smartwatches, but that need not always be the case.
Researchers from Stanford and MIT have teamed up to develop miniature robots jammed with sensors that can move around the human body while the wearer goes about their life without want or care.
According to their research paper, this novel approach has given the Rovables an edge over traditional wearables. While a typical wearable is static, Rovables can react to the environment and can seamlessly assemble into a wristwatch or a nametag depending on the environment.
Essentially tiny bots, the Rovables are no bigger than a ring box. Packed with a bettery, microcontroller, and wireless communications, they have a life of 45 minutes of continuous use. Thanks to their magnetic gripping wheels they can traverse up and down your body on top of your unmodified clothes.
According to the research team, by mimicking the movement of living organisms, Rovables can become truly autonomous. They can exploit this very feature to perform self-maintenance tasks such as plugging themselves for charging or maneuvering to get a reading for their sensors. Once their task is done, the Rovables can tuck themselves in and be unobtrusive.
Although currently, the Rovables can only move linearly since the team has yet to build a microprocessor powerful enough to handle the complex algorithms required for 3D movement.
It would be interesting if these small rovers can have machine learning capabilities built into them and can synchronise their movement and behaviour like a swarm. Hopefully innovators will latch on to the concept.
Check out this YouTube video featuring Rovables.