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Toy Robots Can Guard Your Home

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the outside-is-for-suckers dept.

Robotics 151

Orome1 writes "Worried about burglars ransacking your house? Buy yourself some toy robots! It is what Robert Oschler, a Florida-based programmer, did. He bought a Rovio — a Wi-Fi enabled mobile webcam robot that can be picked up from toy sections of many stores — and modified it to suit his needs. The robot already has a camera, a microphone and speakers, but the improvements he made to the software allowed him to enhance the audio and video quality of this existing equipment, and to create specific routines for the robots. This way, every time he feels the need to check what's going on in the house, he simply goes online with his laptop and directs the robot through the house."

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Beowulf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178050)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster army of these things.

Re:Beowulf (0, Redundant)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178124)

I'm putting a GUN on mine!

I hope the kids don't come home early, oe wake up to pee.

Re:Beowulf (3, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178566)

Considering this is slashdot, I automatically read that as "I'm putting a GNU on mine!" and started wondering where the punchline was...

Re:Beowulf (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179140)

Considering this is slashdot, I automatically read that as "I'm putting a GNU on mine!" and started wondering where the punchline was...

Do you have any idea how big a gnu is?

Re:Beowulf (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178252)

Oooh I got FP!

Re:Beowulf (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178380)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster army of these things.

I think the term in this case becomes a swarm [wikipedia.org] .

A Beowulf gives you a bunch of compute power, a swarm gives you a bunch of little things working semi-autonomously working for a collective goal.

Re:Beowulf (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178526)

Gene Simmons is going to luv this!

Tom Selleck, not so much...

Re:Beowulf (2, Informative)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179182)

Heh. For those of you that don't know, he is referencing "Runaway," a terrible sci-fi movie starring Kirstie Alley, Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons. One of Michael Crichton's worst stories...the idea is that in the future, people use robots for everything. But the robots constantly screw up, in horrible and unintentionally hilarious ways. Like the robot that cooks your spaghetti has a gun built into it for some reason, and somehow its programming gets confused and it shoots you dead.

Also, they have 'robot drivers' for cars, but instead of being just a computer built into the car, they use mechanical mannequins that actually manipulate the steering wheel, gas, brakes, etc. MST3k-quality dreck.

Re:Beowulf (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178694)

Asimov wrote a short story about debugging robot swarms way back before robots even existed. It was a swarm of mining robots, but whenever an emergency came up they would so marching dances.

The punch line was, the server robot was twiddling its thumbs.

I can't remember the name if the story, sorry.

Re:Beowulf (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178854)

Asimov wrote a short story about debugging robot swarms way back before robots even existed

I continue to be amazed at the prescience of Asimov.

Sheer freakin' genius!!

Re:Beowulf (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178978)

Catch that Rabbit [citizendia.org]

Uh, okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178068)

This way, every time he feels the need to check what's going on in the house, he simply goes online with his laptop and directs the robot through the house.

This way, he can witness the carnage of open drawers, their contents scattered about wildly, upended furniture, and a missing HDTV from the comfort of his office.

Suggest article title be changed to 'Toy Robots Can Provide Security Theatre For Your Home'.

Re:Uh, okay. (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178796)

I don't have an HDTV in my house and the contents of the drawers are scattered about wildly already, you insensitive clod!

Re:Uh, okay. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179472)

Or the thieves might think the robot is valuable and steal that too...

More useful... (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178080)

Is simply multiple cameras.

If I was Burgling you, and I heard a noise from downstairs starting to head up, I might sneak into the nearest closet - wait for that thing to pass, then bolt out the door.

Whereas if you simply had a realtime view from many angles - there's no real chance I'd be able to dodge you seeing me - and possibly identifying me.

Re:More useful... (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178100)

If only an article would stop accepting posts when the correct answer was posted...

Re:More useful... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178622)

Kinda like how your brain works huh, You stop asking questions when you see an answer that "looks" right?

