Get ready for the future of personal robotics. Meet Romo: a smartphone-powered robot. It’s got a quirky, playful personality, a wide range of interactive capabilities, and best of all, it comes with a price tag of only $150. Not bad if you want to own a personal robot, or an “adorable robotic pet”, as its creators say.
Romo was created by Romotive, with the help of SolidWorks’ 3D software. Romotive is a team made up of designers, engineers, and self-proclaimed ‘nerds’ who are “obsessed with building an affordable, fun robot”, and the end result is a robot that uses your iOS device (4th gen iPhone or iTouch) as its brain.
You can download the free app and dock your phone onto the robotic base that looks like a miniature army tank, in light blue color.
“He is a WiFi-enabled, computer vision-capable robot, so he can do a lot of really cool things,” says Romotive Founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo in a CNN feature.
The robot has the ability to detect faces and be trained. Users can program Romo through a browser and create unique behaviors for the robot. Romo can also be remotely controlled by any iOS device, locally, or through the browser from anywhere in the world. You can also use a second iOS device to make Romo move, view live images, and snap pictures.
“If you have a robot at home you can invite your grandma or your parents or a friend to control him through the browser and their face appears on Romo. It streams through an audio and video, so it’s kind of like Skype on wheels,” says Rinaudo.
According to the SolidWorks blog, Romotive sees Romo as being beneficial to children with autism
“In some situations, it’s easier for autistic children to interact with robots than people due to their predictable range of responses, non-threatening appearance, and comfort with repetition,” writes Matthew West on the SolidWorks blog.
“Research has already indicated that robots can be really be effective in helping autistic kids learn on how to empathize in social situations. But those robots tend to be incredibly expensive. Romo is a natural way of making that kind of technology available to autistic kids all over the country,” says Rinaudo.
At such an affordable price the Romotive team is bringing robotics to a personal level by allowing people with no knowledge of programming to create a unique personality for a robot.
“We wanna build a robot that anyone can use, whether you’re 8 or you’re 80,” says Rinaud, speaking to an audience at a TED conference. “The most important thing about Romo is that we wanted to create something that was literally completely intuitive. You do not have to teach someone how to drive Romo.”
“The future of personal robotics is happening today.”
Romotive will begin shipping Romo in June 2013. Shipping is free anywhere in the US, and $50 to other locations. Download the free Romo app for iPhone and iPad here.