High Tech @ Home

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Abstract—This article features some of the latest advances and applications in computer graphics technology.

Keywords—computer graphics; home robotics; wireless robotics; Simplicam; PancakeBot; KEEKER; Jibo


Although no one has yet to recreate Rosie from the animated sitcom The Jetsons, now more than half a century later there are some recently released and upcoming products that capture aspects of that highly skilled household robot. Recognizing family members; reminding them of tasks and events; following them through the house with music, movies, and games; and cooking a customized, artistic breakfast for everyone are just some of the features these new products boast.

Simplicam

ArcSoft's Simplicam has many of the usual features of a Wi-Fi home security camera. With a 107 degree field of view, night vision, and 720-pixel resolution, this camera provides users with a live view of their home through either a Web or mobile (Android or iOS) app. For a monthly fee, recording services allow users to review up to 21 days of recordings and save up to five hours of clips. Users can be notified with alerts when motion or noise is detected, although this can lead to frequent alerts, for example, when a pet walks by, motion is visible through a window, or curtains are blown by an air vent. Simplicam uses face detection to notify the user only when a human is detected, improving the value of the alerts. With the recent addition of face recognition (currently in beta), users can receive customized alerts based on matching that detects the faces of up to 10 specified people. For example, users can choose to be alerted when their children enter the house or only when a stranger enters the house. The camera retails for $149, with storage plans starting at $4.99 per month. See www.simplicam.com for more information.

Graphic: PancakeBot 3D printer lets users trace any picture to define the path of the batter.

Figure 1. PancakeBot 3D printer lets users trace any picture to define the path of the batter.

PancakeBot

For those looking for a home robot to help out in the kitchen, the PancakeBot 3D printer will cook the family custom pancakes for breakfast. The idea for this creative household appliance started when Miguel Valenzuela decided to make a pancake machine out of LEGOs for his two young daughters. Two years and several design iterations later, the latest version of the PancakeBot (no longer built out of LEGOs) was launched through Kickstarter and raised over $460,000. Using the included software, users can trace any picture to define the path of the batter. The batter is dispensed onto the PancakeBot griddle, with compressed air and a vacuum used to control the placement of the batter. Those with enough artistic ability can make use of the fact that the earlier lines will cook longer and therefore be darker to include shading in their custom pancake. The PancakeBot does require a human helper to flip the pancake. The preordered units are expected to ship in the summer of 2015, and the retail price of the PancakeBot is $299.

Graphic: The wireless, mobile home entertainment and monitoring KEECKER robot includes 360 degree surround sound and a projector that can rotate 90 degrees.

Figure 2. The wireless, mobile home entertainment and monitoring KEECKER robot includes 360 degree surround sound and a projector that can rotate 90 degrees.

Jibo

Jibo, advertised as the world's first family robot, was launched through an Indiegogo campaign last summer. Cynthia Breazeal, the MIT professor who founded the robotics start-up company Jibo, is the creator of this futuristic, friendly home appliance. The company raised $2.3 million in the Indiegogo campaign, meeting all their stretch goals and receiving 4,800 preorders, which they hope to deliver by the end of 2015. In addition, the company announced in January that it raised $25.3 million in series A financing.

Jibo is about 11 inches tall and weighs in at six pounds, allowing users to easily move this robot around a home. Jibo includes two high-resolution cameras to track and recognize faces as well as capture photos and support video calls. Natural language processing lets users talk to Jibo as artificial intelligence algorithms will learn user preferences. Planned Jibo skills include serving as the family photographer by using natural cues to detect when someone is posing for a picture; telling interactive stories with graphics, sound effects, and physical movements; and acting as a personal assistant by reminding the family of important tasks and events.

During the Indiegogo campaign, backers were able to preorder the Home Edition for $499. The company plans to deliver the Jibo Developer Edition to their Indiegogo supporters and the beta release of the JiboAlive SDK in the fall of 2015. Visit www.jibo.com for more details.

KEECKER

KEECKER is a 16-inch tall, 26-pound home robot created by a Paris-based company of the same name. This egg-shaped robot is a home entertainment and monitoring system, with 360 degree surround sound and a 1,000 lumen, 720-pixel projector that can rotate 90 degrees to project on either a wall or the ceiling. A panoramic camera is positioned on top of the unit, providing a 360 degree view of the environment, and a 3D camera will allow KEECKER to map the house. This appliance contains numerous additional sensors including compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, ultrasound, infrared, light, air quality, temperature, and humidity. As opposed to Jibo, KEECKER is a mobile robot with two motorized wheels powered by two ultra-silent electric engines. KEECKER uses a lithium-ion battery, and the robot will detect when its battery is running low and will return to its contact-free induction charging base. Running on Android 5, KEECKER supports Wi-Fi a/c/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0, and BLE 4.0, and it can serve as a Wi-Fi access point. KEECKER can be preordered for $3,000, and units are expected to begin shipping in fall of 2015. For more details, visit www.keecker.com.

Contact department editors Lisa Avila at lisa.avila@kitware.com and Mike Bailey at mjb@cs.oregonstate.edu.
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