For better or worse, smartphones have come to permeate nearly every aspect of our lives. Up until now, however, they’ve remained generally passive devices, emitting a beep or vibration when they need attention, but otherwise responding to human interaction.
The MobiLimb project by Marc Teyssier and team changes this with a modular gadget that acts as a physical finger. It plugs into a smartphone’s micro USB connector as an accessory, forming the base for this five-axis robotic limb.
Five tiny servo motors provide movement capabilities, as well as feedback via their internal resistors. This enables the finger to act in a variety of configurations, such as physical avatar for on-screen activities, a stand, handle, or as a tail for a virtual pet.
It’s even powerful enough to pull a phone across a flat surface, perhaps to inform you of an impending notification. Sensors and other devices can also be fitted to the end of the finger, allowing for different configurations depending on the situation.
The MobiLimb is controlled by an Arduino Pro Micro, housed in a thin 3D-printed base that attaches the phone to its new real-world toy. More info on the build is available in Teyssier’s write-up, and you can see it demonstrated in the video below.