Recently, two applications have been developed which can convert iPod touch and iPhones into remote control for robots.
The first application, which Polytechnic Institute of New York University's Vikram Kapila has created, is iLabArm app, where a user can pinch the screen of an iPod touch to make the finger-like grippers of an arm-like robotic manipulator open and close, along with other movements.
While the second iLabBot app makes it as easy as taping directional buttons on an iPhone screen, or tilting the device to control a mobile robot.
Kapila and his students designed the applications graphical user interfaces to be intuitive and easy to use, but that does not limit their usefulness to fun and games.
The professor of mechanical engineering sees their potential in medicine, manufacturing, laboratory research and the military. They could also provide special-needs children with entertainment, learning and peer-engagement opportunities.