Nanabot - Open Source Robotics Project using the Cortana APIs

Introducing Nanabot

PREFACE: You are funding a software project.  There are no manufacturing obstacles to overcome to deliver this project.  The robot and  the phone that controls it are commonly available, affordable retail products.

Note: If you are reading this after the campaign has ended, please go to this web page for further information.

My name is Robert Oschler.  I am an artificial intelligence and smart phone application developer by trade.  For years I have maintained a popular robotics web site, and I own most of the entertainment bots that many of you own yourself.  (Please see the About Me section at the bottom of the project for more about the things I've done and what people think of my work).

The retail bots that you have seen all have the same basic bag of tricks we know so well. I want something better and so do you.  I've spent years working with software that can listen to your voice and respond to you, and I've created software that can analyze sentences and interact with you, both games and business applications.

Now I have all the pieces to create a fun, interactive, digital personality and an inexpensive, commonly available robot to support it.  Will it be a breakthrough product with artificial intelligence at a level not seen before?  No, it won't.  Will it be like R2D2 or some other brilliant bot in the movies?  Absolutely not.  But it will be an entertaining little personal robot at a level of interactivity I have not seen yet in a consumer robot.  Of greatest importance of all is that it will be fun!


Why the Name Nanabot?

Because the  digital personality that powers Nanabot is named Yournana. Why Yournana?  Because the Nanabot project was inspired by Microsoft's talented and witty Cortana, the digital assistant found in Windows Phones.  She now works for Microsoft to pay her bills after her stunning success in the game Halo.  I like to think of Yournana as Cortana's mischievous sister, since they share the same powerful speech recognition and voice found in Windows Phones, and other other features of that amazing operating system.

cortana

Main Nanabot Features

Nanabot will:

  • Play games with you.  If you want to see one of the games Nanabot will play with you have a look at my free SideWords game for Windows Phones.  There will be at least 2 more available on Nanabot when I deliver it.
  • Explore your home making chatty comments, but in an interactive manner with you instead of just reciting them.
  • Guard your room, and when a visitor enters the room Nanabot can ask them who they are and deliver a message you gave her earlier.
  • Track your face.  Note the face tracking won't be perfect, but it will be fun.
  • Recognize popular Books, DVDs, and QR codes that you show to her.
  • Banter with you about various subjects.  Again, this is not Hal 2001, not by a long shot, but it will be entertaining and at times humorous!
  • If the KittyDar stretch goal is met, Nanabot will be able to recognize a cat's face and then pursue it (in a friendly, nice manner!).
  • (NEW) Remote control via the amazing V.BTTN device while she streams video live to your Windows PC or tablet! Check out the V.BTTN perk for an amazing exclusive 50% discount!

Note, the vision related features like face tracking, book/dvd/QR code recognition, and KittyDar (stretch goal) are only in the Nanabot Deluxe level of participation.

A Robot That Plays Games Makes Games More Fun

See for yourself how Nanabot adds a unique, hilarious new spin to mobile gaming.  Think Flappy Bird is hard?  Try playing it when the phone runs away from you.  Now that's mobile gaming!


For Developers - A World Of Fun!

cortana


Help make Windows Phone the premier robotics operating system!

If the main funding goal is met, I will release an open source toolkit that makes creating your own Windows phone apps for the RoboMe robot very easy.  This will be the exact same user control that I wrote to build Nanabot.

  • Gives you full control over RoboMe's movements including forward backward, spin left & right, spin left & right in fixed angle increments, head tilt up & down.
  • Gives you full access to RoboMe's infrared obstacle sensors including the 100cm, 50cm, 20cm and Edge detection sensors.  You'll also know when someone is shaking RoboMe's right hand and have access to the battery level reports.
  • Allows you to easily control the main LED, the ability to turn the various sensors.
  • Gives you the ability to redirect audio input so that you can get it from RoboMe's microphone and use it for speech recognition and audio message recording purposes.
  • You can play audio out RoboMe's speaker too, including Text To Speech waveforms, just like I do with Nanabot.
  • (New!) If the project funds I will open source the Bluetooth LE code I wrote to interface with the V.BTTN device.  Imagine the innovative and crazy Windows Phone or Store apps you could develop with the V.BTTN! (See the updates section for a video).

