A robot with a unique personality may sound like an oxymoron. Or Fiction. But this aim London launch Emotech, run on the London stage in 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt today, with the aim of crowdfund its first product, a voice-controlled robot assistant called Ollie, early next year.

Boat takes the form of an animated eyeball, which is placed in a cup-shaped lamps designed to lie on the table. So if the thought of a big flashing eyeball that turns to look at you when you say – and says ago – makes you feel at all uneasy, well, this may not be the boat for you

Emotech insists they are going to look pretty, not terribly. The team includes ex-Dreamworks animator who has worked on films including Rise of detention and The Croods .

Ollie is now just a prototype, and the team had some problems with their demo prototype stage. But the vision of “smart lifestyle assistant,” says co-founder of Chelsea Chen – one that will have a unique identity based on their specific personality of the owner. How do you interact with Olly, and what your personal interests, will be used to determine the “tone” of your boat, she said.

“On the basis of AI and machine learning, we create a special convince the system that [with the owner] give Olly a special person,” Chen said. “Your will be different Olli my Olly. Because your personality is different from mine, and your life is different.

“For example … I am quite interested in everything, so my Olli more active, speaks quickly and at any time when I am trying to communicate with Olly, Olly always try to give me more information, more options to offer, but if a person who is more serious, more logical, all information Olli will not like me very emotional [Olli], but that one is very data-driven.

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“The four of us [in Emotech] are super fans of sci-fi movies, so in our mind builds a robot dream – this is what we really want to do,” she adds


But what exactly is Olly doing? As with other voice ordered home connected devices – or indeed an application based on voice assistant as Apple, Siri – Olly may perform Info window appear, such as telling you what the weather will be like, or of a mark -up call in the morning.

It will also be able to be used as a hub to manage multiple smart home devices, so you could ask him to darken your smart lights, for example, and put music to wireless speakers (or on its own speakers). When it launches, devices and services that it can drive a wedge into the slot include Philips Hue, FitBit, pebbles, IFTTT, Spotify and the various services of social media, according to the command.

In addition to the main associated voice-command thing – you, of course, has to do with the device as with Amazon Echo, for example – the idea that Olli will also do some autopiloting your domestic needs lifestyle as he gets to know you better and learns your habits.

For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to listen to a certain type of music, when you return home from work. Ollie could not understand it, and start the corresponding tune – before you had to say. “Hey, Ollie, I play smooth jazz”

How long it will take the bot to adapt to your routines will depend on what you want to do and how often, says cofounder Hongbin Zhuang. If this is a weekly activity, such as reading, it may take a few weeks to learn your preferences. “But, for example, let’s say, to wake up in the morning or daily training he can get data more often, which means it does not need much time to learn the curve,” he adds.

flagship bot functionality is focused on intelligent planning, so it is designed to help “time poor professionals” who might need a little help to optimize their routine. Thus, you can, for example, to tell him the overall objective to help you read more books per month – and then it will be installed near prompted you to (hopefully) the right moment when he thinks you might have a window in his busy schedule to sit and read.

“The basic concept a bit like a nest,” added Chuang. “Ollie … can develop your character based on the preferences and patterns of its users.

“Initially, the user is allowed Olli know what they want to achieve – what kind of lifestyle they want. And then based on that, Ollie will be able to help the user to organize your schedule, and make some suggestions -. For example, what is the best time read, or what better time to run “

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main OS for Olly based on Android. The team intends to release a SDK, to expand the functions of the device can offer -. So that they stipulating App Store model helps to increase the usefulness of Olly using third-party developers

From the point of view of how the device works, it will be constantly listening for voice commands to trigger sending voice data to the cloud platform for processing. Thus, the co-founders claim that it will not be data collection and analysis personal conversations – only post things you are aiming at him. (They also say that the user can delete any data sent to the cloud Olly satellite application.)

, and are equipped with sensitive microphones, designed to select the voice commands of the total domestic chaos, Ollie also has camera for facial recognition and computer vision-powered image processing, so that the robot can find out who is watching, and respond accordingly.

face detection is performed locally on the device, but then again, the recognition of the person requires treatment cloud. So when Olli detects a face in the surrounding area, it takes a photo and add that to the cloud, to try and find out who is watching. (It is also designed to physically man turns to face them, as well as other social robot solutions, Jibo.)

