Monday, January 29, 2007

Holy email flood, Batman.

We've been hit with a flood over the past 24 hours due to the articles on Robot Gossip, Engadget, and Gizmodo, so sorry if we're taking a while to respond to you - we're writing a personal response to every single email, and that takes some time.

One thing we're continuously amazed by are the concepts that people have been proposing for Echoes. Social, medical, educational and business applications, different community groups and locations, form factors, mashups... we're astounded by the creativity of the emails pouring in, and think they're fantastic. Thank you for all your ideas and enthusiasm! The majority of folks still seem to think we're a dating robot, so we'll be writing about other possible applications later on, but for now suffice it to say that we're hoping to make something much more useful than just a toy for finding romance.

Mel (one of our electrical and software engineers) was amused to discover how many people thought all the characters in this picture were guys. She's the one on the far left. From left to right, the others are Echo co-creators Joe, Joe (the same Joe, since Gui was napping and Andrew took the pictures) and Eric.

We've gotten a number of "Who are you guys?" queries, so we whipped out the cameras at this morning's meeting and will be posting profiles soon. For starters, we are...
  • engineers and hackers
  • bikers, lindy-hoppers, and capoeiristas
  • vocal percussionists and political activists
  • anthropologists and mathematicians
  • fliers of both the frequent and stunt-kite variety
In other words, we're social geeks who believe that technology shouldn't be created in a vacuum; life is a lot more fun when you're sharing it with other people.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Echo on Engadget


The day after posting a video of our first prototype, we stumble into the lab to find ourselves on the front page of Engadget via RobotGossip. Talk about a wake-up call! We're thrilled (if a little stunned) with the resulting flood of interest - but we'd like to take the time to clear up a few things that seem to be floating around first.

A couple misconceptions we'd like to clarify:

  1. All Echoes are bears. As much as we love Ursidae, we're fans of other form factors as well. (Gui, for instance, has a thing for baby seals.) The teddy bear just happened to be the first prototype we made; we're working on other animals and humanoids in the lab right now and plan to explore non-character form factors (for instance, an Echo on your cell phone or a conference badge) in the future.
  2. Echoes are matchmakers for the socially impaired. We consider ourselves pretty social people, and we'd like to use them too! As Joe said in our reply to Engadget, we think the real power of Echo is in non-romantic matchings; we'd like to help people find new friends, collaborators, and business partners as well. (However, if an Echo ends up introducing you to the love of your life, that's great - let us know and we'll celebrate with you.)
  3. An Echo is only useful if other people have them too. We're trying to design Echoes so that they're compelling little robots with other functionalities in their own right outside of the local social networking system. There's only a single functioning Echo prototype right now, but people have been crowding around it wherever we've taken it, so we think it's going quite well on that front.
Thanks to everyone for their phenomenal interest and support. If you'd like to find out more about Echo and what we're doing, check out our website at or subscribe to this blog's feed. We're in the middle of development right now, so you can also email us if you're curious or want to talk.


--the echorobotics team (Gui, Andrew, Eric, Joe, and Mel)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

First prototype!

Gui assembled our first prototype today. Someday we'll have to design our own skins instead of cannibalizing stuffed bears, but it's not bad for a first shot. One down, two to go.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Website is up!

Before you recoil in horror at the not-quite-w3c-compliant html (working on that...) let me say that all errors in design, graphics, and coding are my (Mel's) fault. I'm learning webdesign as I put up this site, so please bear with me, and let me know if you have any suggestions how to make this better.

In particular, I know the images are grainy and don't resize correctly (the site is elastic) and the "development" page is quite empty; we'll be uploading lots more content as work progresses, since we're spending most of our time nowadays getting ready for the trip to Japan (to be explained in the next post).

But hey - welcome to our little corner of the web! We're glad you're here.