October 17, 2014 report
Kickstarter project – KEECKER – rolling robot entertainment center
A new project on Kickstarter has gotten a lot of attention, it's the KEECKER, billed as The World's First HomePod, a rolling egg-looking robot that moves from room to room in a person's house, bringing personal entertainment functionality with it. The idea is that instead of having music players, television sets, etc. in multiple rooms, have just one that can be summoned to wherever you want.
KEECKER is white and looks like a giant egg (a little less than knee high) with just a camera, lamp, microphone and a button mounted on it. It's very plain looking, but offers a wide variety of entertainment options. It receives commands via smartphone (iOS or Android). It also comes with some smarts. When brought home it moves around the house creating a map (with assistance from the new owner) learning which room is which by name so that when summoned, it knows which room to come to. Once it arrives, KEECKER can play music or broadcast a video (or artistic renderings such as the moving galaxy) on a wall, browse the web or serve as a gaming unit. It can also be used for video conferencing courtesy of a built in 360° camera and microphone. And because it runs on Android, it can run any Android app. As if that weren't' enough, it can also be used as a sentry (or pet sitter) constantly monitoring the home (movement, temperature, CO2 and noise levels) while everyone is away.
KEECKER has motion sensors, WiFi, audio/video, an adjustable projection lamp, a processor (a quadcore mobile chip), 1 terabyte of local storage and a battery that can go for several days between recharging. Its makers promise that it's also quiet and doesn't get hot. They also plan to release both an SDK and API in the near future and promise that it won't operate like Roomba, constantly running into walls to learn of its limitations. Instead, the robot will lean more the longer it "lives" in a home, and has software that prevents it from running into things.
It's not difficult to see the usefulness of KEECKER, if you're working in the kitchen, you could call your little robot to offer up a recipe, or provide music as you cook. Likewise, it could be summoned to other areas, such as the bathroom or other parts of the house where traditional electronic devices don't exist. On the down side, it clearly wouldn't work if there are stairs and may have trouble navigating cluttered environments. Initial prices for KEECKER range from $3000 to $4000, depending on configuration.
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