College student creates talking, shooting ‘Portal’ turret

Portal Turret

Detailed within a recent YouTube video, Penn State University student Kevin Swanson has built an actual turret based off designs from Valve’s popular Portal series. Swanson built the turret as his final project for an Advanced Mechatronics class at Penn State. While the turret doesn’t shoot actual bullets, Swanson has built a system that fires soft, foam Nerf ammunition at a potential target from two mini USB rocket launchers. Using an IP webcam, a laser pointer and an Arduino microprocessor, the turret tracks specific colors and fires the Nerf launchers at that color. In Swanson’s example, the turret tracks the color pink and lights up any pink shirt with the laser pointer before firing off the rounds.

portal turret mockupUsing a technical computing language called MATLAB, Swanson programmed the turret to perform all these actions in addition to replicating the voice of the turret within the Portal series. The speaker on the turret plays phrases such as “Can you come over here?” and “Are you still there?” in order to attract a target to enter the camera’s line of sight.

Swanson is currently using an shaded acrylic frame to support the firing mechanism and it has been cut to replicate an identical framework to Valve’s design. While still incomplete, Swanson plans to add a white molding to the upper portion of the turret in order to accurately depict Valve’s styling. 

This isn’t the first time that a fan of the Portal series has gone to extremes to replicate something from Valve’s series, but it’s probably the most technically involved project. Earlier this year, a Portal fan redesigned his home office to replicate an office that may have been found in Aperture Laboratories. Prior to that, parents of a Portal fan redesigned their child’s bedroom to include companion cubes, portal panels and a GLaDOS camera.


Check out the four cool Swatch watches you can use for mobile payments

Swatch has announced its Swatchpay technology is now available in Switzerland, enabling mobile payments from your Swatch watch. It works in a similar way to Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here's everything about it.

The iPhone XS Battery Case's battery has a smaller capacity than previous cases

Apple has been rumored to be working on a new iPhone battery case for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now, those new cases are finally here, offering seven hours of extra use for each iPhone and are available for $129.

The Note 8 and S8 range now have access to the Android Pie beta

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

HMD Global shows us how a slice of Android Pie is baked up

Waiting for Android updates can be a real chore -- but it's nothing compared to the work manufacturers have to do. HMD Global has released an infographic showing how Android updates like Android Pie are cooked.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.
Emerging Tech

Scientists successfully grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish

Researchers have managed to grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish for the first time, and even to successfully implant them into live mice. The results could be a game-changer for diabetes.