Monday, 13 March 2017

MEET ROBI: THE INTERACTIVE ROBOTIC COMPANION THAT SPEAKS MANGLISH


Robi by DeAgostini is a build-it-yourself robot that aims to bring families closer together

ROBI, possibly the first ever robot able to speak Manglish, arrived in Malaysia last Friday with the launch of the Robi partwork magazine and online store by DeAgostini. Robi is a fusion of sophisticated design and advanced Japanese technology that was designed to provide interactive bonding experiences for the entire family. Providing an in-depth understanding of how Robi works, an educational magazine along with instructions and model parts, can be collected over the course of 70 issues, or ordered online. Families and robotics enthusiasts can look forward to assembling Robi with their own hands.

From 10 to 12 March, families can learn more about Robi’s cute and amusing behaviours at a roadshow in One Utama Shopping Centre. Professor Tomotaka Takahashi, the creator of Robi, will be on site to introduce ROBI to visitors during the roadshow. To celebrate Robi’s debut in Malaysia, there will be a special performance featuring 100 Robi robots in a synchronized dance. Building on the theme of “ASSEMBLE ROBI, UNITE A FAMILY”, the event will also provide opportunities for families to get acquainted with Robi through hands-on experiences at the interactive stations, and have their photos taken at a Robi-themed photo booth. There will also be various giveaways, competitions with prizes give away including; kids drawing contest, Robi assembly game and an autograph session by Professor Takahashi.

Speaking at the official launch, Hajime ‘Jimmy’ Murano, Chief Executive Officer of DeAgostini Japan, “We are very happy to be bringing ROBI to Malaysia. Robi was first introduced in Taiwan, followed by Hong Kong, China and last year in Singapore. Ever since its launch, it has been very well received and has received a lot of positive feedback. In 2014, it became the top grossing magazine in Taiwan. Today, there are a total of 130,000 assembled Robi robots worldwide, making it the world’s best-selling multilingual humanoid robot.”

Jimmy continued, “We, at DeAgostini, believe in turning ideas into innovative products and services thus, creating value focusing on the well-being of our family, in this case, our staff. We hope that Robi will bring joy and happiness to everyone and most importantly, in a technology driven world, we can put aside our gadgets and enjoy each other’s company while assembling Robi together.”  

Incorporating cutting-edge robotics technology from Japan, Robi has become the bestselling humanoid robot worldwide. He can communicate with users, even expressing emotion through the colour of his eyes. He can talk, sing, dance and control selected household appliances. He has an extensive vocabulary of more than 250 phrases, providing a deep level of interaction between humans and robots. The specially designed Malaysian version of ROBI has also been programmed to speak some Manglish phrases, as well as English, Malay and Chinese.
“I truly believe that artificial intelligence and the creation of responsive robots can bring tremendous benefits to people and society, and I dream of fostering closer relationships between robots and human beings. We’re excited to introduce Robi to Malaysia, and hope to inspire the next generation of Malaysians to harness technology to improve the lives of citizens and build stronger communities.” Professor Tomotaka Takahashi

Aside from providing assembly instructions, the magazine available weekly at leading retailers, will also include educational materials to teach children more about the field of robotics. ROBI has also been designed so that no prior skills is needed by either adult or children to assemble. The only tool required is a screwdriver that comes along with the magazine. As digitization goes mainstream and becomes more advanced, the hands-on learning experience from building Robi will provide children with the opportunity to understand the basics of robotics technology.

As one of the world’s leading robotics scientists, Professor Takahashi created Robi exclusively for DeAgostini. His keen interest in robotics grew from a young age, when he patented his first invention while he was still a student, and founded Robo Garage – a robotics group based in Kyoto University -  upon graduation. Professor Tomotaka is responsible for many key developments in robot design, bringing to life Kirobo, a 3.5m-tall earthquake rescue droid, and he has even put the world’s first humanoid robot astronaut in space in 2013.

