Toys for kids are really fun today. Even adults find them entertaining. Take a robotic arm OWI535 which was developed by OWI. It has four degrees of freedom and a gripper. Arm is quite entertaining but the main disadvantage is that arm is controlled with wired remote control – no brain attached.
So Eric hacked this toy by adding TI launchpad to it that allows controlling arm from computer. For this he developed a motor driver circuit with FAN8200 IC that are capable of driving DC motors. Three of them takes care of six motors. Ti launchpad has a built in USB to TTL converter that allows seeing device through virtual COM port. With Robot Vision Toolkit he wrote simple GUI where every motor can be controlled by clicking an arrow on image. Why not take programming a bit further and add some intelligence where robotic arm could perform some automatic tasks.