Among the hurdles for social robots is the need for engaging content and development of useful applications. Lantronix Inc. today said that it has supported Misty Robotics in creating the Misty II open platform. The robot, which uses Qualcomm Robotics technology, has built-in apps for education, elder care, and COVD-19 transmission prevention.
“For robots to become a part of our everyday lives, developers need an accessible robot platform upon which to build,” stated Morgan Bell, head of engineering at Misty Robotics. “Working with Lantronix and its Intelligent Edge Solutions [IES] platform, we created Misty II with the performance and development capabilities needed for meaningful tasks and customization for business, home healthcare, and educational use.”
“Lantronix’s role in the creation of Misty II is a direct result of our expanded offerings in edge computing and engineering services attributed to our recent acquisition of Intrinsyc Technologies Corp.,” said Paul Pickle, CEO of Lantronix. “Our expanded strengths enable us to offer Intelligent Edge Solutions that address a wide variety of development and manufacturing needs to support our customers’ visions — ranging from robotics to medical solutions to the fight against COVID-19.”
Lantronix acquired Intrinsyc Technologies, which supports the development of embedded and Internet of Things (IoT) products, in January.
How to design an open platform for multiple uses
Boulder, Colo.-based Misty Robotics said it turned to Lantronix to co-create a robot that could perform human-like tasks with a personality and perception abilities as well as serve as a platform for additional application development.
In addition, Misty II needed to be easy to program and have expandable capabilities. The ultimate goal was to create an open platform so developers from around the world could contribute to Misty’s growth, said the companies. Misty II became generally available in October 2019.
Lantronix, Misty Robotics invite everyone to contribute
Irvine, Calif.-based Lantronix said it used its expertise to help Misty Robotics incorporate Qualcomm Robotics solutions into the design. Misty’s hardware includes two IES System on Modules (SOMs) based on systems from Qualcomm Technologies Inc.
The IES Open-Q 820Pro µSOM is equipped with a Qualcomm APQ8096SG application processor for visual and acoustic processing. The Open-Q 410 SOM is equipped with a Qualcomm APQ8016E application processor running Windows 10 IoT Core for user interface/user experience and programmability. Also included is the Qualcomm Aqstic Audio Codec (WCD9335) for advanced audio-processing purposes.
Misty Robotics said its software uses the Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence Engine for object detection and machine learning, Qualcomm Noise and Echo Cancellation, and Qualcomm Voice Activation. Lantronix enabled Qualcomm Hexagon DSP-based (data signal processor) voice activation for APE-mode keyword detection for the “Hey Misty” custom keyword detection.
Working with Qualcomm Technologies’ robotics and audio team, Lantronix said it facilitated advanced audio and keyword tuning. Advanced audio features for beam forming and noise reduction were key to improving interactions with Misty in noisy environments, it said.
Misty Robotics also used Lantronix design services to develop other software capabilities, including camera management, audio management, and display panel support. The company also helped build audio topology support using multiple microphones and speaker output, inter-processor communication, battery charging, and tuning of noise suppression. In addition, Lantronix said it provided assistance with hardware design reviews and FCC certification testing support.
Lantronix supports Misty development, learning
As an innovator in product-development services and edge-computing modules, Lantronix said it helped Misty Robotics take advantage of Qualcomm products to build Misty II. The platform includes the following capabilities:
- A design with a fully articulating head and screen face capable of conveying an array of expressions and personality and the ability to respond to touch
- Spatial awareness and mapping that allows Misty II to move freely on its motor-driven treads, including the ability to return to its charging station when low on battery power
- High-resolution camera and object-detection capabilities for detecting people’s faces and other visual information
- Far-field microphones and audio processing capabilities that enable the robot to filter out background noise while listening to human speech
- Advanced audio and keyword tuning
- Ability to record video and audio data and share it with other devices or use its screen and speakers to stream data shared by other devices
According to Misty Robotics and Lantronix, Misty II’s hardware and software can be easily modified. For example:
- Misty’s arms, headpiece, and other appendages serve as attachment points so developers can build their own custom hardware for unique tasks
- A software development kit (SDK) makes programming easy without prior robotics training
- Misty is capable of integration with third-party application programming interfaces (APIs)
- Misty can be programmed for unique skills
- Application templates are available from the Misty development community
- Hardware and software modifications can be shared with the community
Potential applications for Misty
Misty II is intended to give developers the opportunity to build meaningful robotics applications. Rather than spend time and effort building their own platforms, developers can devote their attention to implementing their ideas and sharing them with the world, claimed Misty Robotics. Misty’s applications include the following:
- Education: Misty’s straightforward software development kits and hardware customization provide an incredibly engaging opportunity for students to learn programming, robotics and more.
- Elder care: Misty can be used in the growing eldercare industry to promote independence and quality of life. She can serve as a senior assistant by connecting to smart home appliances, monitoring falls and providing medication reminders all while supplying companionship with her convincing personality.
- COVID-19 protection and prevention: Misty can help keep people safe from illnesses such as COVID-19. Currently under development are applications that enable Misty to move through a building to sanitize doorknobs and other surfaces that are frequently touched. Other applications will allow her to question visitors for symptoms of illness and use infrared cameras to check their temperatures for fevers, reducing the risk of exposure.
- Social use: Misty will also have applications that enable her use as a greeter, receptionist, delivery agent, security monitor and more.
“Misty’s most promising applications may have yet to be discovered,” said Morgan Bell, head of wngineering at Misty Robotics. “She has the potential to tap into the imagination of millions of developers who aspire to work with robots, helping shape the future of the industry.”