Companionship is an important part of life, and for many, a pet can be the perfect companion. However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone can or will have a pet. Some people have allergies, some are scared, and others live in a controlled environment. In these cases, and others, an artificial companion can help overcome the challenges. Macroact has a robotic cat, Maicat, to help fill this void.
Macroact is a robotic startup which is combining artificial intelligence with robotics but focuses on very specialized markets. The first of their adaptive robots, Maicat, is a companion robot that is designed to behave and interact like a cat. This is done without sending the robot into the uncanny valley, so it is compelling and cute.
While other companion robotic animals have been created before, Maicat separates itself in size. It is about two-thirds the size of its competitors, making it a more manageable device. In addition, Maicat features autonomous motion control and 21 actuators, allowing it to interact with the people and objects around it more similar to a real cat. Thanks to its integrated environment detection system, it is also able to know its environment and avoid obstacles in its path.
Like a real cat, Maicat learns from your unique interaction with it, including using voice and facial recognition and sentiment analysis, and determines the perceived intent, both positive and negative, of each action. The robot also develops its own unique emotional rhythmic cycle and uses that to respond to external stimuli with each interaction. This means that, like a real cat, each time you interact with it, the experience will be different. This will obviously make the experiences more diverse and fun.
One clear use for this technology, as pointed out by Christopher Jordan, is for helping to teach a younger child about pets. Rather than the child learning the hard way through scratches or bites that certain activities are inappropriate, Maicat can help instead. To learn more and find out when it becomes available, check out the company's website.
Interview by Christopher Jordan of The Talking Sound.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.