Misty I: Is a Programmable Personal Home Robot For You?By - 05/22/2018
If you dream of programming your own personal robot, I have good news for you. Misty Robotics is launching two personal robots this year, and both of them are programmable. Their first robot, Misty I, will only be available to select developers who apply to their developer program. Misty II, however, will be open to the public.
A Blank Canvas For Developers
Misty Robotics compares what they are doing to what Apple did with their very first computer, the Apple I. Before the release of Apple I, computer hobbyists had to build DIY computers, which was even harder then, without internet and Amazon, than it is today.
Apple I changed the game by offering a fully-built, simple computer; one that plugged into an outlet and connected to a TV. As the hardware was already built, Apple I shifted the attention of computer hobbyists to software. Instead of spending an enormous amount of time and energy building a computer, hobbyists were freed to create programs for personal home use, paving the way for personal home computers.
Misty wants to do the same for the robotics industry. They want to provide you and other developers a fully-built robot, so you can turn your focus on developing programs that will advance the robot’s features. Misty I is a blank canvas, and you are the painter. You can do whatever you want to it.
Features, Features, Features
Like Apple I, Misty I comes with features you can use at your disposal.
First is mobility. Equipped with a pair of tank treads for its feet, Misty I can move around. On top of that, it’s equipped with an occipital depth sensor which it uses to map its environment and four obstacle avoidance sensors. Out-of-the-box, you can program Misty I to move. First, it maps the room, and then, using the companion software, you can enter the coordinates where you want Misty I to go or simply drive the robot.
Second is computer vision. Misty I has 4K cameras on its forehead, which allow it to look around. Misty can also stream videos to your computer. It even offers computer vision algorithms such as face tracking (detects and tracks faces) and facial recognition (identifies people you teach it to recognize).
Third, Misty has audio properties. It has a total of three far-field microphones and a powerful speaker. In theory, you can give Misty I the ability to function as an AI voice assistant. You might even be able to put Alexa in Misty I’s body.
Fourth, the robot has a 4.3″ LCD in which it can express emotion (eye expressions) or visual information (e.g., video stream).
Finally, although already fully-built, you can expand Misty I’s hardware by plugging components into the USB and serial port. You might even be able to give Misty I a robotic hand, that is, if you build one.
Interacting With Misty I
All built-in features are accessible using companion software. You can use the companion app for simple controls, Blockly for more advanced controls and commands, and API Explorer to access and program all of its features.
The companion app for Android and iOS devices is only available by request for now. It’s primarily for setup purposes, but you can also use it to control the robot’s movement. From the Drive tab of the app, you can use the joystick-like control to move Misty I forward and backward and make the robot turn sideways. You can also adjust the movement speed using the slider. Unfortunately, that’s about all you can do using the smartphone app.
The most advanced way to interact with Misty I is by using API Explorer. Like Blockly, API Explorer is a browser-based program. Unlike Blockly, it lets you access more features such as facial recognition, mapping, and tracking. It’s also what you’ll need to create programs to advance Misty I’s features.
Can Misty I Be Used For Home Security?
Like other personal home robots we’ve reviewed, our real interest is in knowing whether Misty I can be used for home security or not. And the answer is yes; it can be used for home security. Unfortunately, it can’t protect your home without being programmed to do so. Unless you’re willing to invest your time and effort to program Misty I, I suggest waiting for Misty II. Misty II will have most of Misty I’s features, but it will be pre-programmed with codes contributed by Misty I developers. II will still be programmable, but even if you don’t program it, you can access advanced features out-of-the-box. Hopefully, some of those features will be aimed at providing home security.
If you’re a developer interested in helping Misty Robotics develop Misty I, you can apply here. If you’re interested in Misty II, it will likely ship this year. You can get updates from Misty Robotics by signing up for their newsletter.