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When BlackBerry developers play with robots

Here's what you get when you pair BlackBerry developers with robots made from a Lego Mindstorm kit.

It wasn't all keynotes, lectures, and roundtable discussions at last week's BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco. Programmers, business folk, and even some journalists got a chance to test their skills maneuvering a motorized robot through an obstacle course--using a BlackBerry Storm as the controller (video below).

A development group within BlackBerry-maker RIM conceived of the Robot Challenge, and constructed four bots from a Lego Mindstorm set. It also built four identical obstacle courses that include a zig-zag gauntlet, a ramp, and a shooting gallery. Players who weren't able to get their robots over the finish line within the two minute time window were subjected to a groan emitted from the Storm app. What else?: "Wah, wah waaaahhh." Contestants got one shot to make their scores count.

Frequent gamers performed better on the whole, said Sarim Aziz, Senior Application Development Consultant for RIM, and the author of the robot controller app. The winner, James White of the TDC Group, zoomed his robot over the finish line in just less than a minute (56.95 seconds, to be exact.) The reward for his skill? A shiny, new BlackBerry Storm2--and a zippy Lego Mindstorm robot.