If you’re a tinkerer, maker, engineer, roboticist, or worse, we totally understand.
Since 2002, the purpose of Charmed Labs has been to bring advanced technologies to new audiences by making the technologies easy to use and affordable. And to have fun in the process. We especially enjoy connecting with the educational, hobbyist and maker communities. They have used our products in innovative and interesting ways and have inspired us with their cool ideas. We’re interested in your suggestions and hearing what you’re working on, so send us a note!
Charmed Labs is located in wonderful Austin, Texas.
A brief product history
Our first product, the Xport, plugged into the back of the GameBoy Advance where the game cartridge normally plugged in. It gave the GameBoy lots of I/O capabilities, and led to the first GameBoy Advance robot and camera. We braved legal threats from Nintendo and kept it shipping for years. Power to the people! Makers unite! Uh, fight the power! You get the idea…
Extending the capabilities to the Xport, the Xport Robot Kit added 16 sensor ports and closed-loop motor control to the Xport. The XRC stepped in to help address a widely held opinion at the time (2003) — the LEGO RCX 1.0 brick from Mindstorms was getting old and tired. A Bluetooth module was later added giving your GameBoy robot creation wireless communication with a PC or smartphone.
A color vision system and fast battery charger were added to the XRC and further customized to meet the needs of Botball.org, making it the Xport Botball Controller (XBC). The XBC has been used by tens of thousands of middle school and high school students. (Botball, a nonprofit that promotes STEM activities, including an amazing robot competition for middle school and high school students.)
Qwerk was a Linux-based robot controller and the main component in the Telepresence Robotics Kit (TeRK). It was a partnership between Charmed Labs and the CMU Create lab and funded by Intel and Google. Its purpose was to help more students consider a career in computer science. “Plug in some motors, a webcam, and a battery. Turn it on, and fire up a web browser, then become ‘telepresent’ through the robot you just put together, from anywhere.”
Working closely with Innovation First Inc., the creators of the VEX line of robot products, we helped design the Linux-based VEXpro robot controller for advanced robotics projects. The VEXpro was based on the Qwerk design and added more I/O, an LCD and keypad.
We designed and manufactured the first GigaPan robot camera mounts in partnership with the CMU Create Lab and NASA Ames IRG. GigaPan makes it easy to take gigapixel panoramas, and it introduced gigapixel photography to a wide audience. GigaPan Systems was later formed to support the growing GigaPan community. The unit pictured above was the design that photographed the widely-publicized gigapixel image of President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Working with GigaPan Systems, we helped design the GigaPan Epic line of robotic camera mounts. The Epic Pro won the 2010 Popular Photography Editor’s Choice Award. The Epic Pro has taken thousands of breathtaking gigapixel panoramas including a panorama of lower Manhattan from atop the new World Trade Center, which was featured on the front cover of Time magazine March 2014. The GigaPan Epic camera mounts are being sold through OmegaBrandess and several distributors worldwide.
GigaPan continues to be used extensively in education.
Pixy (CMUcam5) is another partnership with CMU and the latest version of the CMUcam line of color vision systems. Pixy was launched on Kickstarter in late 2013. Pixy is faster, smaller, easier to use, and costs less than previous CMUcams. And in May 2018 we introduced Pixy2, which is smaller, faster, and smarter than the original Pixy!
Pixy and Pixy2 are plug-and-play compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Beaglebone Black. We also have LEGO-compatible versions of Pixy and Pixy2 and a pan-tilt kit. Pixy2, Pixy2 LEGO, and Pixy2 Pan-tilt are currently available now through distributors worldwide. We’re super excited to see what you’ll do with them!
Vizy is an advanced AI camera based on the Raspberry Pi and launched on Kickstarter in late 2020. It has tons of features including advanced optics, power, I/O, software, and networking. Vizy is currently available on vizycam.com and on Amazon! We are targeting a new application release for Vizy every couple of months, so stay tuned!