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Robots and Gadgets at Google IO 2011

There were a lot of robots and gadgets at Google IO 2011.

This machine was a very cool implementation of a 360 degrees view of Google Earth. The sensation of the view was fantastic, you could almost feel like flying in there.
Google Earth 360

I got to play a little with the Sony Xperia Play, and it was very nice. The screen size and buttons felt good and the phone has a good size and weight. Graphics are not exactly the best thing ever, but decent enough for a casual game. I’m not an expert gamer, so lets see how others review it now that its out in the market.

Sony Xperia Play

There was also exhibitions of the Google TV platform with some new demo products of companies developing interesting apps for it.
Google TV

Another cool thing was the giant labyrinth operated with a Motorola Xoom Android tablet using the Arduino Android Development Kit. I was not able to get one of the free Google Android Development Kits but the possibilities of what you can build with it are pretty exiting. That and the Android Open Accessory Platform, which will make it a lot easier for manufacturers and amateur developers to create great accessories compatible with any Android device.

ADK Labrynth

Robots were everywhere! And most were all connected in one way or another to an Android device.

Android Robot

The PR2 Robot is a robotic experiment platform. Its very expensive, but its equipped with a lot of tools (and an Xbox Kinect). On the talk they demonstrated how with the cloud robotic api and a few lines of python code you can manipulate and program this robot.

PR2 robot platform

This little robot was remotely operated and it had a Nexus S as its head.
Robot with a t-shirt

There were also automatic gardening implementation demonstrations.
robotic farm

These two wheel robots were roaming around everywhere. They look very cool and remind me of Rosie from the Jetsons. Only that Rosie had one wheel instead of two, and did lots more than just roam around. The interesting thing was that none of these robots bumped with the people at any time.


This is a hydraulic muscle robot, completely inflatable and could walk around and move.
hydraulic robot

This robot was improvising music playing the xylophone, or as I like to call it in Spanish: “marimba”. I hope to see someday a demo of this robot playing along with the mexican marimba players from the Veracruz state, where its a popular traditional instrument.
Marimba playing robot

This robot from the iRobot company (the guys who make the Roomba) was taking video testimonies about the event and asking attendees to answer polls. Now that’s a cool way to gather marketing material!

Video and poll robot

Soda serving robot

This is a modified roomba with an XBox Kinect and some more powerful processing that you can buy from iRobot as a home robotics platform to build interesting things. Such as a robot that can serve sodas in a party, or better yet, bring you beer.

The following video is of Sphearo, a robotic sphere that you can control like a remote control car using your Android device via Bluetooth. It seems like a very fun and probably pricey little toy.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a video compilation I made of the dancing android that spent the whole night dancing around at the after party, making everyone smile with its moves.

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter

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