Thursday, 18 October 2012

Nocturnal Noughts And Crosses

Last night I woke up at 3am with my brain buzzing. Maybe it was because I had gone to bed early, but I could not stop thinking about a cool new project.

"What if," I imagined, "I got a robot arm and taught it how to play noughts and crosses? That would be good on Open Morning at school, and maybe the A level kids would get a kick out of tinkering with it."

I picture a large sheet of paper with a grid on it, a pupil drawing noughts with a thick marker pen, and a computer watching it with a camera before making its own move.

So, as I couldn't sleep I started googling and found one of these cheap robot arms from Maplin. It seems that some people have worked out how to program them in Python, and it doesn't look too tricky. In theory, making an arm draw a cross on a page should be manageable, and if it has trouble handling a pen then it could at least pick up and move a cross-shaped object on a table.

The trickier bit would be making the computer aware of what was happening. I think it's possible to get Python to read an image from a webcam, and it should be possible to write a piece of code to look for a circle drawn on the page.

So that should keep me occupied for a while. I bought the arm today. I'll report back when I have some news.

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