Rovio: Or, How to Annoy Your Coworkers From 2,800 Miles Away

by Jeff Atwood

on November 1, 2010

I'm a big fan of annoying my coworkers. Problem is, I don't have any coworkers because I work remotely from home. An impossible conundrum. Or is it?

Enter Rovio, the wi-fi enabled robotic WebCam.

Rovio got mixed reviews, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. You control Rovio through a web browser interface, with full (but low-res) video and audio. Here's a few shots of us driving around the New York World Headquarters.

Like explorers from the old world, we created maps of the New York office as we discovered it. Rovio is surprisingly full featured for an inexpensive little 'bot:

  • It can auto-dock with its base station when you get close enough -- so you can drive around for quite a while, so long as you remember to return to the dock before the batteries die.

  • There's a little LED for night lighting. It's not very effective, but ... it exists.

  • There are three camera positions: low, medium, and high.

  • It can move more or less in a circle from a standing position, so it doesn't get stuck too much.

In fact, you might even say some of us ... got a little obsessed with it. Behold the Rovio Maze Of Doomtm created by David Fullerton, George Beech, and Jason Punyon:

Is that Zardoz, as featured on the 404 page of Stack Apps we see in the maze? They don't call it the Maze of Doomtm for nothing, man!

Ben Dumke also hooked Rovio up to our internal chat, so you can call out his/her/its name and see what it's up to.

All in all, we've really enjoyed Rovio. If you, too, need to annoy your coworkers from 2,800+ miles away -- we highly recommend it.