A mobile, Android A/V robot on Kickstarter called the “Keecker” offers surround sound, a pico projector, a panoramic camera, sensors, and 1TB of storage.
The word “robot” is never used on the Keecker Kickstarter page, but the device rolls around like other household bots. The Keecker navigates with the help of smartphone instructions, as well as a mix of ultrasound, gyroscopes, magnetometer, and both a 3D depth camera and a 360-degree HD camera.
Still, it’s probably more accurate to call it a mobile multimedia server, as it integrates surround sound wireless speakers, an HD-ready, 1,000-lumens pico projector, and 1TB of storage. With its camera, as well as motion and noise sensors, the 40 x 28cm Keecker can also act as a surveillance system.
Keecker projecting at 1000 lumens
(click image to enlarge)
The Keecker may even have a future as a home automation hub, as it integrates air quality, humidity, and temperature sensors. The device does not currently connect to other smart devices, however, so while you can remotely check your home’s vitals or view a remote video feed, you can’t control anything but the Keecker itself.
Whatever the Keecker is — the developers call it a “Homepod” — it would appear it’s heading to market. The project has surpassed its $100,000 Kickstarter goal. You still have through Nov. 18 to try to get in on some more Extra Early Adopter packages at $2,490, as well as 30 slots at $2,990, and 50 packages at $3,990. When it ships in May 2015, the device will be prepared for a commercial launch, selling for around $5,000.
For that money you could buy a bunch of Lenovo’s at $500, which feature a pico projector, and scatter them around the house, That would still leave you cash to buy a $100 home automation hub and a Dropcam camera to fill in the feature mix. (Ashton Kutcher designed the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro tablets.)
Keecker on the move
(click image to enlarge)
On the other hand, we’re intrigued with this egg-shaped jack of all trades, and assuming the speakers and pico projector are as good as promised, it might well be worth it at one of the early bird prices. The main buying consideration — aside from lack of funds — could be the flatness of your floor surface, and how much clutter you tend to spread around as potential obstacles. Cats, dogs, and rampaging four year olds should also have fun with this little guy.
The Keecker has no touchscreen or voice controls, and doesn’t currently speak for itself. Instead, you control it with your Android or iOS app via WiFi. Unlike Softbank’s Aldeberan-built Pepper, it won’t track or respond to your emotions, and unlike the SaviOne hospitality robot, it will not carry stuff around for you.
But then again, it’s not really a robot — it just looks like one.
The device runs Android 4.4, as well as just about any Android app, on a Freescale i.MX6 Quad with four 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 cores. There are no ports, just WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 and Bluetooth LE 4.0.
The pico projector is the main event here, and it looks like a good one. It offers a 90-degree vertical adjustment, as well as a 1000-lumens image, 16:10 aspect ratio, 6000:1 contrast ratio, and the ability to play HD movies. The Keecker is said to project a 40-inch screen from two feet away. By comparison, most mobile pico projectors are simpler devices with less than 100 lumens.
Keecker closeups: camera (left) and pico projector
The six 25W speakers provide surround sound, compared to, for example, the dual 8W speakers on the highly rated sound system found on Mr. Kutcher’s Yoga tablet. You also get a 30W woofer. The device can act as a wireless speaker, and can stream sound to other speakers via Bluetooth.
(click image to enlarge)
The 360-degree fisheye camera can record video, with an onboard mic providing sound. Capture quality is not detailed, however. The Keecker has a battery that is said to last for up to days at a time. When it runs out, the bot returns to its wireless charging base where charging takes about two hours.
Keecker, the company, is hoping to lure developers with an “open” software development kit. The SDK will let developers “create new apps and customize Keecker with features such as movement, sensors and flexible projection,” says Keecker. Maybe they can even turn the thing into a home automation hub.
Specifications listed for the Keecker include:
- Processor — Freescale i.MX 6 Quad (4x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.2GHz)
- Storage — 1TB HDD
- Wireless — 802.11b/g/n with WiFi access point; Bluetooth 2.0 and BLE 4.0
- 1000-lumens LED with 20,000 hours of life
- 90-degree floor to ceiling adjustment
- 720p or 1080p HD displays
- Native 16:10 aspect ratio (also supports 4:3, 16:9)
- Short throw display projection lens for wide image up close
- Auto and manual focus, with automatic keystone correction
- 6000:1 contrast ratio
- 360-degree surround sound speakers
- 6x speakers @ 25W each
- 30W woofer
- 2x mics with echo cancellation
- Camera — 360-degree fisheye camera; 3D camera for distance and movement
- Sensors — Ultrasound, IR, cliff, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, light, temperature, humidity, air quality (including CO2)
- 2x motorized wheels
- 2x directional free-wheels
- 2x silent electric engines (<25db at max speed)
- AC 100V to 240V supply
- Li-Ion battery for up to days of life
- Recharge base with wireless and contract-free induction charging
- Other features — “Ultra silent” internal fans
- Weight — 12 k (26 lb)
- Dimensions — 40 x 28cm (16 x 11 in.)
- Operating system — Android 4.4; supports smartphone control via Android 4.2+ or iOS6+, or via web browser
The Keecker is available through Nov. 18 on Kickstarter, starting at $2,490 or $2,990, with shipments due in May 2015. Commercial pricing is expected to be about $5,000. More information may be found at the Keecker Kickstarter page or the Keecker website.