“In the face and voice recognition, Ollie does not know who is the direct owner, but Ollie could not say who is the guest,” Chen adds, explaining what will happen when the robot meets a man is not yet know.

She says that the process of introducing new people to the Olly “can be controlled through direct ownership” and will be “like a real introduction friends” – so the owner could conceivably say, “Ollie is my friend Gemma” and the bot will record the name and photograph of the person Rights for future use.

Looking at the market

Olli about a year-and-a-half from the arrival on the market and do not have a first-mover advantage in this space. There are already a few “social robots” at a more advanced stage of development, such as the aforementioned Jibo. Or Peretz’s Softbank. Not to mention the various other voice assistant – whether they are in the form of applications, such as Siri, or as a connected device like Amazon Echo . So there is a lot of competition lining up to sell the concept of AI-powered for the convenience of consumers.

It is also questionable how much the consumer wants to have this kind of technology – especially since it’s really just as useful as it is able. And, at this early stage, it is not always possible useful. So it’s a little Catch 22 situation. Even Siri from Apple, as of now, is a function of IOS, but not a killer app.

Despite all these problems, the team Emotech optimistic about his mission and about the adoption of the ruling robot assistants – as well they should be spending so much time and effort building Olly. The team expects to terms ranging from three to five years before the start of social robots is gaining momentum with the main pointing at a smart home devices, as a turning point that consumers feel worried enough to want the robot minion to make some of their internal growth.

Emotech £ 500,000 raised angel funding so far from an undisclosed investor in China, and will start by setting the goal of $ 100,000 to raise their Crowdfunding campaign in February next year, although they hope to get closer to $ 500,000.

“We see huge potential in the smart home market. There will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet, and most of them are home devices,” says Chuang. “So we have this type of Smart Hub, to help people to interact with all such devices.”

In terms of how Olli compares with the most similar competing devices at this stage (Jibo), they stress, market positioning is different – the latter being pitched as a device for the whole family, while Ollie is for personal; robot helper for man. While other members of your family will be able to interact with the robot, they will get only general answers -. Do not adapted to the true owner of the tone you will hear

Ollie is also designed to be more compact than competing devices. They provide people carrying it around the house, as they move from room to room and in different parts of their domestic routine. So it will have a built-in battery, which they say will be good for some eight o’clock operative time (although three to four hours of active use without recharging).

If people really want to scoop and carry digital eyeball around the house with them, especially considering that they probably already have your smartphone with them – and perhaps some wearable devices too – remains to be seen. Cost-wise, they are not fixed on the retail price, but as long as Chen says Olli will be around £ 200 to £ 300.

The original idea to create a personalized robot assistant came to the Zhuang, when he was finishing his course of human computer interaction at University College London. Why make a hardware device in general, not just the application? “We are talking about the option,” he says. “The product, say, a smartphone device. And you would not consider it as being kind or emotional system.”

If consumers will warm to adaptable devices like Ollie, as if it was a man, or see it as just another gadget filled with algorithms, is an open question right now – one that depends on whether A. I. live up to these science-fiction dreams.

Judges Question & A

Question: A question about the future of the company – it is your ambition to move away from the hardware, and then license the AI ​​of
A: Now we are building? hardware, we believe that the interaction between people and technology, when you have your own voice detection equipment will be much more accurate than, for example, a smartphone.

This is our first product. We’re going to open our platform. And integrate and ensure our system AI in other companies.

Question: Do you carry around Ollie? How do you interact with him
The final will be smaller and lighter. In general, Ollie is going to live in the main places that you are going to interact with it. For example, in the living room. In the morning he can wake you up. We’re going to build our own voice detection system so you can detect the microphone around the room.

When you cook, you put Ollie in the kitchen. When you sleep you put it next to you.

Q: How is this different from Amazon Echo
A: From the point of view of Echo many similar devices on the market. We try, that the interaction between the robot and the user of a man like. As you can see, it can have different emotions. He has a personality based on your personality.