Diminutive French Robot to Invade our Homes with Dynamic Hand Grip Action?

Bill Loguidice's picture

Aldebaran Robotics - Nao Project: Robotics Android TargetAldebaran Robotics - Nao Project: Robotics Android TargetTo follow up my second technology-related blog of the day after the Sony eBook device, making the rounds via delivery truck on the Internet is news of French firm Aldebaran Robotics announcing the Nao Project.

As we've discussed many times before, the early to mid-1980's featured a type of personal robotics boom to rival that of the personal computer boom. The difference was the computer boom kept on going, while the robotics boom stalled, taking corporate interest with it.

We have however been seeing a revival of sorts over the past several years and hobby robotic kits and robotic toys are hotter than ever. With that said, one of the things missing in comparison to the original boom was a mainstream, low-priced, fully programmable robot that's already built. In essence, a personal, programmable robot. This is what the Nao Project is promising with a 22" Linux-based wi-fi enabled super robot. If you look at the picture, you can see that the intended feature-set is quite ambitious, so IF they are able to build it as stated and IF they are able to release it in quantity, the big question is what will the thing cost?

Unlike videogames and computers, there is no known "magic" price point for a personal robot, especially if it's not in the kit, utility or toy categories. Would people buy this thing at $200? $500? Who knows? Sony's robot dog series, the Aibo, while popular from a niche standpoint and rather powerful, certainly couldn't move enough units at several thousand dollars to keep the project viable for the company. I know this French firm better keep it on the lower end if they want to have success, but with those bullet-point features, who knows? Perhaps they should take a cue from the success of the Roomba cleaning robots and keep it simple, rather than take a kitchen sink approach. After all, even the iPod started out as JUST an audio player...