Convobotics - Romibo Web-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Convobotics - Romibo Web-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

RomiboWeb — A Social Robot Meets the Cloud

One in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30% increase in the last 2 years alone, according to a new report released March 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, Origami Robotics has been developing a socially assistive robot that has been particularly beneficial to children with autism. The robot named Romibo has been assisting in teaching children social skills. Romibo is about the size of a small dog, and is available with either a colorful furry covering or a hard plastic shell, depending on the child's preferences. It has eyes displayed on an iPod touch, which is wirelessly connected to an iPad to control the robot. Control content can be created on the iPad locally or online through RomiboWeb which syncs to the iPad (see more). 

Team Convobotics
Team C0nv0b0t1cs (from left): Danny Brown, Abhi Trivedi, John Lee with the original Romibo prototype (black) and the new version of the robot (blue)

This initiative is a collaboration between Origami Robotics and Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley under the guidance of Dr. Edward Katz. The student team of Abhi Trivedi, Daniel Brown, and John Lee has worked closely with Origami Robotics founders Aubrey Shick and Jared Peters to build RomiboWeb from the ground up. The goal of RomiboWeb is to add collaboration, social, and storage aspects to Romibo. In short, RomiboWeb extents the Romibo platform by adding Cloud capabilities.

Project Description

Originally, content created for Romibo only lived on the device it was created on. There was no method to share or backup this content. Losing the device meant parting with all the valuable content created. Furthermore, content creators did not have a convenient means of sharing content with other caregivers to view and utilize the content. This is where RomiboWeb comes in, as the team implements the idea of Romibo that relies on cloud based infrastructure to access vast amounts of processing power and data. This approach is called "cloud robotics", coined by James Kuffner, Professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. Utilizing the cloud would allow Romibo to offload computation­intensive tasks in future, such as video processing and voice recognition and even download new skills instantly such as speaking Spanish.

The short term goal of the project was to create a web­based application that allows users to access the features provided by the Romibo platform through a web browser; users can create, store, and share Romibo content online Additionally, the team developed a set of APIs that will allow the Romibo iOS app to manage content as well as other data generated through that app.

The CMU team utilized technical skills and agile software development processes acquired through the CMUSV program to build RomiboWeb. The agile practices selected focus on customer interaction, incremental design, and high­quality code. The team met bi­weekly with the project stakeholders to elicit product requirements and demo new functionality in weekly iterative development cycles. As a result, the team has deployed RomiboWeb to actual teachers and caregivers who have been using it to create and share content. Now users can create a palette, reuse on multiple devices, and share with other users.

Romibo in classroom

Watch Romibo in action at Duck Nest Preschool [YouTube]

Future Goals

Origami Robotics will continue to expand the features of RomiboWeb. The future roadmap consists of the following:

  • Data collection from users that can be useful for therapy and subscriptions for RomiboWeb.
  • Original content such as palettes and lesson plans can be downloaded to Romibo and shared.
  • The team also envisions a marketplace of content custom designed for respective areas of therapy such Autism, aimed at teachers and caregivers. Experts in the field of teaching and therapeutic treatment can create lessons and actions for Romibo and make it available to other users of RomiboWeb free of cost or as a subscription based service.
  • Deeper integration with social networks that allows parents and teachers to share their moments with friends and family.
  • Utilization of Cloud Robotics concepts to empower the robot with near limitless computation capabilities that can used in real­time data visualization and analysis.

The team firmly believes that RomiboWeb, with cloud capabilities powering seamless content management and data gathering and analysis, will empower caregivers to more effectively deal with autism.