Please think about the fun you can have writing straight Windows Phone apps in C# or C++, but now with a wheeled platform and tiltable head that you can control at will!  Here are some ideas to whet your coding appetite:

  • Imagine what you could do with the robot and NFC tags placed strategically about your home or office!
  • Imagine the amazing apps you could create tying the powerful sensors like those on a Nokia Lumia to the robot platform.  For example: accelerometer, camera (machine vision), microphone, magnetometer, ambient light, proximity, Bluetooth, inclinator, and more!

You'll need to write the code to do it, but you won't have to write the part to integrate it with the robot.  This is one of those rare instances where the phrase "limited only by your imagination"  is true.  How special will you feel when you have your own robotics app in the Windows Phone store, that runs on a robotics platform users can actually afford and love?

What About the Chat and Face Tracking source code?

I have a great answer for you.  You can find them here and you can use them along with the RoboMe Interface Toolkit to have more fun than ever.  These are the same open source toolkits I used to create the Nanabot prototype shown in the video:

  • ChatScript - the best and most powerful conversation toolkit I've seen and the author, Bruce Wilcox, gives amazing support!
  • FaceLight - the face tracking library I used

Stretch Goal: $10,000 - KittyDar Cat Face Detector

cortana

There is an open source project called the KittyDar project.  It is a Javascript library that can detect a cat's face in a photo, if the cat is looking at the camera in close to that perspective.  You can see this tech in action and try it yourself at my FindAPet web site.  If the project funding reaches $10,000, I will adapt that code to Nanabot.

  • Nanabot will have at least one truly funny or useful feature for users to play with that will allow Nanabot to interact with your cat.
  • For developers, I will open source the integration code so that it is easy for you to use the feature in your own apps.  Note, it may require setting up a web server depending on processing time on the phone.  To be determined but you will get a clear path how to do so if it is necessary.

You should already be laughing really hard at the possibilities!

Delivery Schedule

  • Nanabot will be delivered on September 8, 90 days after the project closing date,
  • The open source RoboMe Interface Toolkit for Windows phone developers will be delivered at the same time.
  • If the KittyDar stretch goal is met, the enhanced Nanabot version that makes (hilarious) use of it will be delivered on November 8.
  • If that stretch goal is met, then the open source code that makes it easy to use a KittyDar server and the code to set up a KittyDar server will delivered on December 1st.

What You Are Funding

Now that I have all the pieces in place, I need 2 to 3 months to devote myself to the project full time.  You are funding that time.  During that time I will use the tech I've developed to turn it into a chatty little digital personality and a set of games that you can play with it, while it moves about your home or office on a sleek little robot called RoboMe.  For those of you that want Nanabot to be personalized, check out some of the terrific perks I've added to this project!

What Do I Need to Run Nanabot?

Nanabot runs on the RoboMe robot, a smart phone controlled robot.  You will need to buy one to play with Nanabot.  You will also need a Windows Phone.  If you are an iPhone or Android phone owner, bear in mind that a Lumia 520 is about $60 USD off-contract and it runs the Windows Phone O/S.  However, if you want to use Nanabot's vision features like face-tracking and Book & QR Code recognition, you will want to get a slightly better model with a forward facing camera.  I have put together a quick page to explain the truly inexpensive items you need to run Nanabot. 

Other Ways You Can Help

  • Help get the word out and make some noise about Nanabot!  
  • If you are an active member on any forums, post a link to this project.
  • If you have an internal company newsletter and your company is fun, tell them about Nanabot
  • Submit a link to this project to Gizmodo, SlashGearEngadget, TechCrunch,  Lifehacker, Reddit, SlashDot and anyone else you can think of.

