All New Little Robot Friends (Canceled)
Little Robot Friends are cute, expressive characters that make learning electronics and code both fun and rewarding.
What are Little Robot Friends?
Made out of a circuit board and simple electrical components, Little Robot Friends introduces electronics and code literacy in a playful way. The robots have multiple sensory receptors: they can sense light, hear sound, receive touch, and detect movement. They can talk or sing to you in their own language (beepboop-ese) and express their moods through their RGB LED eyes. They can communicate wirelessly to each other, and to your smart devices. And best of all, they are programmable by you.
Spikey, Curvy and Ghosty are the original Little Robot Friends that have been upgraded to have a more powerful processor, more sensors, a rechargeable battery pack, and Bluetooth for wireless communication.
Crafty is our new addition to the family and looks a bit different. With Crafty, you can create your own Little Robot Friend using almost any material. Here are some examples:
Crafty has all the same parts as the other LRFs, so your new robot can sing the same songs, perform the same tricks, and play the same games as Spikey, Curvy, and Ghosty!
What can I do with it?
The robots come fully assembled - however - if you like soldering, Spikey, Curvy and Ghosty are also available in a DIY kit with easy to solder, through-hole parts. Our DIY kits have been redesigned to accommodate those with beginner soldering skills. There are 16 solder points that should take no longer than 30 minutes to assemble.
For the hands-on creative type, a Crafty kit includes all the same parts as the other robots, but allows you to arrange them however you please. Design and make your own robot character using almost any material, then connect up the components to make your very own unique Little Robot Friend—no soldering required!
Learn about basic electronics simply by putting the robot together.
Out of the box, your Little Robot Friend is ready to play. A single touch on a robot’s head is called a tap, multiple touches are called a tickle, a long touch is a hug. Depending on your robot’s personality, it will react in different ways.
And that’s just with one sensor. There are two other touch sensors on the robot, one on each hand. Hold the left hand to sing a song; hold the right hand to perform a trick. There’s a light sensor to tell the difference between light and dark. There’s a microphone so the robot can hear loud noises. There’s also an accelerometer, which is a nifty sensor for detecting movement.
Friends like to play together, and so do these robots. Wirelessly connect multiple robots together so they can have conversations or sing songs together.
Oh, they can sing songs?
Yes, the Little Robot Friends can sing songs in their own robot voice. Our new Little Robot Friends App comes with a handful of tunes ready to play, but you can also compose your own music in the app and upload it to the robot to teach it how to sing.
Want to customize how your robot reacts to different situations? The Little Robot Friends App (available for Android, iOS, and Chrome) allows you to do that and more. Give your robot a name, change its personality, create new expressions, teach it new songs and tricks and even play games! Check out this video to see how our App works:
In the LRF App, customizing your robot's personality is as easy as adjusting sliders. Do you want a funny robot? Is your robot scared of the dark? Each robot comes with distinct character traits that can be individually set. By responding to input in different ways, the robots develop unique personalities as you learn to program them. Design your robot’s personality to mirror your own or someone you love.
To do even more with your robot, you’ll need to do some coding. It’s simple to write and upload custom programs to your Little Robot Friend using the built-in USB port.
The Little Robot Friends are compatible with the most popular educational platforms for learning hardware and code—Arduino and Blockly (similar to Scratch). Our new Arduino library is written from the ground up, with great examples to quickly get you started. Our step-by-step tutorials will show you how to take control of all the robot’s parts: changing eye colors, making sounds, reading sensors, and sending messages to your computer or other robots.
The robots love to learn new tricks. Our LRF App comes with a selection of fun tricks that you can upload to your robot with the press of a button, but we will also show you how to make your own tricks! Here are some examples of tricks we've already done: using your robot as a cookie jar alarm, a singing birthday candle, and a lullaby night light. Now, you can do even more cool things by connecting your robot to your smart device such as: respond to the weather outside, chirp when you get a new tweet, or send a virtual hug to a loved one.
So many great possibilities await:
The Little Robot Friends provide an open-ended tinkering experience for beginners and experts alike. We've made sure that there are ways to play for all ages and backgrounds, and that everyone can learn something new in a fun and rewarding way. Each robot is just a starting point for your creativity and imagination - so get making! It's more fun with friends.
We've learned a lot since our first version of the Little Robot Friends, which started as a simple hobby project. Kids instantly fell in love with them, and when kids love something, their parents and educators are equally enthusiastic. Little Robot Friends encourages open-ended learning activities, fosters prolonged engagement, and provides many flexible ways to integrate technology into a learning environment. We have received numerous requests for educational packages and curriculum activities for including the Little Robot Friends into lesson plans - and this is something we feel very strongly about.
So when we began designing the new Little Robot Friends we took these requests to heart. We're proud to say that our new family of Little Robot Friends are brimming with education-friendly features. Our new robot character - Crafty - allows for educators to use conventional crafting materials in lessons. In addition, students can keep the take-home component without consuming the entire classroom kit.