Re:More useful... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179032)

Yes. Same as everyone's.

Except that mine is a lot better at knowing what "looks" right than most people's, and has a lot of experience reading between the lines, looking behind the curtain, cutting through the haze, and seeing the forest for the trees.

Re:More useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178134)

Even more useful would be laser beams mounted on said robot.

Re:More useful... (3, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178236)

Why not just mount the whole dam shark on it?

Much scarier chasing burglers around the house with sharks than lasers.

Re:More useful... (5, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178458)

Because then you'd be up all night wondering when you're going to hear [Knock! Knock!] "Candygram!" on the bedroom door, knowing it'll be the last thing you ever hear other than your own screaming.

Land sharks can never be trusted.

Re:More useful... (1)

alphax45 (675119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178736)

My kingdom for some mod points right now to mod this funny!

Re:More useful... (2)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178170)

Multiple cameras can't cover the same area, and are likely more expensive. Thieves will surely be more mindful of cameras as well, and dodge their view area.

At any rate, these robots sound awesome!

Re:More useful... (2, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178242)

At any rate, these robots sound awesome!

I've looked at them, they're not that great sadly. The webcam quality is horrible, battery life is poor and the camera's vertical aim can't be adjusted.

I might pick one up for fun if the price drops low enough.

Re:More useful... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178758)

Only if they're smart, and paying attention.

The homeowner in this article [googleusercontent.com] is a friend of mine (Google Cache link on account of the original being broken), and they didn't do much by way of trying to avoid his cameras.

Of course, him being armed and present did a lot more than cameras alone would have, too.

Re:More useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178768)

Thieves will surely be more mindful of cameras as well, and dodge their view area.

Exactly. They are a deterrent, which is always a better approach to unwanted circumstances.

Re:More useful... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179054)

According to the article, once the toy dog is tricked out it'll set you back a little under $1000. For that kind of money, you can put at least nine of these little suckers (or any one of a number of similar models) into your house:

http://www.amazon.com/Cisco-Linksys-Wireless-N-Internet-Monitoring-Camera/dp/B002OHDFOA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1289334401&sr=8-2 [amazon.com]

There are also models with higher resolution and/or automatic night vision, which of course comes at a price. But you can still afford two or three really, really good cameras for $1000.

With one robot, the crook's gonna hear it coming a mile away and one swift kick means no surveillance. When you check in a few minutes later, you'll probably just assume the batteries ran out. It's passive surveillance, meaning your chances of catching footage of someone in the act is slim to none.

A solid handful of well-concealed AC-connected cameras means you'll have redundant coverage throughout the house, with no batteries to worry about recharging. Battery backups are pretty easy if you're worried about a power outage (assuming your Internet connection is similarly backed up, but you'd need that for RoverCam too). Cover the windows, hallways, and doors. No one can get in the house at all without at least one camera catching motion.

Best of all, it's an active surveillance system - the cameras can be set to only capture and forward imagery if they see motion, so instead of checking at random on the off chance you were robbed or becoming overwhelmed with hundreds of hours of footage of a still room, the system can notify you and send the important imagery to an email address somewhere so you have a copy securely offsite. You can easily place cameras so they are hard to see and your would-be thief needs to walk through their field of vision to get to them (far corners of rooms are ideal).

Your local cops might be vaguely interested only in that it proves the person on the camera is not you, and they'll be more willing to sign the forms so your insurance company can reimburse you (technically it'll be a loan with interest because your insurance rates will go up).

About the only practical use would be if you feared coming home to a house with the criminal still in it, leading to a physical confrontation. You could scan the house on your smartphone from your car, I suppose. The problem is, if you fail to get a response back from one ROV, you might logically assume that the batteries went dead. Compare that to one of the independent cameras in the active system having already told you hours ago that they detected motion (and you have a secure copy of the imagery).

