Scribit: a project with Briki technology

The subject of this week’s article is one of the most interesting projects in which Meteca has taken part: it concerns the insertion of the Briki MBC-WB module and the parallel design of a specific electronic crescent-shaped motherboard inside Scribit, a robot invented in Turin whose purpose is to write on walls without leaving marks, transforming a wall into an art gallery.

Scribit, a portable vertical plotter, introduces a new way of drawing, writing and sharing content from the digital world to the physical world, allowing a simple wall to be transformed into a canvas. This project was presented by Carlo Ratti, architect and engineer as well as research group director at MIT in Boston, whose work explores the relationship with new technologies. Scribit is the result of research started several years ago by CRA (Carlo Ratti Associati) on writing machines – which includes, among others, the inscription on the facade of the Future Food District at Expo 2015 (which entered the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest plotter press) and the most recent UFO-Urban Flying Opera (a project promoted by the Compagnia di San Paolo that employs a fleet of drones to reproduce an image developed collectively via the web). In order to create the robot, in 2017 Ratti brought together a veritable team, some of whom had experience in the United States, but had graduated from the Polytechnic of Turin, including: Andrea Bulgarelli, who specialized in the construction of the prototype, and Andrea Baldereschi, who dealt with marketing.

Scribit the vertical robot is testament to the power and flexibility of use of the MBC-WB. Inside the robot there is a Briki MBC-WB module, responsible for its entire management: from interfacing with Wi-Fi to motion control (including drawing and erasing functions), through the acquisition of data from various sensors. In addition to producing and supplying the MBC, Meteca has also designed and manufactured the robot’s electronic motherboard, and offers technical support dedicated to the research and development of Scribit.

The MBC-WB module plays a central role in the operation of the robot. In particular, its unique dual-core hardware architecture allows the Scribit to manage in total parallelism the activity of interfacing with the cloud (on which the drawings to be depicted are physically resident) and the actual drawing activity. Thanks to the presence of two microcontrollers specially selected for their characteristics, the MBC-WB is in fact able to parallelize control activities (even complex ones) with data exchange activities with cloud infrastructures, rather than performing complex calculations or capturing signals from various sensors and then processing them.

Scribit is supported and moves along the printing area thanks to two very thin cables. Using a special thermosensitive ink, the robot is able to write, erase and  endlessly rewrite texts and graphics on both walls and windows. It also connects to a mobile application from which you can choose the type of content you want to represent and on which part of the wall. Of course, Scribit is always connected to the Internet: this allows it to download any graphic design, that can be replicated in a short time.

Scribit had originally been thought of as a product for all those enterprises eager to frequently change the theme of their walls, in order to avoid repainting. It was not long, however, before the researchers realized the immense potential that this technology offered. What makes this project special, in fact, is the harmony that the merger of art and technology can create, transforming the ordinary four walls of your home into real art galleries. To publicise the project’s existence and raise the funds needed for its development, the project was presented on two different crowdfunding platforms. The success between Kickstarter and Indiegogo was remarkable: nearly $2.5 million was raised.

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