A team at Georgia Tech
has modified an iRobot chassis
(y'know, like those Roomba
vacuum cleaner thingies) to transform it into a printer that dispenses talcum powder onto your lovely clean floor. Why? Because they can.
Created as part of the team's final project for their embedded systems design
class, the printer is a Heath Robinson amalgamation of dot-matrix printer, drill, and dumpy robot-on-wheels.
The idea is pretty simple: the dot-matrix carriage moves a funnel left and right while the robot chassis drags the whole lot backwards. When the printer wants to deposit 'ink' (well, talcum powder) it rotates a drill bit which pushes the powder out through the funnel.
While the printer is currently only capable of a single colour – that of whatever powder you put into the funnel – and the printing is by its very nature temporary, it's still a pretty funky gadget to have.
The only downside is the requirement to have two Roombas to modify: one to turn into a talc printer, and the other to clean up again afterwards.
With some modification I could imagine this little device becoming a way of easily painting road markings. Alternatively, fill the hopper with weed killer and give your neighbour a nice personalised message scorched into his lawn.
You can read more about the machine at the project homepage
, and there's even a movie available
Can you think of any practical uses for this device? I'm struggling to think of anything beyond the practical joke
market here. See what you can come up with in the forums