Robots vacuum our floors, entertain our pets or help us with our daily lives. But most of the time, they are not particularly customizable; no matter what tasks they were designed for. But robotics startup Ohbot has just unveiled Picoh, a blank robot that can be programmed to do whatever you want; or almost.
Presentation of Picoh from Ohbot
Standing at 10 cm tall, Picoh looks like a disembodied head and shoulders. On the front of this rounded rectangular head is a face in the form of a programmable LED display; composed of 144 pixels on a 16 x 9 grid. Its small nose is a tactile sensor. Its mouth is composed of two motorized lips. And its brain is an Arduino board that communicates with a computer. The whole thing is enhanced by flashing lights in his shoulders and a speaker.
Ohbot simply describes all of these features as a set of tools for DIYers. Picoh doesn’t do much when you get it. But it can be programmed via the Ohbot app, Python or Scratch 3. To make it even smarter, Picoh can also be connected to devices like webcams and cloud-based services like machine learning algorithms.
With everything at your disposal, Picoh can be anything you want. From a sophisticated lamp to a full Alexa-like assistant that responds to personalized voice commands with personalized responses. For example, the Ohbot team programmed Picoh to greet you when it recognizes your face and move its head to follow you around the room. It can lip-sync to songs or podcasts, or dance to music.
Rudimentary programmability has been seen in consumer robots from companies like LG or Anki; but none seem as versatile as Picoh. That said, it may be too complicated for some users. Especially those who have no prior knowledge or interest in learning to code. But, according to Ohbot, Picoh was designed to help people learn more about how their gadgets work.
The other drawback is that Picoh seems to need to be permanently connected to a computer to think. On the other hand, it’s also a bit cheaper than other similar robots like the Misty II. So you might be able to save some money if you are willing and able to do its programming yourself.
Ohbot is funding Picoh through Kickstarter. You’ll be able to pre-order one starting at $100.