The first issue of Robi is now available at a special rate of RM24.90 and will then retail at RM74.90 per issue at the following retailers; 7Eleven, Borders, Cold Storage, Hamleys, Jason’s Food Hall, Kinokuniya, Mercato, MPH Bookstores, myNEWS.com, Pansing, POPULAR, RadioShack, Times and WHSmith. It is also available for purchase online at http://www.myrobi.my/

Members of the public can visit the roadshow from 10 to 12 March at Highstreet, One Utama Shopping Centre. The first issue will be available at the event at the promotional price of RM24.90. Customers who subscribe online will also enjoy a promotional 10 % discount  – Pre-order and more details can be found on the Robi online store http://www.myrobi.my/

Key Features and Functions of Robi:
  • Dimensions: Height: 34 cm – Weight: Approx. 1kg
  • Light-up LEDs: Built-in LEDs allow Robi’s eyes and mouth to respond to words and movement. His eyes can glow red, yellow, green and blue, while his mouth will glow red.
  • Speech-recognition Board: Robi has a sophisticated speech recognition board programmed to understand different phrases and reply appropriately. The Singapore version will be able to speak English, Chinese and Manglish.
  • Microcontroller Board: The high-performance microcontroller board controls important functions such as Robi’s motion and reactions.
  • Speaker: Robi’s chest includes a miniature speaker for his spoken responses.
  • Remote-control Module: Emits infrared signals like a remote control to operate compatible TV sets.
  • Motion Sensors: Robi’s motion sensors detect human presence and will turn his face in response to movement.
  • Servo Motors: Robi’s movements are controlled by a total of 20 servos. They use the Robi-servo command system to ensure smooth movement, and have simple, robust wiring connections.
  • Dual-purpose ‘Scarf’: Robi’s light-blue scarf functions as a convenient handle for lifting him without damage to his joints and internal wiring.
  • Timer: Robi can count down a specified number of minutes, and tell you when the time is up.
  • Cleaning: Robi can use his feet to polish a tabletop or hard floor surface.
  • Security Setting: Robi can be set to ask for a password and respond with an alert if he gets the wrong answer
  • Games: Robi knows how to play a variety of games, including ‘soccer’ and quizzes.
  • Battery Charging: When Robi’s batteries begin to run low, he says ‘I’m hungry’ to let you know. Then it’s time to turn on his charging seat, so Robi can start to recharge.

Robi is suitable for kids above the age of 6. Parental supervision is recommended for younger children as there are small parts.


ABOUT DEAGOSTINI EDITORE S.P.A
Geographer Giovanni DeAgostini founded his mapping company in Rome in line with the 1901 establishment of the Association of Geographical Societies. Within 100 years, the company has risen to become a world-recognised producer of diverse cutting-edge publications, capturing more than 50% market share of part work globally.

Today, DeAgostini Editore S.p.A has extended its reach to 33 countries all around the world, continuing to be a pioneer and leader you can trust.

PROFESSOR TOMOTAKA TAKAHASHI, THE CREATOR OF ROBI
TomotakaTakahashi is the Chief Executive Officer of ROBO GARAGE.Co.,Ltd, established since April, 2003 to develop robot technologies in Osaka, Japan. He creates, designs and invents unique and original humanoids (Ropid, FT, Chroino, Neon).

Inspired by his childhood obsession with Astroboy and other fictional characters, Takahashi decided to study robotics after completing a sociology degree. Takahashi prefers to work on smaller robots, as they are easier to handle and people have more realistic expectation of them. Unlike machines, which are cold and uninviting, humans can relate to robots because they have bodies like humans or animals, which opens up new possibilities for communication, which Takahashi believes is their greatest strength.

His goal is to create robots with exaggerated movements, and to do that he prefers small, tough servos with metal gears, using the best hardware he can afford. The form, or outer shell, can be made in two ways: traditionally-sculpted molds which are vacuum sealed, or through the use of CAD software and a rapid prototyping machine (3D printer technology).


He is also Associate Professor at Tokyo University, Research Center for Advance Science and Technology. Visiting Professor at Osaka Electro-Communication University, Faculty of Information Science and Arts, Department of Computer Science. Advisor for Human Academy Robot School.

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