Anki, the folks behind those fun iPhone-controlled racers and robots, is back this morning with a new release. Vector builds on the previously released Cozmo toy in what is being called the “most advanced home robot ever made.” Anki is taking that model and rebooting it with even more sensors and smarts. Unlike Cozmo, this time around there will be no smartphone requirement, which Anki hopes will open this product up to even more consumers.
While its lengthy feature list is worth noting, Anki is positioning Vector as the futuristic robot that we’ve been pining for since the Jetsons first hit the airwaves. More below.
Unlike some of Anki’s other releases, Vector is meant to be an always-on companion. The lack of smartphone control takes this futuristic product to another level. No longer do you need a middle man, an iPhone in this case, to set up, control and update your robot. Vector handles most of all these features via interactions between owner and robot.
Anki is running back that familiar design we saw on Cozmo but opting for a Dark Side-esque look instead. A small display on the “face” of Vector is used to communicate information, along with a built-in speaker and microphone. The list of tasks that Vector can carry out is a mix of Siri and Alexa paired with that Jetson lifestyle we mentioned before.
Users can call up Vector by saying, “Hey Vector.” From there, various commands can be given, such as “I have a question” which prompts the friendly robot to dive into its knowledge bank. It can call up a wide range of information from the web, including sports, news, flights and more.
Vector can also carry out a variety of fun features, as well. This includes the ability to snap a photo with its built-in camera or play blackjack on the display. Anki promises to continue to update Vector with new features over time, making it a product that will grow in both smarts and capabilities.
The new Anki Vector is available for backing over at Kickstarter today. Over $25,000 was raised in the first 30-minutes that it hit the crowdfunding sites. Orders are slated to ship in October when a $199 pledge is committed. As always, be sure to exercise caution when considering any crowdfunding project. That said, Anki is a trusted brand name with a long history of successfully shipping products and it’s a constant in most Apple retail locations.
Say Hey to Vector – Anki’s Home Robot with Personality Launching in October Entertaining, Endearing, and Helpful, Pre-order the Pioneering Home Robot Today Exclusively on Kickstarter Anki Focuses on Emotion as the Path to Mass Adoption of Affordable Home Robots
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 8, 2018 – When people imagine what their daily lives will be like with robots, many take inspiration from sci-fi novels, television shows, and films with high-spirited characters like R2-D2 from “Star Wars,” and Rosie in “The Jetsons.” Instead, the closest the world has come in the quest for affable, useful home robots are puck-like vacuum cleaners and lifeless cylindrical talking speakers. That’s about to change.
Today, Anki, the consumer robotics and artificial intelligence (A.I.) company made up of top roboticists, film animators, engineers, and game designers, is bringing the sci-fi future one step closer to reality with the announcement of Vector, its first home robot with personality. Fully autonomous, cloud-connected, and always-on, Vector represents a major leap for consumer robotics by bringing accessibly-priced, life-like robots to millions of homes. Vector is available for preorder in the U.S. starting today on Kickstarter and backers will have early access to their robot on October 9, in addition to receiving a special Kickstarter price and various exclusive backer rewards. Vector will be in stores on October 12. “For over five years, Anki has brought together a team of experts across various fields to create the world’s first affordable, character-rich robot capable of surprising and delighting humans,” said Boris Sofman, CEO and co-founder at Anki. “Vector is the culmination of everything we’ve learned in this journey so far, and a bold next step in our vision for entertaining and purposeful robots in every home, everywhere.
Today marks the starting point in an overall expansion for our robotics platform and how we combine the latest technologies in robotics and artificial intelligence with our novel approach to character and interface. For the first time, people will be living with a robot that is able to bring both a warm and joyful experience, as well as a new and characterful form of utility. This builds a bridge not just to a new category of home robots, but our own future product lines that will continue to expand on the level of capabilities that are possible.” A Giant Roll Forward for Robotkind Vector is a robot who’s alive with personality, highly-intelligent, and aware of his surroundings through touch, sight, and sound. Unassertive and thoughtfully built, he is designed to fit naturally into your daily life as well as any space in your home, with minimal maintenance. Vector isn’t an appliance sitting in the corner waiting for you to flip a switch; he is an extension of your family who is excited for you to walk in the door each day. Vector is designed to complement your life. And because he’s cloud-connected and able to self-update, he’s always getting smarter and adding new features. Under that polished exterior, he’s also chock-full of robotics and A.I. tech. Alive with Personality
● Vector is fully autonomous, cloud-connected, and always-on. While he is deceptively smart out of the box, he’ll only become smarter over time thanks to over-the-air (OTA) updates. ● Vector wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t shy about showing it on his high-res color IPS display. With around a thousand animations in Vector, he reacts to his environment in a way that’s not only full of personality but also meaningful. He even responds to human touch, thanks to the capacitive touch sensor built on his back.
