Monday, October 23, 2006

Miuro

I was at a lecture a couple of days ago given by Hisashi Taniguchi, David Aliaga of ZMP and saw a demo of a robot called Miuro. Miuro is a network music player that moves freely around a house. The user with the touch of a button, can record his favourite places for listening music and Miuro is able to move to those places by itself and let its owner enjoy his/her favourite music. It does so in two ways, by an inertial guidance system and also by means of a camera that over a time period constructs a map of a house or apartment. The reasoning for this, what if a kid picks up Miuro and moves it to a different location. This in effect resets the inertial navigation system. Here’s more from the authors themselves:

“We would like that Miuro can learn the user patterns of music listening, so that it can naturally adapt its own behavior to the user tastes. This through the use of a large size database and methods of musical information search in the Internet for example. In Mountain View for instance we understand that there is wireless LAN easily available. Now let’s suppose that there are Miuro’s in offices, cafes homes around the city. We would be able to easily share our favourite playing lists and dance patterns.”

Yes, the robot is capable of dancing, well, more like break dance spinning. However it has an interesting architecture, it has two DSP processor boards and a robotics controller. Kenwood, the company that designed the speaker and audio sub system, had to tackle not with a static speaker platform but with a speaker system that moves and possibly rotates (cross fading the stereo channel comes to mind). This thing is definitely more interesting though at the present time probably less innovative than a Roomba, which will in fact take care of some of the real tedium. However, if the developers play it right this could be a great robotic platform in the future for the open source folks. My biggest criticism, they should have installed a mike into the device given the robot already has built in wireless, that way one could not only play songs from a favorite spot but video blog or podcast from it. With a microphone installed it could also serve as a skype phone but unlike a classic one it’ll come looking for you rather than the other way around. Another plus, a built in cradle for an iPod. I hope the company does open some APIs to third party developers, I can think of at least half a dozen mods I would try out on a Miuro.

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