About this project
Did you miss the Fritz Kickstarter? You can buy Fritz at www.xyzbot.com/store.php
Fritz is a robotic head, with moving eyes and jaw, but also (in the advanced version available) eyelids, eyebrows, lips and moving neck. Fritz is great fun, but also a great educational tool.
Update: Stretch goal added. $42K and we will...
1) Include a sonar sensor with every $70 and higher reward. And we will include software to allow Fritz to run in standalone mode, no PC. So he will react when the sonar sensor triggers. For halloween, you could set up Fritz to start talking when people walk in front of him.
2) Tweet reader - We will add software to have Fritz read your Tweets to you as they come in. You just connect to Twitter using the Fritz app, and he'll read it to you.
Fritz says thanks for helping him to reach the $35K stretch goal in this video. This is a white acrylic Fritz, and really needs the sun, so thanks a lot for helping us hit $35K. This video was made with an actual Fritz, using the Fritz app.
Here is an MDF Fritz video a week ago, asking for help on the stretch goal.
With our $35K funding we have added "behaviors" for Fritz, taking input from things like a webcam or sensors and react to them. First behavior: He will be able to detect a face using your existing webcam and then "wake up" and greet you with "Good morning".
Or to tell you the local temperature, or the temperature in Rome or wherever you'd rather be. So, the app will include ability to get input from sensors, and to read headline from Yahoo news and say it to you. Over time, we will add other scripted behaviors that you can download.
Who can use Fritz?
For kids, Fritz is a great project to start with robotics and animatronics. And once he is built, they can continue to learn and have fun by customizing him, adding features, making a movie starring Fritz, etc. Fritz can even be a way to study the psychology of human expression and emotion.
For those that just want to have fun with a robot head, Fritz is ready for duty. You can use Fritz to build a display for Halloween. Fritz can talk to Trick-or-treaters, or scare them into dropping those pillowcases and collect the loot for yourself.
For more experienced users, Fritz is a good way to break into human emotion mimicry robotics. The computer software and the Arduino firmware will be open source and can be modified.
Basic and Advanced Models
Fritz is offered in two versions: Basic and Advanced. Basic Fritz has moveable eyes, and jaw. The Basic model is less expensive and easier to build. Advanced Fritz has greater range of expression, adding eyelids, eyebrows, lips and moveable neck.
I'm not a robotics expert. Will I be able to build and use Fritz?
Fritz was designed to be easy to assemble. No robotics experience required. Fritz is recommended for ages 12 and above. Tools needed are a small Phillips head screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, and glue. We recommend hot glue or Gorilla Glue. Budget about 2 hours to build Basic Fritz and 3 hours for Advanced Fritz.
Using Fritz is easy once he is assembled. The control application helps you to get him set up, then you just start having fun, clicking on features and playing around. You can connect a joystick and control him that way rather than using the app and a mouse and keyboard. The open source software makes it easy to update and modify if you want to, but no Arduino, or electronics, or programming experience is needed.
What about the control app?
XYZbot has created a Windows application that allows you to control Fritz with your mouse, or keystrokes, or even a joystick or game controller.
The app has a picture of Fritz's face. When you move your mouse over his face, green control dots will appear. For example, click on an eye and you will see red arrows appear (see photo above) that show which direction the eye can be moved. You just click and drag to move that part. Or you can click on a pre-generated "expression" like Happy, Sad, Disappointed, etc.
The Fritz face in the app will show that expression and robot Fritz will move his features at the same time.
You can record a sequence of actions and play them back. WIth his Text to Speech feature, you can type in text and Fritz will "speak", moving his jaw and lips in sync. You can also use a joystick for a "live" feel. If you want to use Fritz as a puppet or ventriloquist dummy, this is probably the best option since you can can get very complex behavior very quickly.
More about Behaviors and RoboRealm
What if Fritz could "see" you sit at your desk in the morning and say hello and tell you the temperature outside, or a news headline, or insult you if you like to start the day that way. Our stretch goal for $35,000 will make this possible. We will include 2 behaviors called "Webcam Detect and Greet", and "Tell me temperature". Over time we will add more behaviors which you can download, like apps for you smart phone.
This is done using the program RoboRealm which will be bundled with Fritz kits IF WE HIT $35K. RoboRealm will give YOU the ability to script your own behaviors like have Fritz read headlines from your favorite news feed, or stock quotes. You will be able to write scripts yourself, or download from our site and have them just run using the Fritz app without ever opening RoboRealm or any other program. For those that are technologically adventurous, RoboRealm is a powerful program for easily and quickly bringing machine vision to your robotics project. RoboRealm is $49.95 at normal price, but if you back Fritz at $70 and above, you get a copy for no additional cost to you. IF WE HIT $35K, so please forward and tweet this project page link and help us get the word out.
How does this compare to other robot products?
There are a few products similar to Fritz on the market now. We are convinced that Fritz gives the most function for the price. The biggest value that Fritz brings is the control software, which has a picture of Fritz's face that moves with Fritz's actual robotic parts. Other control software use a slider bar that is labeled "jaw" or "left eye" which is less intuitive than simply dragging a part on a simulated face. The table below shows how we compare to other products along with price.
Read some press about Fritz
Click below to see articles published about Fritz
Fritz goes snazzy - Acrylic in colors now offered
We have had many requests for an acrylic (plastic) with color option, so we have added rewards for acrylic Fritz kits. A quick sample of what acrylic parts look like below. Note that all parts will be acrylic in the kit, not just the faceplate. We offer Fritz in blue, white, red, green, and clear acrylic. Stay tuned for more colors as we confirm availability. You will specify color at the end of the project by our survey.
