I don’t use FaceTime all that often, which is why this neat little Arduino-based hack is so cool: It basically guarantees someone will call me using Apple’s video chat service. Plus, that someone will also be a dog called Chewie.
Anyone can get a call from Chewie, so long as they have an iPhone capable of FaceTime calls, and are connected to a Wi-Fi network. Just visit treatchewie.com, enter your name and phone number, and you’ll be added to Chewie’s calling queue. When it’s your turn, you’ll receive a text message ten minutes beforehand to prepare you, and then a FaceTime call from the dog herself. Here’s a video of how it works:
The call is actually triggered at the same time as a modified dog treat-dispensing gumball machine, both of which are attached to a Mac mini doubling as a server for the website. Through a combination of Arduino, AppleScript and Python, the system dispenses treats, calling Chewie to the camera, and then calls numbers collected from the website.
I know what you’re thinking: This is a recipe for canine diabetes. But luckily, the maximum number of treats Chewie can receive is one per hour, and even then only between Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.
The creators behind Treat Chewie, former TAB contributor Jenny Kortina and Python coder Shreyans Bhansali, plan to make detailed instructions about making your own machine available sometime soon. For now, though, Chewie has a tasty monopoly on receiving web-based treats and talking to humans on iPhones.