Robotic butlers that are able to efficiently perform routine tasks and communicate like humans are a staple of how the media often portrays the future. In fact, it seems inevitable that menial tasks will be eventually left to the hands of advanced technology, given how rapidly technology is already progressing.
From Roombas that are able to clean entire floors while avoiding obstacles to smart appliances that can be controlled with a smartphone, there are already some hints of intelligent machinery in the home. With BIG-i, NXROBO has created a personal robot that can perform a startling array of tasks to make life easier.
BIG-i is an intuitive, responsive, and most importantly, educable robot. Its abilities can be customized to suit the needs of its owners, and it is capable of performing many acts such as controlling other devices, speaking reminders, and even playing games. Combining several amazing technological features, NXROBO has created a robot that is versatile and can be a benefit to any family.
The company behind BIG-i, NXROBO, is a robotics company that strives to produce innovative and useful technology. It is based in China, and was founded in 2015. Its team has a great wealth of experience and ability.
- Dr. Tin Lun Lam is the CEO of NXROBO, and has over a decade of robotics experience. Some of his work is even used on Mars by NASA.
- Stanley Se is a co-founder who deals with the supply chain and quality control.
- Tony Tang is a co-founder who oversees the products.
- Victor Yang is a co-founder with a focus on the sales aspect of NXROBO.
- Jie Xiao works on the system structure for NXROBO.
- Litian Zuhuang is a system engineer.
- Xiankai Chen works as a visual engineer.
- Jiwei Gwan is the semantic engineer.
- Gang Yu handles the mechanical engineering.
- Zhendong Wang is responsible for the electronic design of the products.
- Qizuo Zhu develops the compatibility with iOS and Android.
- Tongjie Dai handles the development of cloud capabilities.
- Jian Song engineers the algorithms driving NXROBO’s technology.
Clearly, NXROBO is a team of experienced and capable individuals with a wide range of responsibilities. With experts for each individual aspect of robotics development, it is a company that is able to ensure the highest quality for all of its products.
BIG-i is a complex and intricate robot, and therefore has taken several years to develop. With such an ambitious project, it is not surprising that creating suitable hardware, software, and design would take time.
While the idea for BIG-i was first introduced in 2014, it was not until the summer of 2015 that the team was brought together and development began. In January of 2016, the first prototype was tested. Improvements were made in subsequent months, with the second prototype appearing in April. Mass production and delivery are expected to occur in March and April of 2017, respectively. Since its Kickstarter debut in September of 2016, the project has raised almost 150% of its goal ($144 000 raised with a $100 000 goal).
BIG-i has had as much thought put into its design as its technology. This is not a humanoid robot; it is actually closer in appearance to a very nice garbage can. It stands just over 2.5 feet tall, which makes it a comfortable height to interact with whether standing or sitting. Its exterior is a soft cloth with padding underneath, ensuring that it does not feel too cold and mechanical. Family robots are designed to fit in with the family, after all.
Most notably, it has one large eye at the top. This eye is used for motion sensing, facial recognition, and many other features. However, it is also beneficial for conveying emotions in a way humans understand: squinting, blinking, and gazing.
All of the design choices for the robot were based on research, so customers can be sure that they will find BIG-i a warm, welcome addition to the household.
3 Main Technologies
Although BIG-i is capable of performing a vast array of tasks, it is able to do so because of three main technological features: voice programming, the NXROBO operating system (NOS), and educability.
Customers do not need to know coding or have to type every command for BIG-i to understand given tasks. Instead, the owners’ voices can be programmed into the robot. This means speaking commands will automatically translate into the code that drives the robot.
Perhaps the best feature of BIG-i is its open-source apps. In order to complete tasks, the robot uses apps that control its hardware. However, new apps can be created and customized to continuously improve the robot’s functionality. These apps can be downloaded to improve the BIG-i experience.
In order to easily and quickly get things done with BIG-i, it must hold knowledge of the family and household it finds itself in. For that reason, it can be taught things like the layout of the house, which face goes with which name, and individuals’ preferences. It only needs to be shown something once and instructed to remember it, and the information is stored in the robot.
What Can BIG-i Do?
While BIG-i uses these technologies to function, its main purpose is naturally in carrying out tasks. This is a robot that can perform many different actions to suit the personal needs and preferences of its owner.
Sense its Environment
This robot uses its HD, 360-degree vision as a motion tracker, facial recognition scanner, and navigator (it can move freely around the house and avoid obstacles). It can also determine the location of sounds.
Perform Complicated Commands
The most useful function of the robot is its ability to turn spoken words into coded commands. For example, it could follow the instruction: “If I snap my fingers while leaving the kitchen, turn off the oven.”
It does this firstly by using facial recognition to notice the commander, then motion tracking allows it to notice the snapping fingers and walking out of the kitchen. It then matches these conditions which sends the command to turn off the oven (which it previously learned).
Connect to Smart Devices
BIG-i is able to connect to the Internet through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It is also able to connect with smart appliances and control their settings through user commands. The connection process is easy, as the robot guides users on how to connect.
The robot can also be controlled through its smartphone app. This means it can perform actions without the owner being present or actually speaking the commands. It works with both iOS and Android devices.
The robot can serve many additional functions, such as playing games like hide-and-seek, answering questions through Internet searches, and acting as an alarm clock. It is a versatile product that can handle both simple and complex tasks.
BIG-i is able to work continuously for around 4-5 hours. However, a great feature of the robot is that it will automatically find its own way back to the charging station when the battery becomes too low.
Consumers may worry that the robot will follow any given command, which could be an issue with small children in the house. However, specific voices can be programmed to give commands, while others will not receive a response.
As well, privacy could be an issue with such a large eye and its 3D vision. However, simply instructing the robot to close its eye will prevent it from seeing anything.
This robot provides incredible features, but this makes it fairly expensive. For early purchases, the robot will cost around $700, while the price will raise to about $1000 for later buyers.
- Size: 2.6 feet
- Weight: 26 lbs
- Languages: English and Chinese
- Vision: 3D camera
- Sound: 360-degree microphone
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, infrared
- Sensors: humidity, temperature, light, collision avoidance
Although BIG-i is not the first family robot created, it has by far the most varied and advanced capabilities. With its ability to convert complicated commands into coding, and its open-source apps that continuously improve its abilities, there are very few things this robot will be unable to do.
Connecting to smart devices and controlled by a smartphone app, BIG-i is not only technologically advanced; it is very user friendly. NXROBO’s team of experienced engineers have created an incredible, futuristic product that many families are sure to love.