Our friend Geoff Barrows, who has been working with us on his great optical flow boards, just got covered by TechCrunch! UPDATE: They've disabled the cool video for embedding, but you can see it here

When we first wandered up to the suburban split-level that houses Centeye Inc., we were a bit confused. Could this be the place where a mad roboticist was building tiny robots with insect eyes and brains that could interact with their environment? We rang the doorbell and weren’t disappointed.

Founded by Geoffrey Barrows, Centeye is dedicated to computer vision. They make little electronic eyes that are cheap to reproduce and “see” only a few thousand pixels. He has a staff of two engineers who work with him on designing and building chips and has just released the open source Arudeye board, a tiny Arduino board with camera built-in.

Barrows does everything from his basement. Recent advances in fabrication allow him and his staff to design chips on a computer at home and then send the plans to manufacturers in Asia. They can then mass produce their eyes, driving down the cost per unit to a few dollars. They don’t need a big lab because everything is done remotely.

Their robots are actually proofs-of-concept but they’re really cool. The little helicopters use Centeye eyes to remain stationary in space and other models can avoid objects as they move. Because each eye takes in a small part of the scene, not much computing power is needed to process each bit of input. Like insects, the brain doesn’t have to work very hard to get a lot done.

Centeye has contracts with DARPA but is trying to commercialize their hardware with the Arduino offerings. It’s fascinating to see makers in their own habitat and even more exciting to see them make cool stuff in the oddest of places. Check out the video for more information and you can watch all of our TC Makers episodes here

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Comment by Dany Thivierge on August 19, 2012 at 8:11am

Oh snap... video not available in Canada... Can you do something? (dont feel like jumping through hoops with proxy and VPN...

thanks

Comment by Kur on August 19, 2012 at 8:35am

They have restricted video embedding for all. Works on TechCrunch website.

Video: http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/19/tc-makers-centeye-creates-insect-l...

Comment by Alex Arevalo on August 19, 2012 at 10:54am

The TechCrunch sight has a typo: it should be Ardueye, not Arudeye. At least the silk-screening on the board spells it Ardu and not Arud. I know, it's nit. I guess spellcheckers do not yet have Arduino in their dictionaries.

Comment by Carl La France on August 19, 2012 at 11:14am

Good Video It was cool how the machine moved out of the way when he put his hand in front of it could have anti crash properties!

Comment by Harry on August 19, 2012 at 1:32pm

I thought it was noteworthy that it's analog.  I did a search on NN and found something where they also mention that bio inspired computing relies mostly on analog.  I'd like to know more. 

Comment by Jack Crossfire on August 19, 2012 at 1:48pm

I should google the names in my inbox more often.  The trick is it's not turning or changing position on its own.  You can get a stationary hover out of sonar, too.  A preprogrammed set of expected scenes for each location & each heading would be required.

Comment by Alex Arevalo on August 19, 2012 at 3:17pm

I wonder if it could navigate the parking garage like the MIT fixed-wing craft did?

Comment by Carl La France on August 19, 2012 at 4:05pm

Alex this thing is totally cool The Mit fixed wing flew a pre programmed pattern it would have flown the same pattern

had it been in a foot ball field The "Eye has to change a focus on an objict or it might be a form of sonar like Jack Crossfire mentioned what I thought made this unique the guy moved his hands up and it moved out of the way on it's own (unlesss there was some one out of view controlling it?

Comment by Alex Arevalo on August 19, 2012 at 4:54pm

@Carl: I would imagine that it might be easier to do with a 'copter since it doesn't move so fast and therefore doesn't have to make such quick decisions.

Comment by Carl La France on August 19, 2012 at 6:19pm

You are right Alex  this thing could probably negotiate the parking garage  easier than a fixed wing .Unless it could hoover a fixed wing would have to maintain a certain air speed or it would fall to the ground

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