I’m not certain if I have ever used the whole “Kickstarter Spotlight” in our headline, but I think it is helpful to put some Kickstarter tech projects in the spotlight. This Bots Alive thing is definitely right up my alley.
I figured that it was better to just put the video here instead of showing some pictures of it. You can see that it uses the Hexbug Spider, and this is a toy that I am surprised that I have not covered before. I believe that Radio Shack helped develop the Hexbug at first, but that might be the subject for another article.
Anyway, the Hexbug Spider normally comes with this dinky controller, but Bots Alive really lives up to its name. You can see how the Hexbug Spider avoids the red blocks but is attracted to the blue ones. You can also see that this gives the Spider some very lifelike movements.
In fact, I would venture to say that they almost look too lifelike. You might notice that when it is surrounded by red blocks, it almost has what I would call a panicked expression. It’s like if you were to put a rabbit in a box-trap.
In addition to the markers and blocks, the Bots Alive will have an IR Blaster to allow the user to control the Hexbug Spider. It looks like a little radar dish that plugs into the smartphone itself. There is a companion app that does this, and there is an augmented reality program to “see the world as the robot sees it”.
I had a chance to talk to Dr. Bradley Knox, who has researched human-robot interaction and A.I. at the MIT Media Lab and at UT Austin after studying psychology at Texas A&M. We discussed how this technology could be applied to STEM education, and how the success of Star Wars has helped develop robotic technology over the years.
Now I am told that the Kickstarter fund for this should be starting right now, and I scheduled this post to coincide with it. You should definitely read more about Bots Alive on the Kickstarter page here.