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New Grumo: What is an Anybot?

Anybot is a personal remote avatar. Basically, a very smart webcam on two wheels that allows you to interact with people and move around at will using just a web browser and the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Video produced by http://grumomedia.com.

Producing the Anybot Grumo: A Geek's dream come true

After Alexis Ohanian promoted Grumo on the Hipmunk blog the first person to contact me to produce a similar video to the Hipmunk one was no other than YCombinator co-founder Trevor Blackwell.

Since I found about YCombinator back in 2008, I have been a fan of all its founders which include Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, and of course Trevor Blackwell.

To discuss the details of the Anybots animation Trevor and I had a conversation on Skype.
To get an idea of how the Anybot functions Trevor invited me to try one of them and continue our conversation right from one of his Anybots.

Trevor created an account for me and sent me to a webpage with 3 thumbnails each representing an available Anybot.
I clicked on one of the thumbnails and immediately the Anybot I selected activated itself.
Controlling the Anybot was extremely simple, I had to just use my keyboard arrow keys to move forward, backwards, or turn.

The Anybot had two cameras, one facing front and one pointing to the ground to help you avoid obstacles more easily.
The user interface had a couple of buttons that allowed you to turn some of Trevor's warehouse lights on and off.

I clicked forward to leave the re-charging station and the first thing I saw was a huge mirror where I could see my Anybot's reflection. Then I drove a little more into a big room full of desks and all kinds of electronic equipment until I reached Trevor.

Original sketch of Anybot uses with actual Anybot on the right (not to scale)

Trevor introduced me to one of his employees and after finishing discussing the details of the animation he wanted me to produce, Trevor told me to go and explore his warehouse on my own.
I drove around Anybot offices for about 5 minutes. I ran into a couple of employees and saluted them, man was that fun!

I saw a door open to the street and was really tempted to take a stroll around the neighborhood and meet the locals.
However I decided not to overdo it and stayed indoor all the time.
Finally, I drove back to Trevor and said goodbye and logged off.

The feeling I got from driving a remote personal avatar is hard to describe. I was so thrilled and empowered at the same time. The first thing I noticed is that your fear of being physically harmed vanishes so you feel more confident when talking to people.
You are there but not really. You can see, talk, and move but cannot feel anything and that really messes with your brain.

I imagine that virtual feeling of empowerment must be very similar to what people feel when they control a 3D avatar online at sites like Second Life or IMVU.

Driving one of the first Anybot models ever built and having the chance to speak to their creator at the same time was truly a geek's dream come true. Thanks Alexis for believing in Grumo!

Anybots started shipping in early February 2011 for about $15,000 US per unit.
To order an Anybot visit http://anybots.com.

Here is a video of one of Trevor's Anybots spotted ordering a scone in Mountain View:

To learn more about this video Click Here.

UPDATE: Grumo gets some love from Hacker News user jarin. Thanks man!

Hacker News Love for Grumo by jarin

UPDATE: (Feb 20, 2013) Double robotics releases a similar robot that works with an iPad for only $2,500. Check it out here - http://www.doublerobotics.com/

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