[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47F0b_4HLDw&w=560&h=349]Here's a cool demo of “Eddie,” a new personal robot reference platform from Parallax, powered by Kinect and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio. Microsoft’s reference platform is a standard that hardware developers can utilize to build robots, explained Bill Crow, program manager for Microsoft’s robotics group. The robot in this video is a party photographer. It's comprised of a motorized rolling robot, a computer, and a Kinect. The Kinect lets the robot drive and avoid obstacles and easily find people using skeletal tracking. And when it finds a person, it lines up and centers on them, takes a picture, and then uploads it to Flickr. This photographer is not that expensive, assuming you’ll use him more than once. The kit from Parallax costs about $1,000, Crow said. And from that you just have to add a laptop and Kinect. If that’s still too rich for you, the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio has a complete simulator where you can build and test a robotics application for free without having to buy a physical robot. Have a creative idea? Microsoft would like to see it and they’ve created a contest you can enter at RoboticsAtHome.com.