Robot plays “Rock Band” on the iPhone [Video]

Mon, Nov 2, 2009


Behold! A new level in nerdity as someone configured a robot to play the iPhone version of “Rock Band”.  I guess this means you should be a tad suspicious when a buddy of yours claims to have gotten an all-time high score on the game.

The contraption, created by Joe Bowers, uses ambient light sensors to “detect the falling notes and then taps out the music with some conductive foam attached to some squeaky fake fingers.”

Bowers writes of his invention:

Rock Band has been released on the iPhone, and even though its a lot of fun, I would rather have something play it for me. Preferably a robot! The light sensor sends data to an Arduino, which is waiting for a spike in the data. The Arduino runs the sensor data through some averaging filters, and sets a threshold for on and off. The iPhone touch screen isn’t like most PDAs. It uses a capacitive touch screen. I had some conductive foam laying around, its usually used for shipping sensitive electronics. If I used something non conductive, like a plastic pen, the foam would do nothing to the screen. My solution to this was to put thin copper wires into the foam (I also used these wires to attach the foam to the servos)… Add all of the above together into a modified Pelican case, with a lot of hot glue (non glittery) and you have a robot that will gladly beat all your difficult songs, sit back and sip some fine tea.

Fair enough, but we’d be more interested if Bowers could create something similar to help alleviate the daily 9 to 5.  Still, much props to Bowers for bringing his dream of a RockBand playing robot to life, and if there are any Simpsons fans out there, it’s sort of reminiscent of the episode where Homer gets fat, starts working from home, and has one of those bobbing plastic toys do his data entry job.

Here’s quick snippet for your enjoyment:

 Homer: [reading screen] "To Start Press Any Key".  Where's the ANY key?
        I see Esk ["ESC"], Catarl ["CTRL"], and Pig-Up ["PGUP"].  There
        doesn't seem to be any ANY key.  Woo!  All this computer hacking
        is making me thirsty.  I think I'll order a TAB.  [presses TAB
        key] time for that now, the computer's starting.


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