Kickstarter Spotlight: Botiful

Kickstarter Spotlight: Botiful

Aug 8, 2012

Note: Regular Kickstarter Spotlight author Joseph Bertolini is away this week, and editor Carter Dotson is taking his place. Joseph will be back next week.

The beauty of mobile data and smartphone/tablet devices has been the ability to connect people from completely different places by using more than just voice, providing video as well. Of course, there’s no real way to interact with the person on the other end. That’s what Botiful’s Kickstarter is aiming to do: it hopes to launch a remote-controlled robot for video chat.

Now, what Botiful claims to do is to connect with an Android phone over USB or Bluetooth, and allows the person on the other end of a Skype call to control the robot using their PC or Mac. It has wheels for moving forward and backward, and its head can tilt up and down to adjust the view. This is designed to allow the person on the other end to have a degree of interactivity with the person they’re talking to. The examples given include being able to play with a child, or being able to easily talk directly to specific people in a boardroom meeting. Of course, the downside is that while nobody puts baby in the corner, Botiful can be put in the corner.

What isn’t explained is how exactly it will work to be controlled by the phone. The Kickstarter page says it connects via Bluetooth, but will it use an app running in the background to control the Botiful’s motion? Or will it be able to detect commands via Skype alone? While Skype is certainly a conveinent way to integrate video, is there anything in particular with Skype that is needed for Botiful? There’s an SDK that will allow other applications to connect with Botiful, so there’s the potential for other applications to use this. Imagine an augmented reality game that used the Botiful to navigate around and target enemies, or explore an area?

Those worried about their phones staying on the Botiful will be assauged by the presence of a powerful magnet in the stand that can hold a small magnetic strip that can be attached to a phone (or preferably a case) and promises to keep it on the robot.

The Botiful Kickstarter has had over $68,000 pledged so far, and will end on August 22nd.