Rovables: Miniature On-Body Robots as Mobile Wearables

Artem Dementyev1, Hsin-Liu (Cindy) Kao1, Inrak Choi2, Deborah Ajilo3, Maggie Xu2, Joseph A. Paradiso1, Chris Schmandt1, Sean Follmer2

  1. MIT Media Lab, 2. Stanford Mechanical Engineering, 3. MIT Mechanical Engineering

We introduce Rovables, a miniature robot that can move freely on unmodified clothing. The robots are held in place by magnetic wheels, and can climb vertically. The robots are untethered and have an onboard battery, microcontroller, and wireless communications. They also contain a low-power localization system that uses wheel encoders and IMU, allowing Rovables to perform limited autonomous navigation on the body. In the technical evaluations, we found that Rovables can operate continuously for 45 minutes and can carry up to 1.5N. We propose an interaction space for mobile on-body devices spanning sensing, actuation, and interfaces, and develop application scenarios in that space. Our applications include on-body sensing, modular displays, tactile feedback and interactive clothing and jewelry