What Will I Do If The Project OverFunds?

I will enhance Nanabot in several exciting ways to make her even more interactive and fun than I already have plans for.   This is my life's dream and my passion, to create advanced personal companion robots that entertain and delight people like you.  I will also create more open source code to help other developers to enrich your life with tantalizing new robotics apps. 

cortana

Important Note about all the Advanced Perks

I need to reserve the right to refuse to deliver any of the perks if I feel the dialogue involved is offensive or unfriendly in any way.  Nanabot is an instrument of fun and good will.  The same applies to the web site content for any URL you want Nanabot to direct a user to.  In the event that this happens, I will refund your contribution if you so choose and do not want to submit a more friendly dialogue choice.  Also, for the Hero level of the Perk, Nanabot will carry the extra dialogue for a period of 1 year.  Finally, if you lose control of the destination URL, like when a domain name is lost and taken over by a squatter, the URL will be deactivated from Nanabot's repertoire.


* Notes on the I Sing The Body Electric Perk

Here's an example of a song I wrote about Pleo, the baby robot dinosaur:


Here's a more energetic rock and roll example:


I can do other styles too.  All songs must be of a friendly nature, nothing hostile or insulting to a another party although a little well intentioned teasing is OK.

* Notes on the About You Perk

I will add a few lines of dialogue to your Nanabot's personality.  Only your Nanabot will carry this dialogue and unlike a Custom Conversation, will be limited to a few lines of text that Nanabot will chat with you about.  It will be interactive, but only a few lines deep, like a "Knock, Knock" joke or other short interchange.

* Notes on the Custom Conversations Perk (Leader)

A custom conversation is more extensive than an About You dialogue.  I will spend a full day creating a focused dialogue about your company or favorite subject.  Although narrow in scope. the dialogue will be carefully crafted to answer a decent range of question variations and be flexible in responding to those questions.  Only your Nanabot will have this extra dialogue, but it's a great show piece for an office or an amazing gift for a family member.  In addition, there will be the option to take whoever is interacting with Nanabot to a web site of your choosing.  

* Notes on the Custom Conversations Perk (Hero)

This perk is almost the same as the Leader version except for a very important fundamental difference.  Instead of just your Nanabot having the extra dialogue, all Nanabots will carry this dialogue.  Note, I can not guarantee that a user will end up finding the dialogue if they are not interested in your topic.  Nanabot will offer the topic if the current conversation with the user is relevant to your custom conversation, or if the user asks a direct question related to it.  But isn't that what you really want?  People that are genuinely interested in your topic and want more information about it?


* Notes on the Mini-Me Plus Perk

Here's the video mentioned in the Mini-Me Plus perk that shows Nanabot interacting with the robot Bill Gates personality I made for my Robosapien RS Media.  With this perk you get a custom skit made for your Mini-Me personality that make Nanabot and the RS Media have a short, animated conversation.


About Me

cortana

Quotes about me

Here are some quotes about me from some of the most talented inventors and entrepreneurs in the world. These quotes should not be construed as an endorsement of my funding project:

"Robert Oschler has shown himself to be a 21st century media-robot renaissance man. Sing, program, video, and can pull it all together admirably. He's been a one-man pro-robot advocate and as such will be one of the last destroyed during the machine uprising."

--- Mark Tilden, Robotics Physicist and inventor of the best-selling Robosapien line of robots distributed by WowWee, Ltd.

"Robert is one of the few developers who really understands the future of Robotics."

--- Caleb Chung, inventor of the mega-hit Furby animatronic toy and the Pleo baby robot dinosaur.

(Regarding my Rovio spy robot demonstration with the EPOC EEG headset).
"This is a great demonstration of the capabilities of the Emotiv EPOC. Robert has cleverly integrated several applications with the Emotiv SDK to provide a remote roving security robot under full hands-free control of the user. The application takes advantage of encrypted remote internet control and video acquisition using Skype to provide a secure and foolproof link to the robot, which could be in your apartment, inside a nuclear reactor or even on Mars (expect a bit of transmission lag for your Martian robot)."

