Friday 26 July 2019

Tribbles get an upgrade, now app-enabled and interactive

Tribbles just got an upgrade. The little balls of fluff have been available for years, including ones that makes sounds and vibrate. But now Science Division have bred the next generation of tribbles, with interactive features enabled via a mobile app!

Here's how Science Division describe the new tribble's abilities:
Download the Section K-7 app to change your Tribble's mode, and to make it scream at your friends by alerting your Tribble that the person holding it is a Klingon. You don't need the app to change your Tribble's mode. Use the mode button on your Tribble, to interact without the app.

Science Division Tribbles have three modes:

At Ease: Your Tribble is not searching for Klingons. It will trill to acknowledge you when you interact with it. It will also trill on its own without being picked up because, well, it's a Tribble. When left alone, your Tribble will continue to trill, but will do so less frequently to avoid irritating its human companion.

On Duty: Your Tribble will begin actively seeking Klingon agents. Pass it around to determine who is an ally, and who is an enemy among us. It will trill when it meets a friend, but it will scream if it detects a Klingon!

Watchdog: If you must leave personal items unattended, set your Tribble on top of the object that you wish to protect. If a Klingon agent attempts to retrieve that object, your Tribble will alert you with a scream!
And here's a video telling you all about it too!

Here's a look at the app. The tribbles connect via a bluetooth implant... And it looks likes you can link up several at once, as you can name and control individual tribbles the app finds.

Science Division are currently taking pre-orders, with an expected release in early 2020. The first 1500 "adopters" will get tribble registration certificate for their:

And they will also be giving out tribble pins, to the first 1000 adopters, at the Star Trek Las Vegas convention:

Science Division is a new family company, set up just to build tribbles. It's a cute story:
This project began as a running joke between Kayleigha and her dad. "Wouldn't it be funny if someone made a Tribble that you could set off on your friends like they were Klingons?!" But the more we laughed about it, the more we found ourselves creating this thing in our imaginations. One day, we (Kayleigha and Jay) finally decided to build one.

We ordered a whole bunch of open source Arduino modules, and Kayleigha set to work learning C++ coding from internet tutorials (thank you, internet!). One by one, she got the components working, and painstakingly combined their functions into the Tribble's code. Unfortunately, the mass of breadboards and cables connecting all of the components sprawled across the entire living room. We literally had to crawl over a card table of electronics parts to get into the room.

That's where Jay comes in. Jay drafted a prototyping chip layout that would allow all of those pieces to fit neatly stacked together into one little case. He mapped it all out, soldered it together, and the first Tribble came into being.
Since then, we have worked to convert that initial prototype it into actual interactive Tribbles that will turn a childhood dream into a reality--not just for the kid in Kayleigha, but for all of us for whom Star Trek is a way of life.

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