Elise D.

Robot mind control and other great NAO hacking: NAO Interfaces 2015

Few weeks ago, we did an interview with Mike McFarlane who introduced us the NAO Interfaces Hackathon. This third hackathon, organized by UKNAO, the UK developers group for NAO, took place at Queen Mary University London from 11-12 April.


NAO Interfaces UKNAO


As mentioned by Mike, the idea of it was “to bring in developers and geeks from other technology areas outside the robotics field in order to cross-pollinate ideas”.
So during this week-end, more than 50 people gathered to connect new devices to NAO and find new ways of interacting with him. They were welcomed by Dave Snowdon, organizer and member of UKNAO, and Kok Ho Huen, teacher at QMUL School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.
Carl Clement, one of the organizer and also member of UKNAO, introduced the available devices and hardwares for the hackathon, notably:


  • Activ8rlives Pulse Oximeter Bluetooth 4.0, used to monitor pulmonary and cardiovascular functions

  • The Myo Armband by Thalmic labs which tracks arm movements and hand gestures and can also streams EEG data and connects via Bluetooth.

  • Emotiv EPOC Brain-computer interfaces. Based on EEG technology, this headset can monitor certain brain activity.

  • LightwaveRF, a wireless home automation technology that controls home heating, lighting and power.

As some of the attendees were not familiar with NAO, introductions to the little bot development, and hardware hacking with him, were provided. Meanwhile, teams formed and started developing ideas they had in mind. Until Sunday midday, everyone worked on their project that was going to be revealed and scored at the end of the afternoon.


Angelica and Celine, from Aldebaran, teamed up with Matthias Danzer, a German NAO developer, to control NAO with their mind through the Emotiv headset.

To demonstrate their project, they organized a race with two NAOs, connecting them to Angelica’s and Mike’s brain through Emotiv devices. The calmer a competitor's brain activity was, the faster their robot walked.

Of course, it's not always easy to stay calm when your robot is falling behind! In the end, Mike won the race!” said Angelica and Celine.

Other great projects were realized by the hackathon teams. Some participants used the Activ8rlives Pulse Oximeter to analyze blood pressure data and give advices via the robots, either calming down the person or advising someone next to him/her. A team also programmed it to monitor breathing blockages during the sleep and send the data to NAO so he could wake up the person. The MYO wristband was programmed by and English team to make the robot help you row. And another team connected NAO to LightwaveRF temperature sensors. And like Aldebaran’s girl added “Overall, the possibilities were endless, especially for health care or special education.


At the end of the day, the organizers designated two winner teams for the hackathon who came back home with a Emotiv headset.


Every participants seemed very happy about the event, particularly Angelica and Celine. So a big ‘bravo’ and thank you to the UKNAO users group for organizing such a creative and successful event. You can find more pictures of the event on their Flickr. A big thank you also to Ghene Snowdon who took all these great pictures.

Back to top