2.3 Robotics (physical computing)

Robotics or physical computing is where electronics meets coding. It isn’t really just about robotics as you may think. It can be any kind of gadget, mechanical device, even a smartphone could be included. It can include sensors, motors and displays. 

A micro-controller is at the heart of it, and because the micro-chips are getting smaller, cheaper and more powerful means that the range of real world applications is growing exponentially especially when combined with Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.  

Nearly everything more complicated than a torch (flashlight) has a micro-chip inside it and code runs that micro-chip. So the two key components are hardware and software. This where coding becomes real fun in my opinion.  

The hardware is developing all the time. It is amazing what you can buy these days. Just think that a few years ago the idea of a smart watch was the stuff of science fiction. Yet now we can do astonishing things with something strapped to our wrists that is thin and compact. 

Also in the world that you might call ‘robotics’ there are major advances. They can climb stairs, open doors, and navigate autonomously. These advancements are very recent and they are still working to refine them. Driverless cars are around but they still have teething problems. 

It looks like most of the innovation is driven by commercialism but that is not always true. Many want to use technology for the good of others, the planet. So if you can think of a solution to a real need then I would encourage you to learn about the world of physical computing and help someone.