Ever wanted to own a Personal Robot? Well, your dream is about to become reality...

Nearly 50 years after the creation of The Jetsons, owning a 'Rosie-type' personal robot is almost here. Thank you to today's technology and intelligent innovators, the 'far-fetched future utopia' dreams are finally becoming a reality.

New York City-based Robotbase has created the Personal Robot which will truly act as your assistant (and in most cases, thinking before you actually do) to take notes during your meeting, ordering food for lunch, acting as your photographer and connecting with your other smart home devices to make your life simpler and easier.

For $995 USD ($1,000 less than suggested retail) you can be one of the very first to own the Personal Robot - they're set to ship later this year. You might think that's a good chunk of change, but look at the price if you had to pay a human Personal Assistant? Time is running out, their Kickstarter campaign expires next week, and has raised nearly $140,000 USD.




I had the opportunity to interview the creator of the Personal Robot, Duy Huynh, Founder and CEO of Robotbase (pictured above). Robotbase, a NYC robotics startup keen on building practical, affordable, and intelligent robots. A native of Vietnam, Duy came to the United States when he was 18. Duy received his four-year college degree from the University of Wisconsin in his first 16 months and at the age of 19, he was already a PhD Student at the University of Maryland. Duy went on to work for IBM as a Software Architect for a few years. In 2007, he founded VIFAH Manufacturing Group, a multi-million dollar manufacturing business that helped major retailers like Target, Costco, Lowes, and Home Depot design, develop, and manufacture consumer products. In 2014, he started Robotbase to follow his passion for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

Under the hood:

Hardware

  • ARM-based Board powered by a Quad-core Qualcomm® Krait™ CPU
  • Autonomous Mobile Base
  • 3D Depth Camera
  • Touch Screen
  • Servos
  • Microphone
  • Speaker
  • Humidity Sensor, Temperature Sensor, CO2 Meter
  • Accelerometer Sensor, Gyroscope Sensor, Light Sensor, Pressure Sensor, Orientation Sensor, Rotation Vector, Linear Acceleration, Gravity, Game Rotation Vector, Geometric Rotation Vector, Significant Motion.

Internet of Things and Smart Home Automation System

  • Wireless Z-Wave Plus
  • ZigBee
  • BLE
  • Wi-Fi

Software Development Kit (SDK)

  • Artificial Intelligence SDK including Facial Recognition, Object Recognition, Emotion Recognition, Object Detection, Speech Recognition, Natural Language Processing, and Autonomous Navigation.
  • Android v5.0
  • Start building new apps for your robot right away
  • Start selling your apps on our App Store later this year

How did you go about in deciding the technology?

For each component, either software or hardware, we reviewed all the best solution providers on the market and made our decision on ‘buy vs. build’. If we think the vendors are doing a fantastic job and we can’t do it better than them, then we’ll buy from the vendor. If we believe that it’s the core of our technology and we’re confident that we can build a much better solution, then we’ll build it.

Most challenging hurdle you had to overcome in creating the Personal Robot?

The biggest challenge is on the software stack, especially the AI. People’s expectation for AI is very high with all the hype and all the movies. We’re very far away from the day that you’ll see AI like you see in fiction movies. We’re focused on very practical AI algorithms that solve practical problems.

What differentiates the Personal Robot from other robots?

It’s the AI behind the product.

What’s your experience with running multiple AI engines on mobile grade hardware? Compare that with what’s running in server farms these days.

It’s challenging. We spent a lot of time to optimize our algorithm to run faster on a mobile device. Sometimes, we have to trade absolute accuracy with time. So it doesn’t have to be 99% correct, maybe 95% correct, but if it runs 10x faster, then sure, we’ll go with it.

Since the Robot base can talk to multiple “things” in the home, what are their current challenges that could be improved upon by the ecosystem?

We have ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi now. So across these protocols, we can talk to a lot of the devices on the market already - and we’re looking forward to work with a couple new protocols this year.

I think the biggest challenge of the IoT space is not on the technology itself, but it’s more on the consumer adoption with practical use cases as well as cost reduction. Once we can show clear benefits and cut the costs down, we will have mass adoption of IoT.

What's the typical use cases for the Personal Robot?

She's your ultimate (physical) personal assistant, something that is entirely different from anything you've seen before her. So...

at your next family gatherings, you don't have to go around and take photos; you'll have "someone" go around autonomously, identify smiling faces, and capture key moments for you; so you can truly enjoy the moments rather than trying to capture it.

at lunch time, you'll have "someone" come over and ask you if you want to order a "Caesar Salad" because she remembers you had so much food in the last few days, and she wants you to stay healthy.

before dinner, she'll walk you through cooking recipes step-by-step, while your hands are busy cooking.

at night time, she'll read a story to your kids, at the same time reflecting the light color mood of the room.

while you're traveling, she patrols around the house, using all of her sensors to watch the house for you, every corner of it.

while you're in a hotel room, you can telepresence into her to stay in touch with your family or into a meeting at work with your workers, as if you're there.

during a meeting, she captures notes and reminds you when your next meeting is, who you're meeting with, and what that person just shared on Twitter or Facebook.

and, we have an open SDK, so developers can build more apps for you. Your robot will be more capable and helpful over time.

What’s it going to take for the Personal Robot to become mainstream?

More apps and cut down the hardware cost.

What’s next for the Personal Robot? Any other integrations or advancements?

We’re not building a product. We’re building a platform so that developers can develop new apps for our robots. So our next step is to provide a really powerful API for developers to build the next generation of apps, much more intelligent and autonomous. And also help developers to monetize them with our app store.



Readers, tell me your thoughts on whether or not you would like to own a Personal Robot as your assistant?

Anonymous