NOTE: Please check out the reward levels that include a telepresence tour where you can enjoy the fun and excitement of telepresence robotics without having to own a Rovio robot. (Thank you Rick Lehrbaum at DeviceGuru for this great suggestion to help contributors really understand what they are funding.)
What is Robodance and what is Rovio?
Robodance is PC software that makes consumer robots more powerful and fun. For 4 years I put out a new version every year, like clockwork, financed completely out of my own pocket. However Robodance 5, the best version ever by far, is held up despite being nearly complete because I have not been able to make the time to finish it as of late. You can change that.
- Eliminates the need to configure your router in most cases - With Robodance 5 you no longer have to expose a port on your router to access your Rovio from the Web.
- Eliminates the need for a dynamic Domain Name Server service - you do not not need to use and therefore pay for a dynamic DNS service to access your Rovio from the Web.
- Quality two way audio no matter how you connect - Rovio sessions with Robodance 5 do not involve the use of a Web browser or any ActiveX controls like the default software does so your audio quality is not at the mercy of those components.
- Encrypted video, audio, and login details - now accessing your Rovio from a public WiFi access point is much safer since your session is fully encrypted and can no longer be snooped by hackers wirelessly monitoring your session. Also, unlike the original software, your login details are no longer sent over the air in plain text, a vital step in improving session security.
You can see what the New York Times had to say about Rovio and my project here:
What about the free version?
The above features will be part of the free version that I will publish along with the Pro version.
NOTE: The completion of the Pro project means implicitly that the free version of Robodance 5 gets finished too.
What am I funding and how can Robodance 5 help the physically challenged?
What you are funding is the Pro version, which has additional exciting features and also has benefits for the physically challenged. For the first time in history an affordable consumer EEG headset is being sold called the EPOC, an Emotiv Systems, Ltd. product. This $300 USD headset allows you to operate a computer in several new innovative ways, but for Robodance 5 it is it's ability to detect head movement and facial gestures that are important. Coupled with the inexpensive Rovio it can give those with limited mobility a mobile set of eyes and ears to explore their home or any place else in the world there's a Rovio they can connect to.
Note, for those people that do not have head movement capability I will be adding an alternate interface that uses only the EPOC's ability to detect subtle muscle tension in the face and scalp and it's ability to detect some strong brain activity patterns, without relying on head movement. However, I can't say that interface will be effective until I have had some real trials with real people.
You can see the full video on YouTube that explains how the system works, a short piece of which you saw in the project video:
What additional features does the Pro version have?
Robodance 5 Pro feature list
- Everything the free version has
- Brighter video feed adjustable by brightness and contrast
- Emotiv EPOC EEG headset support
- Voice control - when at home, you will be able to talk to Rovio's microphone directly and give it voice commands instead of having to use your PC's microphone.
- Phone on Wheels - when at home, Rovio will let you know when there is an incoming Skype call and via voice commands you can accept or screen the call.
- Control via the Nintendo WiiMote (may not work on all systems due to PC WiiMote drivers).
- Access to the private support forum for six months
Robodance 5 will have a retail price of $49 USD. If you want to get the Pro version at a solid discount then check the Pledge sidebar out since a full fledged copy of Robodance 5 Pro at a massive discount is one of the rewards.
IMPORTANT: The Rovio robot, Nintendo WiiMote, and the Emotiv EEG headset are not included and you will need to purchases these separately on your own. More information is available at my Robodance web site. Also, Rovio is now in the Sony AIBO class of products in that WowWee is no longer manufacturing it. However, there are plenty of new and used ones to be found and Rovio still is the only game in town for affordable telepresence robotics. In any case, do your research on Rovio before making a purchase. You will also need Skype but the Skype software is free.
How long will it take to finish?
Once the project is funded and closed the software will be finished approximately 3 months after that.
Your pledge will allow me to divert time from contracting work and finish the project.
What will you do with funds above the project goal (overfunding)?
Continue work on Robodance by improving the product beyond the current list of features and adding exciting new features. For example, I have some interesting ideas for machine vision, object recognition, and sound identification that could be very useful to Rovio users. I've also been considering creating a fun "pet" personality for Rovio.
You can read about Pleo the baby robot dinosaur in the ABC Nightline News article below, where they named me "Pleo's #1 fan". You saw a short excerpt from the accompanying television segment in the project video:
Quotes about me
Here are some quotes about me from some of the most talented inventors and entrepreneurs in the world. These quotes should not be construed as an endorsement of my Kickstarter project:
"Robert Oschler has shown himself to be a 21st century media-robot renaissance man. Sing, program, video, and can pull it all together admirably. He's been a one-man pro-robot advocate and as such will be one of the last destroyed during the machine uprising."
--- Mark Tilden, Robotics Physicist and inventor of the best-selling Robosapien line of robots distributed by WowWee, Ltd.
"Robert is one of the few developers who really understands the future of Robotics."
--- Caleb Chung, inventor of the mega-hit Furby animatronic toy and the Pleo baby robot dinosaur.
(Regarding my Rovio spy robot demonstration with the EPOC EEG headset).
"This is a great demonstration of the capabilities of the Emotiv EPOC. Robert has cleverly integrated several applications with the Emotiv SDK to provide a remote roving security robot under full hands-free control of the user. The application takes advantage of encrypted remote internet control and video acquisition using Skype to provide a secure and foolproof link to the robot, which could be in your apartment, inside a nuclear reactor or even on Mars (expect a bit of transmission lag for your Martian robot)."
--- Tan Le, CEO of Emotiv Systems Inc.
"Robert has a been a great supporter of WowWee's consumer robot products over the years. His program Robodance is an impressive software program that really highlights the features of our best-selling line of robot products, and also makes them easier to use. In addition, he has an unusual knack for getting the praise and attention of the top gadget blogs and web sites like Gizmodo, Engadget, SlashDot, and many others who have covered on numerous occasions his video reviews and high tech demonstrations involving our products. His best work though has been with Rovio, our WiFi enabled mobile spy cam robot, a revolutionary product for home telepresence. His recent video, where he used the Emotiv EEG headset to pilot a Rovio remotely over a Skype video call using only his thoughts and facial gestures, has become an instant favorite with us."
--- Amy Weltman, VP Marketing, WowWee USA Inc.
In May of 2005 version 2 my Robodance software program won the coveted “Project Of The Month” award from SourceForge.net, the largest open source repository in the world. Out of thousands and thousands of software projects, SourceForge awards just one of them the Project Of The Month award for the current month. Note, Robodance 5 is not open source.
Quotes about Robodance
“Amazing i-SOBOT & WiiMote Mash-up (Video)”
--- Lem Fugitt, one of PC Magazine’s favorite bloggers in his post about the Robodance 4 sneak peek video I released late last year.
"In my opinion this (Robodance, my software program) is the gold standard that all other PC based control programs should seek to emulate."
--- Jamie Samans popular book “The Robosapien Companion”, pp. 211
"Using Emotiv's SDK and his own Robodance software, RobotsRule resident mad scientist Robert Oschler hacked together a system that allows him to use the headset to control the robot remotely via Skype. We can't find a good reason to put this all together except one: it's totally awesome."
--- Matt Hickey, Crave blogger at C|Net and also a writer at Gizmodo.
"You've seen Rovio hackery before, but not like this. Not with MIND CONTROL and Skype both involved. In regards to my Robodance software and the Rovio spy robot."
--- Kat Hannaford staff writer at Gizmodo.
- (20 days)