Dave Smart Maker Faire UK Interview

We had a great time at Maker Faire UK in Newcastle this weekend. We thought we’d share an interview with Dave Smart, on DroidScript and the projects we had on show:

Can you tell us a little more about the projects that you were showing at MF – the steam punk TV and the face-tracking Lego robot?

Yes, we were demonstrating the control and interfacing capabilities of DroidScript at Maker Faire this year.  DroidScript can connect to electronic devices in various ways, including USB serial, Bluetooth serial, TCP and UDP.

Our spooky steam punk Victorian TV was made by Matthew Taylor from the Cambridge MakeSpace and was controlled by DroidScript using an ODROID-C1 which is a powerful Android based alternative to the Raspberry Pi. The head turning servo control and ‘steam squirting’ facility was triggered by an Espruino board which is a fantastic embedded micro controller similar to Arduino except that it runs JavaScript.

DroidScript can also interface to Lego Mindstorms NXT kits via Bluetooth and we were demonstrating this using our SmartWatch controlled Robot.  We believe this is actually the worlds first SmartWatch controlled robot and recently upgraded it to send a video stream from the robot to the Sony SmartWatch2 as well as adding automatic face tracking capability.  The face tracking proved to be very popular with our younger visitors as it gives the impression that the robot is actually alive as it’s head turns to follow people walking across the room.

The third thing we were demonstrating at Maker Faire was our home made games console.  This again made use of the versatile ODROID-C1 except this time we had an HD TV and XBox360 game pad connected to it.  The game running (called Angry Androids) was of course written entirely using DroidScript and served to demonstrate how makers could start creating their own high performance games using JavaScript on embedded platforms like the ODROID or mobile phones and tablets.

Why do you prefer to use the ODROIDS and program in Android?

We particularly like the ODROID-C1 here at droidscript.org because it offers a more powerful alternative to the latest Raspberry Pi at around the same price.  It also allows DroidScript coders to make use of their mobile development skills on a truly embedded platform and opens up a whole world of possibilities with robotics and automation.

You mentioned the Google V8 engine, why is this important?

Google’s introduction of the V8 engine is a real game changer, it allows JavaScript running in Chrome browsers and Android mobile devices to be compiled to machine code before execution.  This means is runs blisteringly fast, enabling a whole host functionality that was previously out of reach for JavaScript based applications.  You can now do amazing things involving image processing, 3D graphics and physics simulation that were simply impractical before the creation of V8.

Why is JavaScript good for wearable and mobile development?

Put simply, JavaScript is a powerful, platform agnostic and easy to learn. That’s what makes it great for mobile or any other type of development for that matter. JavaScript is now probably the most popular and well used programming language on the planet!  It’s used in the literally billions of web pages which are displayed in our browsers every day and also used by many companies to serve up those web pages in the form of node.js based server systems.

JavaScript is not limited to your browser any more having found its way onto servers, mobile devices and even micro controllers (like the Espruino). Here at droidscript.org we believe JavaScript is the best programming language to start learning with since it uses the ‘c’ like syntax that is used by so many languages in industry such as C, C++, C# and Java.  Not only is it a great stepping stone to those other languages, it has huge value in itself since anyone who learns it will be able to create their own interactive web sites and mobile applications too!

The combination of JavaScript, Google’s V8 engine and the powerful hardware found in modern smartphones gives DroidScript users an amazing opportunity to create ever more exciting and ground breaking projects with a simple and clean development environment.  I can’t wait to see what makers create when more of them discover the full capabilities of DroidScript !

SteamPunkEye SmartNxtRobotSmall AngryAndroids