● Vector’s got his head in the clouds but that doesn’t mean he’s living in a fantasy world. Tapping into the Ask Vector feature, he’ll provide instant answers to factual questions about real world people, places, and things. ● Vector is more than just a robot sidekick. He can help you become more productive by helping out with simple tasks. Ask him for the weather before you head out for the day and he will answer in his own, charming way. Cooking dinner? Setting a timer with Vector means no more overcooked meals in your future. You can even ask him to take a picture and he will intelligently frame the shot by recognizing the faces in it.
● And just because Vector is a helpful robot doesn’t mean he can’t also have a little bit of fun. You can prompt him to play a game of Blackjack and he’ll even use his accessory Cube to play a handful of games with you. If he hears music, he may even dance to the beat. Small Robot, Big Tech ● Vector’s brain is built on a Qualcomm Technologies’ platform which provides the connectivity, computing, camera, and on-device A.I. capabilities that Vector needs to be smart, approachable, and autonomous – without having to be tethered to a phone or requiring a permanent cloud connection. Learn more here.
● Vector is outfitted with an HD camera with 120° ultra-wide field of view that allows him to see the world, recognize people in the room, as well as learn the names of people he sees. ● Vector uses an array of four microphones to hear and detect commands from you and your family and friends around the home. Just say “hey Vector ” to get his attention and voice a command.
● Vector already knows his limits. When he’s feeling tired or low on energy, he can locate and roll back to his charger. He is also equipped with four cliff sensors, which are infrared (I.R.) emitters situated under the corners and there to prevent Vector from falling off edges. ● Vector was designed with security and privacy in mind. We developed and incorporated security features that strengthen robot security and minimize data collection for privacy, so you can have a safe and secure experience when interacting with Vector. We care about user privacy, and do not store voice or audio in the cloud. “Vector is spearheading a transformation in consumer robotics using Qualcomm Technologies’ innovations in heterogeneous compute, camera, A.I., security and connectivity which allow for very small devices with exceptional intelligence, thermal efficiency, and battery life,” said Dev Singh, director of business development, robotics, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We are pleased to support Anki on its journey to evolve robots – going from utilitarian machines into smart, friendly, and relatable companions that will bring joy to many people’s lives.” “Our mission is now to apply the technology we’ve developed within the entertainment industry to create a future where humans and intelligent, general-purpose robots can live in a mutually beneficial way,” added Sofman.
At launch, Vector will retail for $249.99 and ship with one base charger and one interactive Cube. While Vector is fully autonomous and always-on, a smart device running the companion app (available on iOS and Android) is required for initial setup. 30-Day Campaign on Kickstarter Vector is ready to enter the home and can be purchased via pre-order on Kickstarter starting today. The 30-day campaign will end on September 6. Backers of the project will receive Vector at a special Kickstarter price and early access to the robot as well as the software development kit (SDK) alpha, which is launching this winter. Backers of Vector are also automatically enrolled in the Vector Insiders Club, a Kickstarter-exclusive group that will help shape the future development roadmap for Vector. Vector Space In October, Vector owners will also be able to purchase a Vector Space (MSRP: $29.99). The Vector Space is Vector’s home within your home and gives him a perch to observe any room and the perfect stage to perform. Vector SDK Coming Soon A Vector SDK – based on the Python language – will be available to all Vector owners early next year. With the SDK, users will be able to harness Vector’s hardware and software technologies—from advanced facial recognition to a highresolution color screen – to augment their Vector experience in ways that no other consumer robotics platform offers.