Rico – Turn your used smartphone into a smart-home security device

Rico is a smarthome security device that uses your old smartphone as its brain and eyes. We took away the clutter of heavy and expensive home security hardware and replaced them with an old smartphone. All you need to do is install an App into your old smartphone, insert it into Rico, turn it on, and your smarthome security companion is ready.

Rico has just launched on Kickstarter

Kallidil Kalidasan, the CEO of MindHelix, Inc which created Rico says, “Smartphones are really powerful devices with HD cameras, microphones, 3G and WiFi connectivity and a powerful processor. Rico takes these capabilities and uses them to transform your home into a smarter, secure home at an affordable price point.”

Users connect with their Rico through the Rico App which will be available across all major smartphone platforms. Rico comes equipped with sensors that detect the slightest changes in your home like temperature, humidity, motion, carbon monoxide, smoke, natural gas, noise levels etc. It will immediately alert you when something goes wrong and you can even watch live video of your living room with Rico App. Rico also comes with smart power sockets which can control your appliances using the Rico App from anywhere.

Whilst Rico is an effective solution to home security, Kali points out that the product is trying to solve a much bigger problem. “We love how cute Rico is. But the reality of how many smartphones are wasted is not so cute. So we decided that this would be a focus for us when we began the project. It turns out that we have created not just a viable alternative use for your old smartphone, but an industry-disrupting product. Because of this, we truly believe it is going to take the world by storm.”

He is right. For the average consumer, the shelf-life of a smartphone is 24 months. According to IDC, of the over 280 million smartphones that were sold last year, many will be replaced without being recycled. These phones are toxic to the environment, polluting the air and contaminating soil and water with metals and plastics. What’s worse is that over 90% of these will be in perfect working order.

With Rico, MindHelix aims to disrupt the smart-home market and then encourage us to rethink how we consume electronics. The company plans to open up developer APIs for Rico, allowing developers around the world to create a community and help Rico grow. Kali says “We’ve developed working prototypes of Rico and we need your help to bring Rico to market. We want to solve the problem of used smartphones creating a huge environmental impact. Rico helps consumers repurpose them for something as cool as a smart home solution”.

Rico is a product from Mindhelix, Inc a Bay Area based startup which was part of the batch 3 at the Alchemist Accelerator program.

Rico is now raising $100,000 on Kickstarter and has already chalked up 30% of its target in the first week. Kickstarter page here : http://kck.st/1pmEqzN

VEX IQ Unboxing, detail pictures

The VEX IQ system was designed to be simple and easy for students to use. Structural pieces snap together and come apart without tools, allowing for quick build times and easy modifications. A variety of gears, wheels and other accessories allows for complete customisation of VEX IQ projects and mobile robots.

The Robot Brain takes high-end, powerful technology and simplifies it for educational use while keeping a high ceiling. Connect any combination of up to 12 Smart Port devices to the Robot Brain, which can then be controlled by built-in programs or programmed via a computer and compatible software program. In addition to using pre-programmed instructions, VEX IQ robots can be controlled by drivers using the Controller.

VEX IQ sensors, including a color sensor, gyroscope, potentiometer, allow for advanced robots and teaching opportunities.

 

Here are the pictures i have taken during unboxing:

The complete box with nice sticker on it!

The opened box, showing manual and separator.


Still boxed motors, sensor and some parts in sorting tray.


One unboxed motor

An unboxed distance sensor (ultrasonic).


A touch-sensor/bumper.


A Touch-LED, a touch sensor able to show 16mio diff. colors.


Electronic parts come with a small manual.


All this stuff hides under the sorting tray.


The battery pack for the robot brain.


A color sensor.


Big set of cables in various length.


The battery charging station with battery on it.


Wheels…


Gyro sensor


The robot brain


Connectors


…and a lot of other parts, gears, shafts, etc…


…and even more parts…

 

Interesting designs for Rescue Robots – Part 2

Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro from the Tohoku University  presents his ASC. ASC is an search camera for usage in emergency situations and stands for Active Scope Camera. In basic it is a flexible endoscope which is able to move by it self. With the help of vibrating inclined cilia this endoscope can like a caterpillar crawl into smallest voids (>30 mm). Its maximum speed is 47 mm/s and the operating range is 8 m. This allows rescue workers to search in rubbles for victims or checking the structure of it.

The following video shows Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro at the Tokyo International Fire and Safety Exhibition 2008 presenting the ASC.

During the Collapse of the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne (March 2009),  Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro, Professor Dr. Robin R. Murphy (Texas A&M University), Clint Arnett (Project Coordinator for Urban Search and Rescue in TEEX), members of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) were trying to support the local fire department. Therefore I was able to test the ASC which was in use during this disaster.

The ASC performs extremely well. It can crawl in a reasonable speed into the rubble and is (after a little training) easy to use. But the biggest problem is the user interface. The ASC camera system does not compensated tilting or turning if the „robot“ does flip/turn over, which happens quite often. Hence, it is hard for the Operator to keep track of the orientation. In addition the opening angle of the camera is extreme small, which does even more handicap the situational awareness.

Sensors for Lego Mindstorms RCX

Need RCX Sensors?

Take a look at http://www.techno-stuff.com/RCX.htm