Yeah, I grew up in an era of watching robots on TV and in the movies, and reading about them in books and comic strips. They were and still are a part of our media culture. My goal in life has been to live in a Jetsons-like world! Well, not really, but I do have a film slide of Rosie the Maid up on my wall, and the mod, Googie, mid-century future style from the Jetsons is definitely my style.
It’s been fun at Sensory to be part of a robot revolution in toys. We have put speech technologies into over 50 robotic creatures from dolls to strange new alien things like Furby. When Aibo first shipped, we had half a dozen companies come to us with awesome designs for new low cost robotic dogs that could respond to their masters’ voices!
Here’s a fun realistic looking robot dog – Scamps. Sensory was in this a few years ago, and it seems to be enjoying a huge comeback in 2014.
More recently we were in Intel’s “Jarvis” headset…When we first created the Jarvis trigger, I didn’t get the name. Then I saw the movie Ironman! :-)
Sensory has designed a lot of robotic technologies beyond speech recognition and synthesis. We have platforms such as sound sourcing, where a robot with two mics can locate the speaker through triangulation. We have sonic networking as a low cost wireless protocol so robots can take commands from TV commercials or YouTube videos or even other robots. We even have made lip synchronization approaches and pitch detection technologies so robots can mimic their owners in a fun and playful way.
The rise of robotic vacuum and window cleaners and non-toy robotic applications is really Neato (yeah that’s a pun!) Of course there have been a lot of beer delivery home robots over the years too, but none of them are making it into the mainstream.
The magic however has not yet really hit, because I want the fun, playfulness, and interactivity of the toys but with utility added in, so it really is more like the Jetsons or Lost in Space.
Jibo is a new robot that might foot this bill, and it seems that I’m not the only one that likes the concept, as it is getting pretty close to being one of the Top 10 funded Indiegogo campaigns of all time!