It is good time to play with Social Robots

Social robotics has a research area in Universities for a while, looking into interface with robots that are based around our social cues, or modelling social cues to understand neurodiversity such as Autism. Some great work by companies such Aldebaran Robotics ( with their Nao and Pepper robots have raised the profile of social robotics.

People like Cynthia Breazeal leading on this:

What I find most exciting is these robots are now they are coming into the home.

At the entry level in terms of price, and very well featured, is the OhBot ( This is a  is a kit for a robot head with a Scratch-like interface having face-detection, some speech recognition in the current version; controlling several servos to get facial movement. It has provided hours of fun so far (see the video below). This is a great bit of kit for its price.

Jibo has been developed by a company headed by Cynthia Breazeal. It is not yet released (end of 2015/beginning of 2016) but the videos make it look very interesting. A stationary robot that seems to be about providing a social interface to many of things we do.

A robot soon to be released by Bullfrog Robotics ( . This is an incredible cute robot. 

Related links
It is a good time: 1 Introduction

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with.

It is good time 1: Introduction

I have want to write this for a while, a short series of blog posts on why I think this is in an incredible time to be interest in robots and physical computing.

Three posts in the series:
- Introduction
- Small robots
- Social robots

It only takes a quick look on line to see a vibrant and growing network of people who are sharing and supporting each other to use physical computing to do imaginative things. They might go under different names PiJams, Makerspaces, etc but essentially it is about bring people with similar interests (and those are wide) in physical computing together. That is just, physically, but now adding a on-line community that also shares and supports each other you have something that is worth being involved in. If you are unsure  what I mean by this have a look at some of the following people's twitter timelines:
@whaleygeek (
@ martinohanlon (
@simonmonk2 (
+Carrie Anne Philbin @MissPhilbin (

From a very long potential list

Powering all this (apart from drive, enthusiasm, creativity, inventiveness, ....of the people involved) is a number of small devices. Two examples include:

  • Arduino (see more on these at which are a range of open-source hardware and software components designed for wide use as the basis of physical digital projects (robots anyone?). These are generally low-cost boards and if you go to Kickstarter ( it doesn't take long to find projects and projects that have +Arduino at their core. 

  • Raspberry Pi ( is one of the other drivers of this. Essentially a low-cost single board computer developed (and well supported) with the intention of being used to teach basic Computing and potential used in the developing countries. I think it took most people with an interest in physical computing probably less than a second start imagining potential things that can be done with it - and so they went on to prove.

Ok, so what? Why does this matter? My opinion this area is fun to start with, but if you look at the creativity that is going on; new products (that are a mixture of genuinely new ideas, radical refinements or lower costs takes) are being created rapidly. This is exciting.

The next two posts will be about small and social robots emerging at the moment.

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with.