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Rocky Robots Story

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Our Team Expands

2018-04-02 by Rocky Robots

We are excited and proud to welcome two new members to our team.

Marisa Lee

For finance, investment structure setups and business strategies related topics we now get a great support from Marisa Lee.

Her background is investment banking specialising in business management with education in in finance and fashion. She has experience in strategic projects and will also be heavily involved in our marketing department.

André Betz

In the development department we are excited to have an expert for AI in our team. André Betz with a PhD in physics and more than five years working experience on machine learning and AI research will help us to develop the "brain" of our robots and software solutions. André is specialized in natural language understanding (NLU) and neural networks.

We wish the new members a great start. The entire team is highly motivated to bring our mutual vision and ideas to fruition.

You can see our updated team page here

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Next Important Milestone Accomplished!

2018-01-06 by Rocky Robots

One of our milestones we wanted to achieve was a working prototype based on a hardware device in combination with a browser-based user interface and working communication layer over the Internet. We are excited to have reached this milestone. We are happy to be able to visualize our product idea and vision with an actual prototype rather than only describe them with words.

The Rocky Deskbot Prototype

Our desk-based robot, hence the name Rocky Deskbot, has following demo features:

  • 2-axis movable head
  • Raspberry Pi 3 single board computer
  • Microphone for voice assistant functionality
  • Speakers for sound and voice output
  • LED indicator for visual feedback
  • Two displays to simulate eyes, text or graphical elements
  • Head design with interchangeable face designs
  • Camera for face recognition and camera feed
  • Real-time connection to a user account on the web platform

The Rocky Robots Web Platform

Based on the real-time connection of the robot we have following demo features available on the web interface:

  • Remote control of the head movements with directional buttons
  • Live web cam feed.
  • Management of recognized faces
  • Voice messaging forwarding to the robot
  • Various pre-programmed scripts to animate the robot
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Administrative Milestone Achieved

2017-12-21 by Rocky Robots

While not really fond of administrative tasks, we still have to execute on these things as well. We spent some brief thoughts where to incorporate. Are there any advantages to incorporate in the U.S.? Or is it Europe? Since we started in South Korea we see a lot of advantages being here in North Eastern Asia. We have access to a thriving startup ecosystem, consumers are very open to new technologies and we can find a lot of interesting partnerships in various areas like hardware and software development, financing and retailing.

Rocky Robots Inc. (주식회사 로키로봇)

We are now incorporated as a registered company in Seoul, South Korea. More information can be found on our About Us page

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MVP Prototyping

2017-10-05 by Rocky Robots

Most of our work so far is based on market research and our own assumptions. Now, we want to get our assumptions verified based on a minimum viable product.

Rocky Deskbot

Our prototype is based on the following scope conditions:

  • Humanoid appearance based on a head shape
  • Small form factor to put on a desk
  • End consumer product price range of between 200 USD - 400 USD
  • Integrate a voice assistant (Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa)
  • Web application for user and robot management
  • Remote control functionalities like web cam feed and remote servo control
  • Check possibilities for user recognition based on face and/or speech analysis

We plan to introduce this MVP to some selected test users to get early feedback and base our further developments on their inputs to continuously check our assumptions.

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4 Day Workshop

2017-08-20 by Rocky Robots

During the last few months we gathered a lot of insights and we continuously developed and refined our vision. It was time to make decisions and define our next steps so we focus on the right things.

Business Plan and Marketing Strategy

We like to work with tools like the "Business Model Canvas" because they help us to keep all our ideas under control. On the other hand, we are forced to find succinct and clear statement for the different parts of the business model like problem/solution statments, customer segements, revenue streams and unique value propositions.

After 4 days of concentrated work at a isolated spot outside of Seoul our business plan including fincancial forecasts and a marketing strategy was done. Our business model is based on creating high customer life time value (CLTV) where we see our robots as as a new hardware category and new channel between content providers and consumers. The high modularity on both sides --hardware and software-- will help us to increase the user retention needed for a successful humanoid robots community.

