The Friendly Ghost in the Machine

The word ‘robot’ is one of the few words in the English language deriving from Czech, and whose original meaning is ‘slave’, or somebody engaged in boring, forced labour. It did not refer to loveable toys capable of developing the affectionate responses of children suffering from autism or brain damage.

But that was some time ago.

In the winter of 2008, a group of engineers and mathematicians started out along a pathway to achieve a dream, a robot that would be a “new life form” able to empathise with children and adults.

First_designs_600x300They wanted a product that was not cost prohibitive, and supported the fundamentals for verbal and non-verbal natural communication with its users.

They deecided early on to sacrifice mobility for emotional expressiveness and to avoid over-complication in the design, and their initial design idea was a chubby little guinea pig sitting with its arms resting on its belly, relaxed and ready for conversation.

The initial design employed six small servos to allow movement for the mouth, eyelids, eyebrows, and neck (neck tilt and rotation).

The idea of a robot furry animal, designed, manufactured, and assembled in Spain by one of the nearby toy companies in Ibi, Alicante, proved a disappointment however, and so they looked 8,000 kilometres away to China.

They provided extensive detail in the forms of sketches, explanatory documentation, videos, and so forth before the Chinese understood their vision well enough to create a prototype. After two months of collaboration, a peculiar bear was delivered, something that resembled a robotic alien zombie squirrel as opposed to a guinea pig.

Back to the drawing board, to the relief of generations of children not now to be traumatised by their Christmas gifts.

The next perspective was to create something more robot-like, with an RGB light in the creature’s heart and an array of LEDs in its mouth; Iron Man without the iron (or the man).

Finally, in April of 2010, Aisoy1 was ready to devour the market. Then in 2011 they introduced the ability to run applications in an Aisoy1, and by mid-2011 they had introduced Airos SDK, allowing the creation of exciting botapps for the Aisoy1.

In 2012, the second generation Aisoy1 arrived, a social robot with cutting edge technology and a unique price.

Those are the data, but behind the numbers is an international team relying on passion; a passion for building beautiful robots that make life more fun and more simple, a new generation of smart personal robotics to change people’s relationships with the digital world, expressing their own child-like fascination for Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, Dialogue Systems and Social Robotics.

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In November 2013 Robotshop, the world’s leading robot store for personal and professional robot technology, became an authorized reseller of Aisoy products, allowing this Alicante company to reach the markets of Canada and the US.

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