Bandai, one of the world’s largest toy companies, and Evolution Robotics, the leading provider of breakthrough robotic technologies for consumer products, today announced the release of a new home telepresence robot powered by Evolution Robotics’ ViPR® visual pattern recognition technology.
Bandai’s “NetTansor™” is a compact but powerful mobile robot designed for families and hobbyists. It comes as part of a complete kit that features an onboard camera, a wireless network connection, Evolution Robotics’ intelligent vision system and easy-to-use software for the PC. Users can access NetTansor remotely from the Internet, drive it around their home to check on pets while away on vacation, or even create programs for NetTansor to run entirely on its own, such as having NetTansor patrol their house and automatically send pictures to their mobile phone based on what it sees.
Bandai selected the ViPR vision system from Evolution Robotics to enable NetTansor to interact intelligently with its environment and perform fully autonomous tasks. With ViPR, NetTansor can recognize and respond to what it sees, from everyday objects and images to even specific locations in the home. As just one example, a parent can program NetTansor to recognize when it is in the kitchen and play a personal voice message if it sees a child with a box of cookies before dinner.
“By partnering with Evolution Robotics and having access to their technologies, we were able to provide NetTansor with extremely unique and powerful interactive capabilities,” said Mr. Yoshinori Haga, General Manager for Bandai Robot Laboratory. “We are very eager to see all of the applications our customers dream up.”
“The NetTansor is an excellent example of how fast the consumer robotics market is advancing,” said Paolo Pirjanian, CEO of Evolution Robotics. “We see a growing demand for innovative solutions like ViPR that enable companies like Bandai, WowWee and Sharper Image to deliver breakthrough new products at consumer-friendly prices.”
According to Pirjanian, addressing both technology and cost considerations is critical to supporting the growth of robotics in the consumer market. To meet this need, Evolution Robotics focuses on developing powerful solutions at extremely low costs in key areas such as vision, navigation and intelligence. These solutions enable partners like Bandai to make their products much smarter, while at the same time keeping their prices very attractive to consumers.
“For NetTansor our ViPR vision solution provides the ‘smarts of the robot’ and gives it the ability to intelligently understand and react to what it sees. Just as important, ViPR is implemented in a way that adds minimal extra cost to the product. The net result is a great product from Bandai that provides a very high bang-for-the-buck for the end-consumer.”
Evolution Robotics employs this approach across a range of technologies and product categories, from vision solutions for mobile phones and interactive toys to navigation systems for smarter robotic vacuum cleaners. “Our long term goal is to be the Intel of robotics, making the key components that enable a variety of increasingly intelligent products,” said Pirjanian.
Standing at 12 inches tall, NetTansor features a three-wheel driving base, integrated video camera, microphone and speaker, along with a built-in wireless card and antenna. When connected to the Internet through a standard home wireless network, users can remotely access the NetTansor from any computer on the web.
User-friendly software powered by the ViPR vision system lets hobbyists and families create their own programs for NetTansor for a broad range of purposes, from practical to pure fun. Examples include programming NetTansor to automatically take and send a picture each time the robot drives by a pet’s bowl to show how much food is left, creating a flash card game to help a student practice his/her vocabulary skills, or having NetTansor dance and play a song each time a child holds up one of the picture command cards included with the kit.
Bandai will begin taking orders for the NetTansor robot kit for sale in Japan on December 16, 2006. The complete kit will sell for roughly $415. (US$)
Idealab for Evolution Robotics