Our support for visual programming (like Scratch or Mindstorms) makes programming less formidable. Our App makes learning a fun and causal experience. But these are just a few entry points to a wide assortment of STEM-related activities that grow in complexity and skill.
We're excited to work with educators who are looking to incorporate the Little Robot Friends into their STEM/STEAM programs, so we've create a handy LRF Educator Guide to 'kickstart' that relationship: Download the PDF here.
The Maker Movement
If you run a makerspace, digital literacy camp, or homeschool, Little Robot Friends kits are a proven success when it comes to getting kids excited about learning. Our activities run the gamut from soldering, 3D printing, laser cutting, crafting, to basic electronics and programming. We can create custom kits that accommodate all sorts of skill levels, group sizes, and costs of consumable components. Reach out and let us know how you'd like to use Little Robot Friends and together we can find a package that fits your needs.
Where are we at currently?
Right now, our prototypes are at the final stage and we have identified various manufacturing partners for production. Our LRF App and firmware are in active development and will be ready by the time we start shipping. Our funding goal of $125,000 is to get us to the mass-order quantity that will keep prices down and make LRF a viable product in the marketplace.
Why are we on Kickstarter again?
Since our last Kickstarter campaign, we’ve devoted much of our energy and funds into researching and redesigning the Little Robot Friends, taking your feedback and requests to heart. So we've decided to launch these new robots on Kickstarter again to reach out directly to our supporters - rather than taking on 3rd-party investment that could impact the quality of this project. We're a small creative studio and want to remain focused on creating thoughtful and unique projects that embrace learning and openness - and the enormous support of the Kickstarter community helped us achieve that goal in the past. Thanks to you, thousands of Little Robot Friends have been shipped to more than 30 countries all over the globe, we couldn't have done it otherwise.
What about the original Little Robot Friend?
The new Little Robot Friends have several key features that differentiate them from their original designs. They now have a built-in rechargeable battery and USB connectivity, so no Dock is required for coding. They also have new sensors: a more sensitive microphone, two extra touch inputs (right and left hands), and an accelerometer for detecting motion. We’ve also swapped out the IR LEDs - which is how the original Little Robot Friends chat with each other - for Bluetooth. Most importantly, we’ve upgraded the processor for an 8-bit AVR Microcontroller running at 8MHz to a 32-bit ARM Microcontroller running at 48MHz.
Unfortunately we’ve had to drop a couple things we loved about the original Little Robot Friends design to allow for all these new features. The personality resistors are gone to make space for all the new chips on the main circuit, and our beloved wood base is now a polycarbonate translucent plastic so we can fit the internal battery and save some money on production. Design is all about compromise, and we’ve been labouring over the details for more than a year to deliver a Little Robot Friend design that is smarter, more interactive and widely accessible. We think you’re going to love them.
For those of you who have an original Little Robot Friend - fear not. Once we launch and work out the bugs of the new codebase, we’re going to start implementing features from the new Little Robot Friends code back to our original series. Of course, some parts of the code will not be portable due to the differences in hardware - but we’re going to prepare some ‘Original LRF Hacks’ so you can add new functionality to your original robot. That said, we still need your support if we’re going to pull this off, so pick up a new Little Robot Friend to add to your collection and help the cause!
From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You!
Little Robot Friends are made by people passionate about the intersection of art and technology. We believe in the interdisciplinary future, technology as an expressive material, casual learning, open hardware and software, and our mission is to help build skills for the next generation of robot makers around the world.
Risks and challenges
This is our second time here on Kickstarter, and while we acknowledge that hardware projects are always subject to production and manufacturing delays, we are confident that we will be able to overcome them. Our first campaign was delivered within a month of our promised ship date, and we're quite happy with that fact. We're a service and production company that has been operating at a high-level for over 10 years, so we know how to solve problems when they arise to stay on-time and on-budget.
Our biggest concern is component sourcing and lead-time. We've designed the Little Robot Friends using as many popular and freely available parts as possible, but there can always be one or two components that hold up the rest. For our last campaign there was a global shortage on micro controllers that caused us to panic, but we were able to find just enough from various vendors to cover our needs. Once our project is funded we will immediately begin buying up all the parts required to avoid any shortages or delays.
During our last campaign, we learned that international shipping can be unexpectedly onerous for a small company like ours. To this end, we have partnered with a reputable shipping company to make sure that the rewards get to you in a timely manner. We plan to ship product in the order we receive pledges, so the earliest supporters will get theirs the quickest.
Let's say this campaign is VERY VERY successful, and we receive many more orders than expected. Nice problem to have. At that point, we will bring on more staff to make sure everyone gets their reward in a timely manner, but delays will be inevitable for those who are 'late to the party'. We plan to begin shipping in mid-September. The absolute latest we will ship is early November. Our window is about 6 weeks (assuming total quantity is under 10K units).
As our partner in this journey, we are committed to keeping you involved along the way. You will receive updates as the project progresses, and we will keep you informed of our process as much as possible. And of course, feel free to reach out with a question or concern, and we will respond as quick as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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