Mind controlling the Sphero BB-8 droid using IBM Cloud

IBM Engineer Joshua Carr with a Sphero BB-8 Droid

This article demonstrates IBM Cloud and the Internet of Things at its best with a programmer sending commands to a Sphero BB-8 droid using his thoughts.

First, grab 3 minutes to watch this awesome video

So how is this achieved?

As “Jedi mind trick” as it looks, the real power lies within Emotiv’s Insight headset translating thoughts into programmatic commands, and a medium like IBM’s Cloud to transfer commands to the Sphero droid.

Emotiv Insight Headset

The Insight headset originated as a Kickstarter project that became a reality. It’s a headset that records your brainwaves and translates them into meaningful data. Thanks to Emotiv’s SDK, you can convert this translated data into program commands.

How does IBM Cloud fit in?

Thanks to the Internet of Things Foundation Starter project on IBM Cloud, within a few minutes you can have a deployed runtime that acts as an integration communication layer between your hardware devices. This is exactly what Joshua achieved in the above video. An important component of this IBM Cloud runtime is Node-RED, a visual tool running on top of Node.js that wires together hardware devices.

This is an inspiring example of the Internet of Things in action and the power of a Cloud platform bringing everything together. The beauty of this experiment is that it doesn’t require a rocket science degree and can be quite easily achieved by most software developers, if led in the right direction.

The hard work has been performed by vendors like Emotiv. They create the SDKs for their hardware devices, which take on the heavy duty programming and logic. Developers then need only learn the APIs in order to interact with the hardware device. What’s left once this is achieved is configuring the means of integration between the hardware devices.


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