The criminal might be able to deactivate them, but it'd be almost impossible for them to take out all nine without at least one of them sensing motion and notifying you before it went dark.

If you're totally paranoid about someone being in your house, you could also have a pretty simple machine running BigBrother and notifying you every hour that "all is well" if all your cameras are pingable, or notifying you immediately when a camera goes offline. That way, if the thief goes around disabling cameras and manages to do so without triggering the camera through motion, at least you'll get multiple warnings that "Camera A is out", "Camera B is out", and you'll pretty much know that someone is walking around the house breaking cameras.

But, agreed, an ROV-mounted camera is cool concept. I'd still love to have one, but solely for the geek factor, not for surveillance.

Re:More useful... (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178214)

Which does what exactly?
The police are not going to be interested, I say this as someone who has seen folks go through that situation. The police will showup, offer to give you a copy of their report for your insurance company and not even bother to view the footage much less use it in anyway.

Re:More useful... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178376)

It means when you see that punk around the neighbourhood you beat his ass?

I agree that survelience isn't true security - but if thats what you're going for - than all I'm saying is more Cameras are better than a mobile 1.

Re:More useful... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179288)

The most important thing in a home security system, to me, is notification that my house has been entered. Forget protecting my stuff. I'm not Chuck Norris, and my shit can be replaced. I don't own anything worth dying for. Not a single thing. The important data on my computer is encrypted and backed up offsite, the papers I care about are in a well-concealed safe, and I can buy replacements for anything else that's important.

I primarily lock my doors so the insurance company can't gripe about my lack of precautions if they see signs of forced entry. The webcams are there to serve the same purpose - if I got robbed, I could show time-indexed footage of someone who is not me driving down my driveway, breaking into the door, and taking things. If I can catch useful imagery of the thief, that's a bonus, for sure. But as far as the insurance company is concerned, I only need to show that it wasn't me stealing from my own house.

But the number one most important part is knowing that I want to be very careful when re-entering my house because the thief could still be there. And for that I want an active system like a motion detector or a few $100 motion-sensing webcams, not a passive system that requires action on my part.

This ROV camera is really cool. But it's not a security item, it's a really cool geek toy.

Re:More useful... (3, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178226)

Yeah, but if you want to mount a machine gun to all your cameras, you'll have to buy multiple guns. With just one robot that patrols, you save a load on weaponry. Oh... who am I kidding. Once you get one robot with weaponry, it just becomes an addiction to buy more.

Re:More useful... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178450)

You assume burglars are smart. You know what they say about assuming...

Re:More useful... (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178612)

It's a poor sort of security that assumes that the person you're up against isn't very bright. And/or creative and/or desperate and/or psychotic.

.

Re:More useful... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178830)

Are you saying that I'm smart?

I never once mentioned Burglars and Intelligence, I merely said what I would do if I were burgling.

Re:More useful... (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179436)

..yes! It make an ass out of u and some guy named ming.

Re:More useful... (4, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178490)

If I had the balls to break into somebody's home, I'd probably just take the robot to spite them.

Re:More useful... (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179842)

If I had the balls to break into somebody's home, I'd probably just take the robot to spite them.

Yeah, especially if the thief thinks that the robot is storing the video footage locally. I didn't RTFA but I imagine it streams the video to a server wirelessly (i.e. not inside of the robot), but that doesn't mean the thief knows that. But I guess if the video _is_ stored externally, then at least you would a pretty good shot of the thief (even if you do lose the robot).

Re:More useful... (3, Insightful)

Triv (181010) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178568)

"Whereas if you simply had a realtime view from many angles - there's no real chance I'd be able to dodge you seeing me - and possibly identifying me."

Why do people always believe that their home is always somehow a target for burglars? You don't have to secure your possessions with cameras and robots and laser tripwires, you just need to make the house across the street look like less of a hassle to get into.

