Motorola shows off Java-powered wireless Lego robot

Users can make a robot walk and dance, simply by typing commands into a mobile phone
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Users will be able to operate a robot by using only a mobile phone, thanks to a new Java application developed by Motorola.

The US firm has teamed up with software programming company Flashline to make use of the functionality of the Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME). The new software, which is being demonstrated at the JavaOne Developer Conference in San Francisco, allows a Lego Mindstorms robot to be controlled from a Motorola i50sx Java-enabled phone.

Users can instruct the Lego robot to move, clap its hands or even dance. The Java application runs on the handset, which sends commands to the robot via the Internet.

Motorola see this move as proof of the potential of Java when running on a mobile phone. "Java technology is making a significant impact on the wireless revolution, through newly released J2ME-enabled devices," said Jonathan Knudsen, who developed the robot application. Knudsen believes his creation proves the viability of J2ME as an anywhere, anytime client platform.

Programs written in Java can, in theory at least, run on any device, and many experts believe that Java will play a very important role in the wireless in the future. Vodafone is expected to begin offering Java-enabled phones in Europe soon.

And proving that it's possible to operate a robot using a Java-enabled handset is only a start for Motorola. "This powerful proof of concept illustrates how J2ME technology-enabled handsets can be used to remotely control other devices over iDEN networks," said Peter Aloumanis, vice-president and director of Motorola's iDEN subscriber group.

Other J2ME applications being developed by Motorola include a way for traffic police to perform checks of licences or car registration plates on their phones.

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