Apr 13, 2017 | By David

As modern society becomes increasingly globalized, some of the most popular technological innovations on the market are aimed at keeping people in contact with their loved ones. The latest product from robotics startup OhmniLabs is a telepresence robot, made using 3D printing technology, that will allow families to stay in touch and participate in the same activities no matter where they are in the world. An Indiegogo campaign has been launched to raise funds for the project.

Based in Santa Clara, California, the OhmniLabs team is made up of robotics experts and tech entrepreneurs who believe in the power of consumer robots to make a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. And the team is certainly making use of its extensive experience in AI, machine learning, multi-agent systems, industrial design, mechanical & electrical engineering, and cloud infrastructure to make its dreams a reality.

The new robot currently being crowdfunded is known as the Ohmni, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about telepresence. It is specifically designed for homes and families, and will allow for the kinds of shared experiences and group interactions that existing video chat solutions, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, aren’t ideally suited to. According to Thuc Vu, co-founder and CEO of OhmniLabs, ‘’We created a robot that people can use everyday to not only communicate but experience life together. The possibilities are endless. I use Ohmni with my grandma in Vietnam and it’s amazing how natural our interaction is.”

The Ohmni was built almost entirely from 3D printed parts, on-site at the OhmniLabs base in Santa Clara. It was designed from the ground-up with simplicity being the most important factor. Only the most basic level of technical knowledge is required to use the robot, meaning that elderly family members will be able to stay in touch just as well as their more tech-savvy relatives. Additionally, operation of the Ohmni is 100% remote, as it is controlled via a small docking station; and set-up is incredibly quick and straightforward, with the robot being fully assembled out of the box, ready to connect to WiFi and make a call at the touch of a button. Finally, no account or software installation is necessary, as the robot’s cloud technology can integrate with a Google or Facebook account to authenticate a user.

The robot’s ultra-smooth head and body movements can be controlled using a mouse or touchpad, which reportedly makes the experience of video calling feel more natural, as the camera can track exactly where the user wants it to without any jerkiness or awkward repositioning. The GlideDrive motor technology also means that the robot is whisper-quiet, helping to eliminate any sounds that could interfere with a family’s interactions. From an aesthetic perspective, the Ohmni robot makes use of a variety of high-quality materials, such as brushed aluminium and bamboo, so users won't have to sacrifice style to incorporate the Ohmni into their homes.

OhmniLabs has conducted a pilot program over the past six months to gain feedback on their product, collaborating with families that have elderly relatives living far away. The ability to easily connect on a daily basis has proven very helpful for these people and feedback has been positive, so much so that this program was recently featured in the New York Times Retirement section.

The crowdfunding campaign starts today and is scheduled to end on May 10. Early backers will be receiving the first Ohmni robots, 3D printed to order, in four months time. The Super Early Bird price is just $1,599 per unit, and there are a number of other benefits and pledge options to take advantage of if you visit the Indiegogo page.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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