Barcelona-based robotics company Thecorpora has launched an Indiegogo campaign to get the successor to its Q.bo robot from 2012 into the hands of kids, educators, developers and robot enthusiasts. Unlike the earlier model, the Q.bo One – which is described as easy to build, simple to program and easy to hack – isn't mobile but sits in a cradle on a desktop.
Pitched as cute, expressive and fun, the Q.bo One desktop bot stand about 16 inches (over 400 mm) tall and is being aimed at young learners and old enthusiasts alike, though some suggested applications include serving as a hotel receptionist or patient intake assistant in a medical facility. It will be supplied in kit form so that would-be roboticists can learn how to build a bot and make it work, and has been designed around an open source software and hardware architecture.
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The main board is a Raspberry Pi 3 running the Raspbian OS, while an Arduino controls sensors at the eyes, nose and mouth. It has a HD camera in each eye, reported capable of face tracking and recognition, video and photo capture, an LED-packed mouth shapes the lights to reflect the output coming though a speaker in the base and it sports three microphones for some one-on-one bot talk or issuing voice commands "from anywhere in the room."
There's a capacitive sensor installed on the top of the robot's head that's divided into three sections, so the Q.bo One can react to touch, and an antenna to the back of the head allows for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The head moves, too, thanks to two servo motors controlling up, down, left and right movements.
Developers can create applications for the robot using Java, C++, PHP or Python, but folks new to coding can also get their hands dirty using a simple programming language called Scratch. Its makers say that the Q.bo One is capable of integration with third party AI systems like IBM's Watson, for machine learning possibilities, and some hardware components can be upgraded as needs demand, or replaced at the end of their operational lives.
The Q.bo One has just gone live on Indiegogo, where pledges for a Builder Special kit start at US$249, a Developer Kit is pitched at $299 and a limited Arrow and Thecorpora Special comes in at $369. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December. Check out the pitch video below for more on the project.