Here are some sample acrylic units built up.
Tour de Fritz - Video of Fritz's Design
Below is a video that shows the inner workings of Fritz. See how the eyes and eyelids work. It's like an anatomy lesson but without the blood and other messy stuff.
We made Fritz to be an affordable and accessible human feature mimicking robot project, not just a cool toy. Fritz will be an open source project. If we are funded, we will publish all the design files, both hardware and software, so you can build one yourself if you have access to a laser cutter and/or a 3D printer, and have some computer savvy.
In the long term, we want Fritz to evolve and become more sophisticated, not just through the efforts of XYZbot, but from hobbyists and professionals all over the world. We all see humanoid robots in the movies, walking around and interacting with humans, but a lot of work has to be done to move the technology to that level. Fritz is a great way to facilitate this. Even if you decide to not pledge for a Fritz robot, you can consider backing the project to help develop this technology.
What are funds used for?
Fritz has custom parts that have to be manufactured specifically for this product. We have to have tools made to manufacture these parts. A big piece of our project goal is taken up by these tooling and setup fees. We also have to buy parts in bulk to get the lowest cost. And finally, don't forget that Kickstarter and Amazon Payments take about 10% of the funds raised. No complaints from us. We love Kickstarter, but not every backer realizes that.
No Worries of Robot World Domination T-shirt
Do you like the idea of Fritz but you are afraid of him rebelling and dominating the world? Then get this T shirt to fend off such worries. You can get behind robotics in technical education, get a great t shirt and sleep soundly at night.
For those that like the idea of an open source robot head project, but don't want to actually buy one, you can help out by backing us at lower levels. Back at $15 level and get a laser cut FritzMark; a bookmark with a distinctive Fritz head to stick out of your book and keep an eye on you. The bookmark is laser cut and engraved from recycled card stock. Below are pictures of the bookmark with the message "Fritz Lives", but we're open to suggestions on what the final bookmark should say.
Evolution of Fritz, the prototypes
We started working on Fritz in summer of 2012. Over 6 months, and 20 major revisions later, we are ready to bring to market. Here is a photo showing the mechanical design evolution of Fritz from Neanderthal to RoboHead Sapien.
The video tells the story in brief. If you'd like to see more photos and information, visit our web page at www.xyzbot.com
Risks and challenges
Kickstarter is a great platform for promoting and funding projects. But by now we have all seen some projects that just were not ready to be put on Kickstarter. When projects fail to deliver, we think it is most often because the project creator was not ready to make the project in bulk. He or she may have made one or two in their workspace, or garage or even kitchen. But then when their idea is a hit, they find that making hundreds or even thousands of their terrific idea is beyond their abilities.
The risks then for any project are:
Design is too immature. It is still in prototyping stage
AND / OR
Design works great, but cannot be manufactured in bulk
What have we done to control these risks?
Maturity of design: XYZbot has spent over 6 months developing Fritz and we are ready to manufacture. Fritz has evolved over time through more than 20 versions, each time improving features and fixing design problems. During development we have constructed Fritz in his various manifestations over 30 times, so we have worked out the design and changed things that made assembly difficult. We have donated some Fritz kits to local schools and had them construct and operate Fritz, and we learned lessons from that and fixed problems there too.
Bulk manufacturing: Can Fritz be made by the hundreds or thousands (or gulp, millions?): XYZbot has worked with manufacturing facilities early on to be sure that all of his parts can be manufactured reliably and in quantity. XYZbot is staffed by engineers with years of experience in designing projects that can be manufactured, rather than just built one at a time in the garage. (We do have a garage though, by the way). In addition, XYZbot's engineer Kerwin Lumpkins has created and delivered a successful Kickstarter project, The Desktop Ballista. He made over 600 units, and delivered them across the globe on schedule.
So what are the risks for Fritz? We can manufacture up to 3000 Fritzes (is that how you spell plural Fritz?) without difficulty in the time frame that we advertise. We do that by making them all locally (in Denver area). If we get more than that number of orders, it will take longer to deliver. We have planned for this contingency by getting quotes from multiple manufacturers, allowing us to increase production numbers if necessary. We can handle up to 10,000 Fritz orders in this way. We think it is unlikely, but if we do get more orders than that, it will simply take more time to deliver. The first 3K would ship on schedule, and additional units would take another month for each 10K units.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We chose Fritz as the name in honor of Fritz Lang, the creator of the film Metropolis, and the iconic robot female Maria (or Hel if you're a purist). I (Kerwin) wanted to name it Karel after the Czech writer Karel Čapek but Fritz was simpler and more friendly. In the US, Karel would have been read sounding like the female name "Carol". So we went with Fritz.
Can I upgrade a basic Fritz to an Advanced Fritz later at some point (after the Kickstarter project ends)?
Yes. We designed the basic model so that it can be upgraded easily with an advanced upgrade kit. This kit, and other products, like LED kit, accessory faceplates, etc, will be offered on our estore later this year.
When the project campaign ends, we will collect this information from you, along with shipping address, etc by a survey that will be sent to you by Kickstarter.com.
We do not have a Mac version of the application to control Fritz. If you only have Mac and want to run Fritz, you can use a windows emulator program like Parallels or Virtual Box.
We tried to get it to run with the Mono platform but it just didn't work out well enough to go with it. The project and software will be open source though, so a port to Mac is certainly possible from us or anyone that wants to take it on.
The Bare Bones kit contains parts for Advanced Fritz.
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