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A peek at Misty, an advanced, programmable home robot that makes faces

A peek at Misty, an advanced, programmable home robot that makes faces
[Photo: courtesy of Misty Robotics]

There’s plenty of consumer robots out there, and a growing number of programmable robotic platforms for the home, office, or school. And today, Misty Robotics, a spin-off of the hugely successful Sphero–the makers of the hit BB-8 toy–unveiled its first programmable robot, a system that is likely the most autonomous and extensible platform currently available.

Known as the Misty I Developers Edition, the prototype robot is a full-fledged platform aimed at developers who have programming chops and a deep interest in creating skills for a general-purpose robot, but who aren’t themselves roboticists. The company is looking for a small number of developers who want to be among the first to experiment with the 14.5-inch-tall robot, which boasts two cell-phone processors, facial and object recognition capabilities, autonomous mapping and tracking, as well as object avoidance, a 4K camera, a built-in microphone and speaker, and a 4.3-inch LCD screen that’s used to display a wide range of facial expressions meant to convey emotion and personality.

Originally, Misty had planned on getting robots to developers in November, and unveiling a mass-produced version known as the Misty II at this week’s CES in Las Vegas. But some technical challenges forced the company to delay those plans, and it’s now showing the Misty I behind closed doors in Vegas.

Each of the $1,499 robots are being made by hand at Misty’s Boulder, Colorado headquarters. As the select group of initial developers program Misty using Google’s visual programming language Blockly, or do more sophisticated coding in JavaScript, the company will gather feedback that will help improve the Misty II, which the company says it will roll out sometime later this year. The market Misty’s entering includes other programmable robotic platforms, such as Lego’s Mindstorms and TurtleBot. But none of those have the full range of capabilities and expressiveness of Misty’s robot–or now at least.

Read more: What Happened When I Tried To Learn Coding From A Robot

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