The easiest way to not get burgled it to make your house look, from the street, to not be worth a burglar's time. The cheapest way to do this is to buy a dog house and put it in your front yard. The second cheapest way to do this is to buy a dog house, put it in your front yard, and put a dog in it.

Or here's something my Grandfather taught me: leave a different light on in a different room every night. I defy you to find a security system cheaper than the 10 dollars a year the electricity will cost you.

Moral of the story: you're not that special, and if you get burgled, you spun a d20 and rolled low. There are other things more worthy of being thought about than that.

Re:More useful... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178658)

Why do people always believe that their home is always somehow a target for burglars?

Well, once you've got a troop of seeing-eye robot sentries constantly patrolling the house, I think you have made your house a pretty good target. Adding lasers and tripwires, doubly. So I think those things are justified... if you've installed them.

Re:More useful... (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178852)

Yeah, but then you need to get the full time monitoring lackeys, and install the shark pools. It's just too much hassle.

Re:More useful... (1)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179148)

So the whole dog argument is a little confusing to me. I heard somewhere that having a dog is the best deterrent (hardly the cheapest though) against a burglar, and I also heard that most professional burglars will agree. I have two counter points, however:

Point one: Do people really train their guard dogs to attack strangers? Who wants a friend to visit, only to be bitten by the dog? And why should a thief be afraid of a housebroken dog? If it's the middle of the day and everyone's at work, the dogs will definitely bark at a stranger, but all it takes is a couple treats and a toy to win their friendship. It Takes a Thief confirmed this, say what you will about the Discovery Channel.

Point two: My least favorite sound when I knock on a door to a friend's house it the loud barking of dogs. I find it uninviting and normally if they bark at the doorbell, they will jump on the visitor and probably tear his clothes with their claws. Do you want to live your life answering the door with "sorry about the dogs; they're friendly, don't worry!" You might train them *not* to bark at the doorbell and jump on visitors, but then what good is a guard dog that doesn't bark?

Re:More useful... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179532)

Do people really train their guard dogs to attack strangers?

No. But, in general, dogs don't need to be trained to bark at people they don't know, and dogs are unwanted noise. Your average thief is just looking for a nice, quiet house they can get into without anyone noticing and spend some quality time picking out the choicest bits. If you have a dog barking his head off in the front yard, it increases the chances that someone is going to pay attention (yes, there's a 90% chance the dog will be ignored and you'll go unnoticed, but that's a 10% better chance of being notified than the neighbors across the street who don't have a dog).

My least favorite sound when I knock on a door to a friend's house it the loud barking of dogs.

All things come at a cost. If a dog barks when someone other than Master or Mistress (or someone that Master or Mistress is obviously comfortable with) is around, then they are doing their job. The same discomfort you feel is what will keep the thief away. You can also, as you say, train them not to bark at the doorbell (good luck with that!) or have their vocal cords snipped so they aren't so loud.

what good is a guard dog that doesn't bark?

Some, but not as much as a guard dog that does. The presence of a dog means an extra layer of hassle a thief has to deal with. Thieves don't generally want hassle. If it's a choice between your house with vague signs a dog lives there, and your neighbor's house with no signs of a dog at all, you're relatively safe - all other things being equal the thief will go for the neighbors. If if's a choice between your house with vague signs a dog lives there and your neighbor's house with a loud dog out in the yard, then you're the better-looking target if all other factors are equal.

Honestly, you don't need a dog if none of your neighbors have one. All you need is a doghouse, a leash tied somewhere on the front porch, and maybe a few scratches on the front door. Make your house look a little more dog-infested than your neighbors, and you decrease your desirability as a target.

But there are other factors, of course. Are your entrances and windows free of obstructions and visible to your neighbors, or protected by naturally defensive foliage? A thief doesn't mind jimmying a window under the concealment of a dark corner with a line of bushes, but he'll hesitate if that bush is a hawthorne or rosebush with long thorns and is right up against the house. You might think that having a private mud room with the outer door unlocked is a great idea when it's rainy, but it gives your would-be thief a quiet protected place to work on your main door locks.