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Teaser Video Rocky One

2017-07-01 by Rocky Robots

The HR-OS1 Humanoid Robot developer kit by Trossen Robotics allows us to test some consumer reactions at an early stage.

Rocky One Awakes (Too High Expectations?)

Our prototype named "Rocky One" comes with 20 servos and we experiment with animating the entire body including head, arms and legs movements. You can get some first impressions in the video below.

Our prototype instantly creates high expectations like "Can he walk?", "Will he grab some objects?" or even "When will he be able to make and bring me coffee in morning?"!

This is something we want to be very careful about to prevent a "dead on arrival" situation with the first early adopters. Consumer expectations are very high and it's up to us to communicate our product development preventing fruststrations. One strategy is to focus on actual benefits for consumers rather than demanding feature implementations.

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Our First Technology Choices

2017-04-15 by Rocky Robots

We spent the last few weeks with researching different available technologies. The main criteria was to choose technologies that help us to get our ideas transformed in actual output. In some cases, the start was promising but then resulted in a dead-end because of lacking documentation, support or insufficient functionalities.

Raspberry Pi 3 vs. Intel Edison

On the hardware side, our options were between these two single board computers. Our choice for the Raspberry Pi3 was mainly because of the bigger community support available on the Internet.

Javascript or Python?

We experimented with some robotics related Javascript libraries (johnny-five) and while we got the first few steps with integrating some sensors and servos we soon realized that access to an active developer community is very valuable to accelerate our development. Since robotics is a very broad field covering a lot of different aspects like computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, motion controlling we chose Python as our main programming language.

Don't re-invent the Wheel

As a lean startup we need to move quickly and since we want to mainly position ourselves as integrators of complex technology, it's crucial to prevent unnecessary development expenses. We already were working on a messaging system for different robot software modules when we discovered the "Robot Operating System" (ROS), an open-source robotics software platform equipped with a messaging system and much more. Now, we are going!

Be Innovative Means Taking Some Risks

On the software platform development side which mainly is a web platform, we are taking a leap of faith and the programming language we chose is Elixir with the web framework Phoenix. Despite being a pretty young programming language, we believe that Elixir has a great future ahead and we see some features that perfectly match our requirements. Key factors for this decision are the great developer community and some already gathered experience with prior projects.

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Executing On The Idea

2017-03-01 by Rocky Robots

An idea without execution is just, well, an idea. Our goal is to execute on all the various aspects related to our idea as much as possible. Here's a quick overview of our action plan.

Our Action Plan

While following guidelines taken from "Business Model Generation" by Alex Osterwalder and the lean startup principle, the ultimate goal is to create a prototype which allows us to showcase our vision and product. Sooner or later we'd like to raise some angel investment to be able to expand our team.

We are convinced to get quite far in a very cost-effective way by executing the first steps on our own.

We set some goals to achieve within the next few months:

  • Research and choose suitable technology for hardware and software development
  • Determine how much we develop in-house or get external help
  • Conduct some customer development research
  • Do some market research and competitor analysis
  • Create a business model based on the business model canvas
  • Start with prototyping hardware components
  • Start with prototyping the software platform
  • Prepare a marketing strategy
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Building a Team

2017-02-08 by Rocky Robots

We are Harry and Mischa, the two co-founders. We met in South Korea several years ago and we share the passion for technology and entrepreneurship. While Harry comes from the industrial robotics field, Mischa brings experience with web-based motivational applications and international IT project management.

An Idea Emerges

We already played around with a humanoid robot development kit named "HS-OR1" from Trossen Robotics and soon realized: "We want to create something useful with this". We called our assembled robot "Rocky" and we also gave him the first head design to make him more relatable.

We know that this technology is quite complex, not an easy feat to create a compelling consumer product. Rather than just developing an expensive toy that will loose its novelty very quickly, we want to create something sustainable and useful.

Our brainstorming brought us to the idea to combine the product category "Humanoid Robot" with the software category "Motivational App". We see the humanoid robot as an ideal trigger device for concepts like habit building and the motivational loop.

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