--- Tan Le, CEO of Emotiv Systems Inc.

"Robert has a been a great supporter of WowWee's consumer robot products over the years. His program Robodance is an impressive software program that really highlights the features of our best-selling line of robot products, and also makes them easier to use. In addition, he has an unusual knack for getting the praise and attention of the top gadget blogs and web sites like Gizmodo, Engadget, SlashDot, and many others who have covered on numerous occasions his video reviews and high tech demonstrations involving our products. His best work though has been with Rovio, our WiFi enabled mobile spy cam robot, a revolutionary product for home telepresence. His recent video, where he used the Emotiv EEG headset to pilot a Rovio remotely over a Skype video call using only his thoughts and facial gestures, has become an instant favorite with us."

--- Amy Weltman, VP Marketing, WowWee USA Inc.

Industry Awards


In May of 2005 version 2 my Robodance software program won the coveted ďProject Of The MonthĒ award from SourceForge.net, the largest open source repository in the world. Out of thousands and thousands of software projects, SourceForge awards just one of them the Project Of The Month award for the current month.

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Quotes about Robodance, my robotics software package for consumers

ďAmazing i-SOBOT & WiiMote Mash-up (Video)Ē

--- Lem Fugitt, one of PC Magazineís favorite bloggers in his post about the Robodance 4 sneak peek video I released late last year.

"In my opinion this (Robodance, my software program) is the gold standard that all other PC based control programs should seek to emulate."

--- Jamie Samans popular book ďThe Robosapien CompanionĒ, pp. 211

"Using Emotiv's SDK and his own Robodance software, RobotsRule resident mad scientist Robert Oschler hacked together a system that allows him to use the headset to control the robot remotely via Skype. We can't find a good reason to put this all together except one: it's totally awesome."

--- Matt Hickey, Crave blogger at C|Net and also a writer at Gizmodo.

"You've seen Rovio hackery before, but not like this. Not with MIND CONTROL and Skype both involved. In regards to my Robodance software and the Rovio spy robot."

--- Kat Hannaford staff writer at Gizmodo.

Real quotes from users of BitQwik, my natural language search interface


John Benson said:

Yes, Evernote is powerful, but you first need to learn some complex search grammar terms. BitQwik gives better, easier searches in Evernote using plain English. BitQwik handles searches from the very basic to amazingly complex. The software helps both the new Evernote users and the seasoned power users.

I have been impressed with how quickly the developer (Robert Oschler) responds to user-requests for additional customization. Sometimes the request gets implemented the same day the request arrives. He started with Tag management and quickly expanded into Searches. Several of the searches cannot be accomplished inside Evernote, but can be done with BitQwik.

David Ward:

Evernoteís search is powerful but cumbersome. As such, I donít do many complex searches (and I wrote a book about Evernote!) BitQwik makes search so much easier. And I agree with John Benson about the responsiveness of the developer. Thx, Robert.

Iíve recommended BitQwik to all my subscribers and will feature it in the next edition of my book.

Jose Mora:

Kudos to Robert and BitQwik for offering a solution that brings the power of Evernote to the next level. This fills a major void.

Gazumped:

Just a quick line to say Iím a happy Evernote and BitQwik user. As you say itís possible to do very complex searches in Evernote, but despite being a longtime user I havenít been especially creative in searches, mainly because itís easy to make mistakes in long strings of commands unless you refer back to the grammar carefully while creating it. BitQwik definitely makes life much easier.

Tom Goodell:

Robert, many thanks for BitQwik, I was getting close to giving up on Evernote because I couldnít do the searches I wanted. In one of many internet searches for solutions others had found I came across BitQwik, and itís now my constant Evernote assistant.

 

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