Sometimes, a "PROTECTED BY SECURITY SYSTEM" sign as every bit as effective as a full-on security system. And nothing beats having a person home most of the time.

Re:More useful... (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179888)

I had some of the same thoughts, my reasoning came down to 2 things. 1) Dogs are un-predictable (in a unique situation.) 2) Even a thief has a conscious and doesn't want to hurt a Dog if it does react.

Re:More useful... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179438)

Besides charlie Brown, who the hell puts a dog house n their front lawn? and who wouldn't notice the lack of use?

You are correct, just don't make it worth the hassle. Of course, that assumes the burglar is thinking beyond that moment. Many crimes committed to fullfil and addiction aren't really thought out.

Most wierd and 'stupid' bank robberies are spur of the moment addiction induced decisions.

If you think about it for 30 seconds, people would realize why sticking up a bank in the US is stupid.

Re:More useful... (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179720)

Absolutely agreed. In many cases, the amont of deterrent, for many people, seems to be based on the value they wish others to place on objects rather than the value of the objects. In other cases, people go out of their way to exceed the norms of neighborhood, in which case what do the expect?

There was another recent article about the use of cameras to monitor personal property. I know people who do this. They have often have a overexcite sense of personal property. It is not only that they do not want people walking on their property, but get upset if they walk too near the property, or can be heard from the street. In some cases the damage are legitimate and there is a reason to go after the culprit. But I figure when one's entire existence is centered around explicitly security, one letting other people control one's life, and one no longer has any real self determination.

So, to me , the question is whether the big screen TV, the SUV, the valuable jewelry, is worth the opportunity cost to secure it. If life, on net, would be better without such outlandish objects. Or if the possessions are an excuse to have cameras everyone where so can have a value not necessarily voluntarily bestowed in normal day to day life.

Re:More useful... (1)

Max_W (812974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178972)

Actually, Rovio is surprisingly fast.

Re:More useful... (2, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179350)

"More useful... Is simply multiple cameras."

And I'm sure you'd have better luck with multiple cameras: Of the 89 reviews, 35 gave it 1 out of 5 stars. [amazon.com] That's a very poor score, who would buy something where nearly half the reviews are 1 out of 5 stars?

And the complaints aren't just "I can't set it up". Many of the complaints are Battery only has a 10 minute charge, no customer service, [amazon.com] Broke after 2 months, no customer service. [amazon.com]

One customer even managed to fix his using internet instructions after WowWee said it was broken forever: [amazon.com] " I followed the recovery steps outlined in the link, and ended up with a functioning Rovio. This was after several emails with WowWee where they ended up saying "sorry, there is no way to recover from this problem". Basically "too bad"; no warranty because I had owned it for more than 180 days.

Obviously the biggest problem isn't setup or software, it's poor relibility added with poor customer service.

Realistically, though... (1)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179664)

How useful are cameras, either? So you happen to catch a guy on film robbing your house. Even if you happen to be watching while it happens, the guy is going to be long gone before the cops get there, and what good is the video really going to do you? It's fine for evidence... IF the cops ever catch the guy who did it, which is highly unlikely. But I don't see how it deters a break-in in the first place.

It seems to me you'd be a lot better off to invest in more secure locks, alarm systems (more for scaring off the burglar than anything else), and similar stuff.

A New Use For Them (2, Interesting)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178112)

What we need are some cannibalistic robots that'll go around the house feeding on old PCs and other consumer electronics. It should cut the cost, help them grow (and reproduce?) and save us the hassles of other recycling methods.

Re:A New Use For Them (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179338)

...or maybe stop buying so much consumer electronic goods and you wouldn't be a burglar's target :)

You Lose: ( +1 , Fun ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178140)

I win [youtube.com] .

Next: I am going to steal your car with my robot.

