Watch Georgia Tech's Musical Robots Evolve Into Shimi the Robot DJ

See how researchers from Georgia Tech turned musical robots into a DJ you can buy

2 min read
Watch Georgia Tech's Musical Robots Evolve Into Shimi the Robot DJ

It's always fun when we get to follow a robot as it evolves in a research lab somewhere and then finally makes it out into The Real World.™ Shimi, who we first met at Google I/O back in June, has a lineage at Georgia Tech stretching back many years, so I thought it would be kind of cool to take a look at some of the research that went in to making this robotic DJ (which, by the way, is now on Kickstarter).

These videos come from Gil Weinberg's Robotic Musicianship Group at Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. This first one, from 2008, shows Haile, a robotic drummer that can detects the beats played by a human (sounds like a familiar feature, right?), along with the coincidentally named Shimon, a robotic marimba player that can improvise based on the analyzed scale played by as human piano player.


By 2009, Shimon is sounding pretty good, although it's still missing a head.


In late 2009, we see Shimon with a head, and he knows how to use it, a feature that you'll also find in Shimi.


It looks like Shimi was originally called Travis, no doubt after Georgia Tech alum and fellow robotics blogger Travis Deyle. Here's a demo of Travis from last year:


The promo video for Travis is the same as the one for Shimi, with one exception: Travis apparently offers the option of a smoke machine, lasers, and dancers, while Shimi does not. Boo!


The Kickstarter video itself wraps up Shimi's lineage nicely, and if you're a fan of the project, $150 will get you one as soon as they're available.


[ Shimi on Kickstarter ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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