The Misty I Developer Edition
Today marks a really exciting day for myself and the entire team here at Misty Robotics. Today we’re revealing our first product — the Misty I Developer Edition!
In May of 2017, when we first formed Misty Robotics, we asked visitors to our website one question:
TRUE OR FALSE?
Robots will become our friends, co-workers, and a part of our families. They will be personable robots that benefit everyone’s lives.
Our answer to this question is not just “true” but “very true” and Misty I is the first step towards this mission.
I’ll tell you why.
Flash back to March 5th, 1975 when Steve Wozniak attended the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club. Members of the club would design and share schematics for the early computers they were building. They would then gather components and try to simplify the designs, building computer after computer by hand.
Just over a year after that first club meeting, Apple Computer Company delivered its first units of the Apple I to the Byte Shop in Mountain View, CA. It was a computer that was simple and just worked. You no longer had to gather components and wire wrap them together, you could just plug it in to the wall, hook two wires to your TV, and write code.
In custom cases crafted mainly of mostly of wood, the $2,890 (in today’s dollars) Apple I was built specifically for programmers and included a cassette tape with APPLE BASIC. It was now, with the Apple I, that instead of programming with toggle switches and indicator lights, you could much more easily use a QWERTY keyboard and hook the computer to your TV to display “960 easy to read characters in 24 rows of 40 characters per line.” All that with “8K Bytes RAM in 16 Chips!” read an early Apple I advertisement.
Yes, it had an innovative feature set, but it was actually the combination of the Apple I and its first customers that paved the way for the personal computer phenomena that soon followed. Suddenly, instead of using their time to build computers over and over, Apple I owners were writing applications. This first generation of Apple I programmers were figuring out how computers would be used in the home and office.
It was a launching point for the computer industry.
Today we see a similar movement taking shape— one that is familiar to that which Steve Wozniak and others at the Homebrew Computer Club were helping drive. People all over the globe are building robots over and over again, most very similar to this prototype that my Sphero co-founder Adam Wilson and I built in 2013.
The method for building this sort of robot has become fairly standard practice. Engineers or hobbyists will generally take an Arduino or Raspberry Pi (like we did with Telebot), hook them to a motor driver from a company like Spark Fun, gather some motors off of eBay, a speaker from Amazon, sensors from Adafruit, and then spend days, weeks, or months, writing the software to integrate all of the pieces and get the robot to do… something.
We tend to have really big aspirations for what our homemade robots shall do, but in the end it’s hard enough to just get the them to move reliably. In the case of Adam’s and my invention above, we wanted to make a telepresence robot I could remotely move around our office in Colorado when I was working in China. Unfortunately, we only got as far as basic movement and one-way video on the same WiFi network. We’d spent most of our time just getting the basics to work.
Like the Apple I, the Misty I Developer Edition is a robot that just works. Imagine that instead of having to gather components, write all the software to integrate them, and then fall short of your aspired goal — we‘ve already solved the really hard problems for you and give you the tools to write applications for robots so together we can figure out how robots can be used in our homes and offices.
With Misty I you get:
- Stable Platform & Locomotion — You won’t have to spend more than a few minutes getting the robot to move. We make it simple so you can move on to more interesting tasks.
- Mapping & Obstacle Avoidance —We’ve got one of the best active depth sensors available to generate an accurate floor plan of your space. In only a few lines of code you can then program your robot to go to a specific location in that map or annotate points of interest.
- Computer Vision — In addition to mapping we give you computer vision tools like face tracking and face recognition. Much more is on the roadmap and will be added with future software updates.
- Far-Field Microphones & Speaker System — Like what’s in a (stationary) Amazon Echo. Just imagine what you can do when it’s in your robot!
- Visual Display — A 4.3" LCD allows your Misty I to convey personality or display whatever data or image you like.
- Highly Expandable — Both from a software and hardware perspective. With USB and serial interfaces on the back of the robot you can add additional sensors or even actuators like a gripper.
Less than a year ago we asked you about the future of robots. Today we begin to ask about the next phase: So what will you build?
We would love for you to join us in our mission to bring robots into homes and offices. Robots that will become our friends, co-workers, and a part of our families. Robots that are personable and benefit everyone’s lives.
More info at the Misty Robotics web site.