Yours In Osh,
K. Trout

"Enhance the audio and video quality" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178160)

Enhance 224 to 176.
Enhance, stop.
Move in, stop.
Pull out, track right, stop.
Center in, pull back. Stop.
Track 45 right. Stop.
Center and stop.
Enhance 34 to 36.
Pan right and pull back.
Stop. Enhance 34 to 46.
Pull back.
Wait a minute, go right, stop.
Enhance 57 to 19.
Track 45 left. Stop.
Enhance 15 to 23.
Give me a hard copy right there.

Re:"Enhance the audio and video quality" (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178436)

I was thinking about something more like :

"Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Good evening J. F."

Re:"Enhance the audio and video quality" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178684)

I'm conflicted between RoboCop or The Tick.

Re:"Enhance the audio and video quality" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179060)

It's Madison Time, hit it!
You're lookin' good, a big strong line -

Enhance 224 to 176.
Enhance, stop.
Move in, stop.
Pull out, track right, stop.
Center in, pull back. Stop.
Track 45 right. Stop.
Center and stop.
Enhance 34 to 36.
Pan right and pull back.
Stop. Enhance 34 to 46.
Pull back.
Wait a minute, go right, stop.
Enhance 57 to 19.
Track 45 left. Stop.
Enhance 15 to 23.
Give me a hard copy right there.

ftfy.

Say... (2, Funny)

The Damned Yankee (829738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178196)

This is how Davros got his start, isn't it? First it's just one or two remote units for home security, then the next thing you know they're heavily armed and armored killing machines intoning "EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" at the neighbors.

Re:Say... (4, Funny)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178408)

"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand." - Mark Twain

My money is on the heavily armed and armored killing machines.

But do they do networking? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178270)

After getting a few of these to guard my home, I just need to purchase and upgrade a few more of these robots to do my job, and then I can live the life I really want to live!

Microphone (1)

Xarin (320264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178292)

I would think that the microphone would run afoul of wiretapping and eavesdropping laws.

Re:Microphone (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178382)

It's in your own house. You can't eavesdrop on your own property (excluding creepy landlords who put cameras in the showers of single women [or men] who are renting from them).

Besides, what's the burglar's defense going to be? "Yeah, I broke into the guys home. So what! That doesn't give him the right to record what I took!"

Re:Microphone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178562)

Besides, what's the burglar's defense going to be? "Yeah, I broke into the guys home. So what! That doesn't give him the right to record what I took!"

Considering that in some places a burglar can sue the homeowner for getting hurt during a break-in, and win, this is nowhere near as far-fetched as it should be.

If you live in one of these states, remember the 3 S's when dealing with a burglar: "shoot, shovel, and shut up".

Re:Microphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179040)

This is the result of no-fault insurance. If you don't have homeowner's coverage, you don't have to worry about getting sued by injured burglars as their attorneys will not see the case as worthy of their effort.

----
Remember, you learned this from AC!

Re:Microphone (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178514)

Some states only require one party to be aware that the conversation is being recorded.

A simple sticker at the entrances to the house might fix anything else, this house monitored etc, audio and video will be provided to law enforcement.

The real question I have is how well the webcams do in low light, and or could you combine this with X10 controls to switch on the lights?

Re:Microphone (2, Interesting)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179016)

Webcams do great with infrared light... You can't tell that the lights are on, but you show up perfectly on the webcam. This is the secret to all camera night vision technologies. We discovered it decades ago when we realized that my friends' video camera could see the blinking light when he clicks on the TV remote control.

iPhone Support (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178304)

...if only...

Re:iPhone Support (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178388)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ejh--_56ic&feature=player_embedded [youtube.com] THis looks cool. If i where a burglar i wouldn't definetly be scared to met by a hacksaw.

Re:iPhone Support (2, Informative)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178638)

Yea...the Parrot is a whole lot less impressive in person though.

