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iRobot winner offers simple home help

Winning robot for iRobot Create contest does many things you wish the company already offered in a home robot.

Danh Trinh/iRobot/Instructables

The winner of iRobot's amateur robot-building contest is a multi-functional home robot designed by Danh Trinh of Towson, Md., the company announced Tuesday.

Trinh's winning robot, called simply "Personal Home Robot," is a teleoperational robot controlled from a laptop using Microsoft NetMeeting. It's capable of doing things like watering plants, controlling appliances, giving out reminders, dancing, and acting as a media center.

Trinh won $5,000 for his invention.

Personal Home Robot can suck up water through a straw into an onboard reservoir and then deposit the water at another location, such as a dog bowl. It can detect the relative position and distance of objects, such as a household plant, and can be used as a remote control for your television and house lights.

Videos of these and other actions performed by Personal Home Robot have been posted to YouTube and can also be seen on the Instructables Web site, according to iRobot.

Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot, announced the start of the robotics contest at the Robo Business 2007 conference in Boston in May. Its only requirement was that the roboticist use iRobot's Create programmable robot as a starting point.

The contest, which was also co-sponsored by Tom's Hardware and Instructables, judged entries on aesthetics, intelligence, utility, entertainment value, completeness, and originality, according to iRobot.