Adobe AIR driving the military of tomorrow

Last week I blogged about how Flash and AIR are used in the motion picture industry. This week I wanted to talk about another fascinating use of Adobe AIR. Wade Arnold and his company T8DESIGN built an AIR interface for the US military that is used to drive a cutting edge combat robot call the R-Gator. You all know Wade as the developer of AMFPHP and now the Zend AMF framework. Well in his real job he is building things that are helping to save the lives of our troops. The R-Gator is essentially an unmanned vehicle that is driven remotely using an XBOX 360 controller of all things.

Wade talked to me a bit about the scenarios about how these are being used in the field. The R-Gator can be used as an unmanned recon scout or continuose perimeter base defense. Troops will also send the robot into hostile areas and make it appear as if it is being driven by actual troops. The vehicle can also be equipped with REDOWL, or Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers, that can detect and locate snipers and mortars on the very first shot fired at personnel or vehicles. The operator can then provide a measured response using a 50 caliber machine gun that is mounted on the back. The R-Gator can also be equipped with a thermal laser to light up targets for air strikes. This keeps troops out of harms way while the R-Gator takes all the risks. Click on the images below to see some screenshots of the interface.

Wade also mentioned how the XBOX controller is preferred as young troops are accustomed to it which I thought was pretty funny. For obvious reasons I can’t go into a lot of details about the underlying technology but it is essentially an Adobe AIR front-end that streams live video using FMS. It has a Linux operating system and there was quite a bit of custom work that T8 had to do to get it running. The R-Gator was created by John Deere and represents the cutting edge of today’s military.


Flasher video player with FLA source

I have just finished creating a simple custom video player for Flasher Magazine. It isn’t as full-featured as some players but I wanted to make it look and feel fairly raw to match the style of the videos. There is a basic click-to-seek functionality rather than a more traditional scrubber. Doing true scrubbing requires more work and in my opinion is not even that useful. You can download the source FLA file to see how it was made and also to use it in your own projects if you want. All I ask is that you change the style so it isn’t an exact duplicate of the one I use for Flasher.


25 lines that would impress Einstein

Yes I am implying that if Einstein were still alive he would be a Flash user. The winner for the first, and hopefully not the last, 25-Line ActionScript Contest has been announced and all I can say is that my jaw is jacked up from dropping so hard. Marius Heil will receive a copy of CS4 Master Collection for his amazing text-based game. Marius is from Germany (big surprise) and I’m starting to wonder if they teach ActionScript in kindergarten there. Also for those that don’t know, CS4 Master Collection contains every product Adobe makes besides Flex Builder. Just take a class somewhere and you can get that for free anyway. I also want to say that the other finalists were amazing as well. Click on the images below to see the amazing work.

25 Line FInalists


I also want to take a moment to give a big thanks to Keith Peters for organizing and running this incredible contest. Keith did this with what little free time he has and is another shining example of what’s great about our community. I also want to thank the judges for lending their precious time as well. Enjoy your software Marius!


PS – For web standards folks, I used both an image map and a table to make this post :-) .

Download Tour de Flex right now!

At Adobe MAX the evangelism team released a new AIR application that is essentially Flex documentation on steroids. Greg Wilson, James Ward, and Christophe Coenraets are the ones responsible for putting this together. I don’t really use the Flex framework that much and even I’m excited about this application. It lets you see live examples of every component and piece of the framework. It also includes a ton of stuff that will be useful to non-Flex coders as well like AIR examples and how to connect to a whole slew of web services like Flickr and Twitter. You’ll even see me pop-up in the example on using transparent video :-) .

Click-n-zoom 3D carousel

As I mentioned in my last post, we now have a great z-sorting class thanks to Ralph. Tomorrow I’m planning on recording a tutorial showing how to use it and the example below will be the finished product. This is a basic 3D carousel that allows you to spin it based on mouse position. When you click on an image, you zoom to a close-up of the photo. From there you can click on other images to spin them into focus. To zoom back out simply click on the stage. All of the photos are loaded in via XML. Click on the image below to see the example.