Problems are:

1. It is very difficult to fly through the camera - when you're not actually looking at it.

2. You need to be near it - Meaning the Parrot becomes a WiFi access point that your phone has to connect to. i.e. You cant fly it over the open 'net.

3. There is no type of "docking" - or "auto docking" - so you need to be there to physically turn it off, plug it back into the charger, etc.

The Parrot would be cool if it was more like the Rovio - and visa-versa!

Re:iPhone Support (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179514)

It's also effing loud. Some Apple-loving hipster brought one into the office, it sounded like a weed wacker.

Useless (1)

zounds011 (1935706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178324)

He'll have to check the camera footage every couple of minutes for this to be of any use (i.e. to catch an intruder in the act). Guarding his house has just become a full-time job. Also, the robot would have to be pretty quiet to allow it to sneak up on an intruder. And how good are the camera images going to be in the dark?

Re:Useless (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178586)

This could help on the full-time job part: http://vitamindinc.com/

Summary better than Article (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178338)

In an odd turnabout, the summary is better written than the linked article, which reads like someone writing in English as a second language.

This set up may not be reliable enough for guarding, let's say, a bank, but for the home is well enough. And Oschler is no the only one who experimented with this type of home security.

This is just Ridiculous (2, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178342)

Everyone knows that the best way to scare off buglers is to call out into the darkness, in your most shaky and unnaturally high pitched tone, "I have a gun! ... I've already called the police!".

This, followed shortly by turning on all the lights and tip-toeing around in your boxers wielding a golf club is more than enough security for anyone!

Re:This is just Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178512)

You joke, but having known a few burglars, I can tell you that your description certainly WOULD scare most of them. Burglars and murders are not the same lot. Burglars want to get in, take your stuff and get out with as little risk as possible. Most actively make a point not to have anything that might even be construed as a weapon. The jail time for burglar is dramatically less than the jail time for ARMED burglary. You are also WAY more likely end up dead when you inevitably get caught.

You also REALLY don't want to face an armed homeowner who is freaked out enough that they are speaking in a shaky unnaturally high pitched tone. That is how you get shot even while fleeing.

Re:This is just Ridiculous (1)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178624)

Did you know those burglars back in 1950 or what? Things have changed since then... [yahoo.com]

Re:This is just Ridiculous (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178726)

The reason that is in the news is because it's not the norm. Fucked up people have been around forever.

Re:This is just Ridiculous (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178710)

Everyone knows that the best way to scare off buglers

Why scare them off? I say join in with some drums.

If you need to log in and watch... (2, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178422)

then these machines aren't guarding your home. Get an alarm system.

That said, I owned a Rovio for a few weeks last year. I bought it as an xmas present to myself and found it lacking. I thought it would be cute to watch the dog from work but the CMOS webcam on it just required too much light to be usable. Even under well-lit conditions the compressed video was of marginal quality. I also wanted to use voice chat feature, which is IE only btw, but that didn't work out well either. The audio was either horrible or badly delayed. Not was there a "listen" button. It simply decided to broadcast audio when it decided to (whenever sound hit a threshold). It also had a low battery life and failed to dock often. Luckily, Amazon accepted my return and I got my money back.

Its a neat device and cheap for a telepresence robot, but not that great. I'd love to see a v2 of this, especially if it was easily hackable.

Re:If you need to log in and watch... (1)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178980)

The reviews on Amazon are pretty damning. Sounds like your experience was one of the more positive ones.

EAT LEAD, SUCKER! *bangbangbangbang!* (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178428)

At least, that's what the toy robot did in A Fistful of Yen [imdb.com] .

Re:EAT LEAD, SUCKER! *bangbangbangbang!* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179046)

TOY ROBOT! was the first thing I thought of when I saw this

Build a couple of friends... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178456)

Get them to say this;
"Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Good evening J. F."

All it can do is watch? (4, Funny)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178460)

Bart: Milhouse. You were supposed to be the night watchman.

Milhouse: I was watching. I saw the whole thing. First it started falling over, then it fell over.

