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Hello? Is anyone there?

It has been awhile since we’ve posted an update here. We’ve just been very heads down on development of our companion robot. The age of “personal robotics” is only just beginning and creating one is more challenging than it might seem. Creating such a platform takes much more than PC, tablet, or mobile phone, in part because there are many more components, not only on the hardware side, but also for the software. This new “personal” generation requires more autonomy and more natural interaction, and natural interaction typically means supporting spoken input. While speech technology has seen improvement over the years, it still remains a most challenging form of input, much more prone to error than keyboards and mice. Even in human conversations, recognition isn’t always 100%. Advances in speech input have only set user expectations higher. We are pleased when speech oracles like Siri, Echo, or Cortana get it right, but typically very disappointed when…

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Look Ma, no arms!

My last post was considered more newsworthy than I thought. In a recent IEEE Spectrum article (Hoaloha Robotics Developing Socially Assistive Hardware Platform), Senior Writer, Evan Ackerman made several important observations and comments that I wanted to respond to. “…but we know is that the robot will likely not include an arm at this time, because there’s no way to add one and still hit Hoaloha’s cost target,…” This is true and deserves some further explanation. Let’s start with the cost of components. A majority of conventional robot arms include six to seven servo motors to get a similar degree of movement that a human arm has. While you might be able to buy or build such an arm with basic hobby servo motors, to hold up to the load and usage patterns, you really need something of higher quality with good gearing, sufficient torque, and little backlash. Such motors…

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We do what we must because…

I’ve received a few queries asking about our status. Blog entries are typically posted frequently by their creators, so I am a bit overdue for an update. It’s not for lack of progress, but because of it. We have been so busy at Hoaloha that it has been hard to take a break, but let me try to bring you up to date. First, we did a major shift from our original strategy. Initially I had hoped to focus purely on the software development side of the solution for two reasons: 1) there seemed to be enough challenges here and 2) there appeared to be a number of companies already working on assistive care robots so it didn’t seem necessary to invest on the hardware side. You can read about some of them such as Robosoft, who participated with their robot Kompaï in the recently concluded Mobiserv project in Europe…

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