Recent blog entries for roschler

Here's a comment of mine on the current state of the robot industry and how the next great revolution in consumer technology is being held back by the current economy.

Currently nobody wants to create a toy that costs more than about $70 USD now and far better if it's around $30 to $40 (forget the $200 to $400 toy robots of the previous years). Unemployment is still rising and the credit card companies have jacked up rates on good and bad customers alike while closing many accounts just to shore up their debt ratios; two huge market forces which directly and significantly reduce both the discretionary income (cash) and layaway income(credit) a consumer has to buy goods. This leads to a vicious cycle because the vendors whose goods they would buy panic, cut their product lines (like robots this year), and lay off employees (who are after all consumers themselves and now have no salary to buy goods with).

It's so bad that in Japan, despite the fact it has one of the fastest aging populations in the world and desperately needs assisted robotics, those companies bringing those innovations to market can't get people to buy their goods (which admittedly are expensive but would have sold anyways in better times).

On the utility side of consumer robotics you might as well just call that market the Roomba market since there really isn't anything else that dominates. There is the promise of the telepresence and home surveillance market, but iRobot dropped iConnectR like a bad habit, Meccanno released Spykee but never followed up with their announced SDK, leaving WowWee to fight the good fight on with Rovio. At least they are soldiering on by continually upgrading Rovio's firmware and helping customers fix their units when it's a parts failure. The home teleprescence market should be moving ahead a lot faster and stronger than it is. It's up to WowWee to capitalize on it before a new player eats their lunch.

I'm looking forward to 2010. How about you?

At E3 Peter Molyneux demonstrated Milo, a game that features a rendered ten year old boy that you converse with. Although Milo doesn't have true natural language processing but instead mostly extensive keyword recognition capability, "he" does have the ability to detect emotion in your voice. This could have interesting applications to robotics.

A quick note to those looking at WowWee's products shown at the CES 2009 show. The Spyball, the rolling robot that can morph between a ball and a spycam, does not have audio. This is not be mentioned by the press. Rovio, it's big brother release in 2008, does have two way audio and also is capable of driving itself.

I'll be hosting another online Pleo party with the help of Yahoo Live this Thursday, March 6 2008. If anyone wants to chat while watching my 3 Pleos raise a ruckus in real time (with audio too), just visit my Yahoo Live Robots channel at 9 PM/EST on that date. To watch you just need a Flash enabled browser. To chat you will need a Yahoo ID (they're free).

CES 2008 brought quite a few new robots from WowWee. One exciting entry was the FlyTech Bladestar flying machine, a spinning propeller with the unique twist of having sensors that allow it fly on autopilot. The most interesting in my opinion is the Rovio spy robot that allows you to monitor your home remotely and easily create patrol routes to go to predetermined spots in your home, using its point and click navigation software.

Work on Robodance progresses well but is very time consuming. I have decided to add support for the i-SOBOT robot since I think it's fantastic. This will allow i-SOBOT owners to script him using the full power of the PC instead of the tiny window and facilities on the remote control. It will also let people command all of the i-SOBOT's functionality using voice commands, instead of just the 10 the stock i-SOBOT supports.

I recently added Skype support to Robodance 4, my free software program for WowWee robot owners. It will be released at the end of November 2007. This is the version that also has WiiMote support. I made a video that shows my Skype enabled Roboquad, who is wearing a wireless camera and microphone, to patrol my house and beam audio and video back to my laptop. My laptop is connected remotely over the Internet, via a Skype video call, to my home computer. My home computer is running Robodance 4. This means I can dial into my house from anywhere in the world there is an Internet connection and patrol my house with my Roboquad, using just my voice to control it.

I've also updated my web site with a whimsical page on Samsung's RFID enabled Refrigerator. Although quite not a robot, it's the first refrigerator with A.I! It monitors your inventory levels of food and alerts you when you are getting low on various items.

Still waiting for an update on the Ugobe Pleo dinosaur robot as to when preorders will begin. In the meantime I'm laying out the design for a portal dedicated to the Pleo. I intend to have help documentation, tips and tricks information, and much more. In the meantime, I'm keeping a blog on my progress and including the occasional technical piece or feature brief on the Pleo Dinosaur.

Unfortunately the Pleo dinosaur robot has been delayed again. The original pre-order date for February 3rd 2007 has slipped and the new pre-order date will be announced some time this spring. Ugobe is making upgrades to Pleo's sensors by adding a chin sensor for tickling Pleo and several important cosmetic improvements to Pleo's eyes and skin.

26 Jan 2007 (updated 26 Jan 2007 at 00:41 UTC) »

WowWee has gone to the movies with a pair of robots that are really the original Robosapien robot done up in custom paint jobs and shells. They are the Spidersapien and Homersapien robots. Each comes with custom packaging and themed accessories, and are scheduled to be released along with, respectively, the upcoming Spiderman movie sequel and The Simpsons movie.

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