Re:All it can do is watch? (1)

VatuLevu (1923418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178542)

That's what I was thinking, i mean short of having the camera that catches you in the act it's not all that impressive

Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178498)

Get the humanoid! Destroy the Intruder!

OCD over IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178572)

is now a reality.

s/guard/watch/ (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178618)

There, fixed that for you.

Pervert alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178664)

Oschler himself offers his own improved software for the Rovio and other robots on his website, and he offers it for free.

Yeah of course it's free. He added hooks so that he can access any robot equipped with his software to spy in other people's homes!

Thats nice... but mine's better. (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178728)

Cute, but I still think my home security system [wikipedia.org] is better. Unlike a robot with a camera, mine will actually scare a burglar away.

Plus, she's warm and cuddly in the winter and is almost trained to fetch a beer for me. If only beer came in plastic bottles (she doesn't like the glass, and aluminum is too thin), i'd be set! :)

I did this six months ago, except autonomous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178872)

http://www.robots-everywhere.com/ these are Android based, have a range of anywhere you get a cell phone signal, and cost $500. Why won't anyone take them seriously? I sold only half a dozen so far...

Re:I did this six months ago, except autonomous (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179216)

Because nobody wants robots which require one cellphone contract per robot?

boring implementation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178874)

So the article is about some guy buying a Robot sold to home consumers and designed to be reprogrammed.
Then he brought it home and reprogrammed it as intended.
Then he set up a website to show how he used the product as intended.

SO: why is there a slashdot article about this? explain.

Why don't you link to the article where the guy put a night vision wifi camera on it and then snuck the thing into the neighbours house and had it waiting under the bed until the evening action began. Because that article might actually be worthy and unique (unlike this one)

My first thought... (1)

bodino (240393) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179050)

Oh no! A toy robot! Ruuunnnnn!!!

A classic from the Kentucky Fried Movie
http://jb5353.tripod.com/kfm/toy.wav [tripod.com]

Re:My first thought... (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179122)

They must be shaped like garden gnomes, and there should be loads of them.

Bonus: Have their eyes glow red when they move towards a target en-masse.

I want Rovio minus the computer (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179102)

What would really be ideal is a robot docking station. Most of us already have a device that takes WiFi, has a camera, microphone and runs software - it's our laptops. Why not just a robotic docking station with some software that lets me control it from anywhere? Just eliminating this once a year situation alone would be worth the cost: "Turn the car around! I think I left the curling iron plugged in!"

Re:I want Rovio minus the computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179144)

http://www.robots-everywhere.com/

Right here: it uses Android phones rather than laptops though.

Re:I want Rovio minus the computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179868)

yeah! That's what I'm talking about... This is great technology - thanks for that link! To take things a step further, you'd be able to remotely unlock/open your own door while you're watching. This would allow you to take a trip without putting the dog in the kennel. Now we're talking about technology that can enable you to do things you otherwise wouldn't be able to

What is a Man Trap? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179368)

Is this device a man trap if I mount a flash bulb device on it and it takes a "flash" picture?

Get a dog. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179450)

Dogs are self-reproducing, live longer than modern electronics, more effective, loyal, warm and cuddly. They also cost less.

This is not security (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179600)

This a great way to capture footage of somebody in a ski mask smashing your camera.
 
The only "security" this provides is the secure feeling of looking at your stuff so you can sigh with relief that you haven't been robbed yet.

One low tech easy way to break this (1)

bubblegoose (473320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179624)

That will work great, until someone cuts the phone and cable lines to your house and your modem goes dead.

When I used to work on security systems we would bring along a shovel for installs. We would bury the phone line and move the phone box inside to the basement. Made it inconvenient for the home owners if they needed changes to their service (they would have to be home to let the phone guy in), but gave them a heck of a lot more security.

For my own place I put up a dummy box with some wires running into it. If they cut the wire it set off the alarm.

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