Google may not have announced anything at this year’s Mobile World Congress 2016, but that hasn’t stopped Android from taking part in the festivities. The first letter in Google’s Alphabet took to MWC to tout Android Experiments—a group of open source projects that run on the search company’s mobile platform. Among these projects: your face. Well, sort of.
The selfie machine, officially called the Ioio (pronounced yoyo) Plotter, uses an algorithm to plot your photograph onto paper. Like all Android Experiment projects, the developer, Ytai Ben-Tsvi, has made his code available on Google’s site. You may not be able to buy a selfie-drawing machine, but you can certainly make one.
“All it takes is Ytai’s code and some experience with physical computing,” Google’s Isaac Blankensmith tells us. “If you’ve used an arduino, you can do it.”
The algorithm chooses the darkest point [of the photo],” says Blankensmith, who works as a designer part of Google’s Creative Labs. “And then within a radius, it looks at 200 other random points. Of those, whichever is darkest is where it draws the next line to. And it repeats that over and over again, until it draws one continuous vector line drawing.”
The setup consists of a phone, the ioio micro-controller, two stepper motors and string on each motor. “[The phone] in turn is communicating with the stepper drivers which are telling the stepper motors exactly how to rotate to let string in and out,” Blankensmith informs us. “That string is what’s triangulating the position of the pen on the plotter. As it moves it plots that continuous line drawing per portrait.”
The result is a reimagining of your selfie made up of a single vector line portrait.