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Summary:

This is cool: Gus Class has turned his old Roomba vacuum cleaner into Oscar, the first robot that can be remotely controlled through a Google+ Hangout. It’s a neat use of the Google+ Hangouts API, and opens the door for other interesting hacks.

oscar hangout tobot

Updated. Gus Claas’ Roomba almost got wrecked in an accident, but Claas gave it a second chance by turning it into a robot that can be remotely controlled via Google+ Hangouts. He extensively documented the inner workings of Oscar on his blog, where you can take a close look at the code that makes him tick – or you could just watch the video below to see the little guy in action:

Anyone wanting to hang out live with Oscar will have a chance this upcoming Friday at 10 a.m. as part of Google’s developer Hangouts. One should mention that Claas isn’t just a lone hacker with a love for Google+. He’s working for Google as a developer advocate for the Google+ platform, according to his Google+ profile. It’s unclear whether he developed Oscar in his spare time, or as part of Google’s 20 percent program that encourages random tinkering on the company’s clock.

Regardless, the hack does show off how much you can do with the Hangouts API, which the company released in September of 2011 to allow third-party developers to integrate their own apps into the video platform.

Most developers have so far used the API for far more conventional things, including the integration of poker games and SlideShare slides into Hangouts. The question is: What kind of hardware hacks would you like to see next in Hangouts? Robots that read your facial expression? Remote controls for your light switches? Feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments!

Update: Reader Johnathan Chung tells us that Oscar isn’t actually the first robot with a Hangouts connection: “Magabot made a telepresence robot controlled via Hangouts when they demoed it at the Electricity Museum in Portugal back on May 31st.” Maybe they could become friends…

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