Business

Demo: With OLogic, your iPhone can power a two-wheeled, music-playing robot

NOTE: GrowthBeat -- VentureBeat's provocative new marketing-tech event -- is a week away! We've gathered the best and brightest to explore the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the full scoop here, and grab your tickets while they last.

If you dream of robots and wake up to your smartphone, have we got a treat for you: robotics company OLogic is launching the AMP (that’s Automated Music Personality), a two-wheeled, self-balancing, musical robot powered by your smartphone or MP3 player.

AMP will follow you around and play your favorite music for you. You can attach an iPod or other digital music player to its back, or you can stream your tunes directly to the robot over Bluetooth from your phone. The AMP also comes with mobile apps for iPhone and Android to control the bot (with a virtual joystick) and your music.

The bot is around three feet tall and comes with a woofer in his chest, tweeters in his shoulders, and music-making gadgets attached. It also has a “follow me” mode if you’d like the little guy to trail you throughout your day.

“He is the ultimate phone accessory,” said OLogic co-founder Ted Larson. “It’s a simple formula: Inexpensive robot platform plus smartphone equals powerful consumer robot. Our products are going to change the way the world views a consumer robotic product offering.”

And by “inexpensive,” a source close to the matter says he means around $400, less than you might pay for a tablet.

Larson is a computer software and electronics expert with more than 25 years of experience designing and building commercial software applications. Previously, Larson founded a startup, Urbanite Network, and before that, he worked at Hewlett-Packard, Iomega and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He graduated with undergraduate and master’s degrees in computer science from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo.

His OLogic co-founder, Bob Allen, has spent the past 40 years in the electronics and mechanical professions. Previously, Allen acted as a design and implementation consultant in Silicon Valley for 20 years. He also held positions at Intel Corporation, Lucasfilms and Pixar, where he helped create Pixar’s first multiple-processor rendering computer.

So why would these two brainiacs decide to work on a little free-wheelin’ music bot?

“We love robots!” said Larson.  He’s hardly alone in that, and robot-loving is hardly the domain of ivory tower academics and lab coat-clad researchers. Larson told us his market extends to “technophiles, teens and twenty-somethings, and pretty much anyone of all ages with an interest in robots.”

OLogic itself is an embedded systems research and development company with a focus on robotics. Specifically, OLogic focuses on bringing robotic technologies to life in toys, consumer electronics, defense and medical products, and other practical applications.

The OLogic team is hired for R&D work because, as they explain it, most larger companies don’t have the in-house expertise for robotics, so they outsource the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, this can lead to poor results and undermine the innovation and quality of those companies’ robotics work.

However, AMP cuts through toy companies and other large manufacturers and gets straight to the consumer with an interest in robots. OLogic says it wants to revolutionize consumer robotics with smartphones. Be on the lookout for more phone-powered bots with different features and functionality in the near future.

The company is actively raising its first institutional investment round. The funds will specifically be used “to bring an entire line, of compelling, consumer robotic product offerings to market,” said Larson.

Here’s our onsite interview with Larson and Allen at DEMO:

OLogic is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2011 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

Image courtesy of randomskk.


We're studying digital marketing compensation: how much companies pay CMOs, CDOs, VPs of marketing, and more, with ChiefDigitalOfficer. Help us out by filling out the survey, and we'll share the results with you.