Arduino Refs This Rock ’em Sock ’em Fight

Remember your beloved Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots toy? Well, Los Angeles-based interactive agency Friendly Vengeance is bringing it back for a good cause as part of a five-day social media fundraising campaign called “KO Bots” to benefit L.A. Kitchen.

But instead of pushing plunger buttons on a pair of joysticks, this boxing match is entirely controlled by Twitter users. Participants can tweet the @KO_Bots handle using the #RedBot or #BlueBot hashtags, which triggers that respective colored robot to take a symbolic swing at issues including ageism, food waste and recidivism, then watch the impact of their post in real-time online.

Punches are thrown with the help of some servo motors connected to an Arduino Mega, while a photoresistor under the robots’ chins are used to determine a “knock out.” A Python script searches for the hashtags, and then sends integers to the Arduino to randomize punches via USB serial communication. If a bot’s knocked out, it sends a number back to the Python script to tally a KO on the website.

After playing, users receive a thank you tweet along with a link to make a donation to the L.A Kitchen. But that’s not all. All donations up to $1 million will be be matched through 2016!

KO Bots allowed our agency and its creative partners to support an amazing organization… We like to mix play with purpose. We made the decision to incorporate Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots before we actually had the campaign details entirely hashed out. Not only are they an iconic toy, but also serve as a subtle tongue-in-cheek nod to the bots craze that is really hot in tech.” 
— Friendly Vengeance CEO Steve Tiseo.

The match streams on the KO Bots page from December 19 to December 23, 10 am to 5 pm PST, though tweets can be sent to the robots at any time during the event.

[h/t Arduino]