We know Google loves robots. And we're not talking about Android. We mean real robots such as self-driving cars, cloud-based robots, and others that presumably remain under wraps. So it's not a surprise that Google invited a bunch of robots to its developers conference this week. One of them is Shimi, a smartphone-enabled musical robot developed at Georgia Tech and unveiled today at Google I/O.
Shimi is basically an interactive robotic speaker. You dock your smartphone on the bot, and it will not only play your songs but also recommend tracks and dance to the beat. It reminds me a bit of other speaker-robot hybrids like the OLogic AMP musical robot or the TOSY "Bieber Bot" shown at CES. At Google I/O, three Shimi bots performed together:
Using the phone's camera and image recognition software, Shimi can track a user around a room and position its speakers for optimal sound. And if you tap or clap a beat, Shimi will search your musical library for tracks that match the rhythm.
The robot was developed by a team led by Professor Gil Weinberg, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology. Weinberg and his colleagues plan to commercialize Shimi through a new startup company, Tovbot, based in Atlanta.
Future improvements include making the robot able to recognize gestures: shake your head when you dislike a sound or wave your hand in the air to skip tracks or change the volume. Tovbot also wants to allow developers to create new behaviors for the robot using an API.
The company hopes to make the robot available to consumers by the 2013 holiday season at a price ranging from US $100 to $200. What you think? Would you buy one?
Here's another video showing how the robot works:
Image and videos: Georgia Tech/Tovbot
Erico Guizzo is the Director of Digital Innovation at IEEE Spectrum, and cofounder of the IEEE Robots Guide, an award-winning interactive site about robotics. He oversees the operation, integration, and new feature development for all digital properties and platforms, including the Spectrum website, newsletters, CMS, editorial workflow systems, and analytics and AI tools. An IEEE Member, he is an electrical engineer by training and has a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.