Posted in | Cybernetics

OhmniLabs' New Home Robot Helps Families Stay Connected

Silicon Valley-based robotics startup, OhmniLabs has introduced a new home robot called Ohmni, which is better than other video chats and allows families to connect in a more natural and engaging way. The robot will soon be available at an introductory price of $1,399 — $500 off the MSRP — during the crowdfunding campaign.  

A new approach to telepresence, Ohmni has been particularly developed for homes and families. The robot makes it natural and easy to connect and share experiences like movie night, family dinner, cooking with mom or game day with dad— across any length of distance.  When the OhmniLabs team analyzed families across the world, they discovered that the most important thing people missed was these meaningful, "shared experiences". This is because a typical video chat is too awkward and do not allow for richer interactions.

Keeping simplicity in mind, Ohmni was designed from the ground up. The Ohmni can be easily set up by simply unfolding it, pressing the power button, and connecting to the home Wi-Fi. Users can share access by inviting friends and families through their Facebook account, Google, or email address. They can use Chrome browser on an Android/ Mac/PC device to connect to the Ohmni robot from anywhere in the globe. Users can interact freely by controlling the robot with the keys, touch controls, or trackpad.

Families today are often spread out across countries and continents, making it a challenge to stay in touch. We created a robot that people can use everyday to not only communicate but experience life together. The possibilities are endless. I use Ohmni with my grandma in Vietnam and it's amazing how natural our interaction is.

Thuc Vu, co-founder and CEO of OhmniLabs.

OhmniLabs, unlike other telepresence and robotics companies, uses a scalable additive manufacturing process to construct each robot locally in its facility, based in Santa Clara, California. The scalable additive manufacturing process has been tested and tuned in the last couple of years. All Ohmni robots are made to order and uses materials like brushed aluminum and bamboo to develop a robot that families would be proud to have it in their homes.

Ohmni enables users to enjoy shared, meaningful experiences with the following features:

  • Quick setup - Arrives fully assembled and ready to go. Simply unbox, unfold, and link to WiFi.
  • Hands-free experience - Controlled remotely with integrated autodocking to the charging station. Seniors no longer have to fuss with a tablet or computer.  
  • Zero hassle calling - There is no need to create any account, no need to install software. The cloud backend from OhmniLabs integrates with Facebook and Google authentication, making it easy to share the robot with friends and families. Using a web browser, users can call with a single click from any PC/Mac/Android device.
  • MotionMap (TM) technology- Tightly built-in software and hardware enable users to use either the touchpad or mouse to directly control the neck and body of the robot.
  • Ultra-responsive tilting head - Improves and amplifies presence and freedom of interaction. Ceiling-to-floor vertical tilt with fluid motion captures the users’ dynamic gestures.
  • Glide Drive technology - Whisper-silent brushless motors allow ultra-smooth motion on all surfaces.
  • Open platform- Cloud programmable using OhmniAPI, and also integrates with Amazon Alexa API.
  • Lightweight and portable - Weighs just 20 lbs and folds in half for convenient transportation. Users can bring it to a family gathering or take it out on the deck.

To get user feedback, OhmniLabs carried out a pilot program over the last six months with families that have elder people living far away. The ease of connecting and sharing on a daily basis has been shown to be helpful for these families, who provided a positive feedback. The pilot program was recently published in the New York Times Retiring section.

Asking my mom to drag out the iPad every time we wanted to video chat felt like a huge burden. We always love watching TV together in person. Now Ohmni lets us do just that -- from 8,300 miles away!  It was the first thing we did when we received our robot. The smile on my mom's face was priceless and it's a great feeling to bond like that again,.

LCpl Andrew Lyle, US military personnel stationed in Japan

In addition, Ohmni was developed as an open and extensible platform via a cloud programming API called OhmniAPI, which allows programming robots as fast as developing web applications. Businesses and developers alike can build custom integrations in addition to the full telepresence experience, the low level hardware, or the Ohmni software stack. When not in a call, the Ohmni robot integrates with the Amazon Alexa API for general use and home automation.

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