Yes, we’re making a robot! And getting here has been a crazy journey ! Let’s have a look together at what the first prototype ever was like back in October 2014 and what’s happened since then!
Inception and early days
Everything started with the desire to build a product that would make one feel at ease in its presence, kind of like a “cocooning” effect to ease your mood with an intriguing form-factor that would turn eyes and attract familly members and friends around it.
A magical “universal-cube-device-thing” for the whole family with a very small feature-set. A little box to serve your own purposes: touch-sensitive remote-control, smart light, timer, alarm clock, 8-bits sound system/tweezer, beacon technology and much more via it’s open API. Our little cube gets aptly named CodeQuartz!
But this concept didn’t do it for the entire team. We were hard-pressed to find a compelling use-case for it, that would convince all of us and friends!
Walking the robot path
Because of that, we decided to go further by exploring new and entirely different possibilities! We had to breath life into our static little cube and to make it more useful!
Within a month, our cube evolved into a smart media center. It could roll around, understand voice commands, project video and play music! A real-life R2D2 just like the concept sketchs below.
Here’s what we’ve got ! Ain’t that cool?
Doing it was HARD. We got a taste of the challenges lying ahead of us on our road to create the perfect home robot.
Feedback from this experiment helped us realize the most important feature for our robot was its ability to make us smile! Sure, AI and super high-tech features were nice, but friendliness and cleverness was first and foremost!
Because we are super-hardcore animation and Pixar fans, we immediately choose to design our robot by taking cues from character animation techniques, focusing on everything that helps convey emotions and distinctiveness. Our goal for the next steps consisted in adding personnality into our now higher-tech companion.
It was time to try out crazy things! Using a smartphone as our robot’s head! Hell yes! (not a good idea)! Building a Pixar-esque desk “lamp-design” (needed ugly motors and didn’t scale down well), experimenting with motors, servos, form-factors and mechanical designs, they were all must-dos! It was a wild blend of 2D and 3D concepts poking at the real-world one after the other!
In retrospect, we really explored leaps and bonds farther than necessary. Doing what you would usually do during a brainstorming session, except we were actually building real test prototypes for everything that looked somewhat doable. We were thorough in checking whether or not each concept had enough strengths left after hitting the wall of reality.
Doing so helped us make these instrumental choices:
- ruling out the need for the robot to move around on his own
- prioritizing the “body-language” (expressiveness) capability
- identifying the absolute need for wirelessness and autonomy
- choosing a compact form-factor between handheld and bag-fit
- keeping our focus on building a makers/community-driven product
- ruling out the kit/diy strategy and choosing a plug&play design
Keep in mind this is still a work in progress, and feel free to provide feedback! We’d love to hear from you!
This is still the beginning of our adventure, but we’re entirely focused on the task at hand, and with your help, and the community, we’re sure we can make a robot that will be open, unique, clever and trustworthy!
Say hi, to Witty !