Monday, August 5, 2013

Raspberry Pi + Robot = RAPIRO!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I am pleased to introduce Shota Ishiwatari-san from all the way in Japan to talk to us about his Kickstarter, RAPIRO: The Humanoid Robot Kit for Raspberry Pi.  Domo arigato gozaimasu Ishiwatari-san.

Thank you for having me.

You’re quite welcome. I know English isn’t your first language so I thank you again for dealing with my questions. RAPIRO is an interesting looking project, can you tell us more about it? {Editing note: Some of the answers have been edited for readability.}

RAPIRO is a cute and affordable robot kit designed to work with a Raspberry Pi. It comes with a Arduino-compatible servo controller.RAPIRO: Looks small, acts large, its limitless possibilities all depend on how you program it.
  • Low cost, 1/4th the price of current aesthetic robot kits.
  • Low cost, 1/10th the price of current linux-powered humanoid robot kits.
  • Comes with 12 servo motors and full-color LED of eyes.
  • Easy assembly. Anyone can assemble a RAPIRO with only a screwdriver, without the need for any soldering.
  • The servo control board is programmable and is completely compatible with the Arduino.
  • Designed to mount the Raspberry Pi and Camera module in the head.
  • Designed to mount a PSD distance sensor and speakers
  • We plan to publish our sample code and 3D data openly for community customisation.
* Kits available on kickstarter do not come with a Raspberry Pi, a Camera module, a PSD distance sensor and speakers.
Why make RAPIRO for use with Raspberry Pi and not just make him a full stand-alone product? What advantages does Raspberry Pi integration provide?

This project started from 2 keywords, 3D printer and Raspberry Pi.
Both keywords were famous topic around me in last year so I developed our robot (RAPIRO) as a good use of both of them.

・An aesthetic exterior
・An affordable price
・An expandability of software and hardware ( We will publish our sample program and 3D data(.stl) of RAPIRO)

I think balance of them is important. We didn’t want a good quality robot with an expensive price or, a bad quality robot with a cheap price.
Development platforms, like Ardunio and Raspberry Pi, are connecting developers in the world openly.I think that RAPIRO will be extended with both Hardware side and Software side in the world.

I think that development with the Raspberry Pi is not easier than other boards. However, Raspberry Pi is cheaper than other boards and it is the most popular.

What are some of the projects you imagine people will make with RAPIRO?

I think RAPIRO is Educational robot kit, it is cheaper and more aesthetic than others.  
The price of RAPIRO will also add possibility that there can be one robot per student.When you have your Raspberry Pi mounted in RAPIRO, the development possibilities are endless. For example:

*If you connect a wifi dongle or a bluetooth dongle to RAPIRO, you could control it with a smartphone or a game controller.
*A wifi-enabled RAPIRO could give you notifications of Facebook and Twitter messages, manage your schedules with google calendar, or tell you today's weather and fortune as your secretary robot.
*If you embed a Raspberry Pi camera module, it could watch over your house as home security robot.
*If it heard your voice with USB microphone adapter, it could respond to your voice.
*If you embed an IR LED in RAPIRO, it could control a TV or a air conditioner.

What experience do you have with Raspberry Pi projects?  With manufacturing and production of this kind of product?

RAPIRO is my first project with Raspberry Pi.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is also famous in Japan since 2011.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

In the updates, I am answering with images and videos  to questions of comments and messages to keep the community engaged.  

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

I did not use any advertising. I am using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.
At first, I sent press release to some medias but then, RAPIRO’s information was spread naturally through word of mouth.

I don’t know how can I use kicktraq for our campaign.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

You need registration of company in the US or the UK, If you are based on the country outside the US and the UK. And you need to make bank account in there.

I think images and videos of the project are important.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Please share the information of RAPIRO for your friends who would be interested in it.
If you want to get your RAPIRO, please be our backer now! Thank you for your reading!

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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