We are living in the “information age”, whatever that means. Between the birth of humanity and the year 2003 five exabytes of information were recorded by humans. Now, in 2014, we humans record more than five exabytes of new information every two days.
What we think we know today may not be at all certain tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: we’re living in the future. So that you can be ready for whatever the future holds, each week we’ll search high and low online to bring you the best futuristic content from the worlds of science, art & design, architecture, computing and robotics.
Welcome, to #Futurehype. This week, the world’s first HomePod.
Meet KEECKER, The Robot Who Wants To Move In With You
Ten years ago, nobody, not even Steve Jobs, could have predicted the exponential rise of Apple’s notorious iPod design. From niche top shelf product to household name, today it is impossible to imagine a world without iPods, iPads and Mac computers. But what is the future of personal entertainment technology?
KEECKER is a smartphone-controllable robot that moves around your home, projecting video onto the walls. Mentionable in particular, is the fact that it runs Android with Google Play access, allowing you to stream built-in apps like Netflix or YouTube directly into your home.
We talked to Pierre Lebeau, the founder and CEO of KEECKER who is right now working with a ten man team of engineers and designers to realise a dream he set out to achieve more than 2 years ago:
K | Hey Pierre, this must be an exciting time for you guys at KEECKER, How do you feel your time at Google helped prepare you for this project?
PL | First I was a Product Manager at Google for 7 years. Truthfully, Google taught me so much, I could not have done this without my previous experience. Google taught me to work on solving big problems and thinking big, KEECKER is trying to solve home computing for the world, it’s very exciting… The second thing Google taught me is to focus on users. to the User Experience (UX) is key for us at KEECKER. We have an amazing UX designer and I’m working closely with him to design and create super intuitive and simple interactions.
Interesting… If “necessity is the mother of invention”, what was needed in the world that you felt you had to invent KEECKER?
I totally agree with that sentence, I created KEECKER because it was a necessity to me. After years of frustration, I imagined this device one day to give me a computer with a big screen, a great sound anywhere at wanted at home and without cables or having to connect a laptop to a TV or projector, to speakers, finding the remote controls and the charger etc.
Do you think the KEECKER could do for your home what the iPod did for your pocket?
Exactly what the iPhone did to us, humans, KEECKER will do for the home. It’ll magnify it, augment it, make it more fun, interactive and beautiful.
I see. It sounds like a really fun challenge and a lot of work! How did you build your team for the project? What roles do the people on the team have?
It’s super exciting, we’re the only ones to be working on technology for the group/family: everybody else is obsessed with the “self” and super personal technology, we believe people like to share in real life, not just on Facebook…. But on your question, we have mainly software and electronics engineers on the team. Our focus is actually creating an amazing software to make KEECKER work, to create great user experiences and interactions. Since this type of device has never existed we started off with a blank page, that was exciting because we have no limitation or expectations: we are the ones who will set the standard.
Despite looking like a Daft Punk helmet, the design is really sweet, very minimalist – How did you think up the aesthetics of the robot? What can users expect from the software in terms of navigation and user-friendliness?
Design was a top priority. Again, there was no standard, so I imagined a product that would NOT look like a technology product, because it had to be in the home, it had to be beautiful, had to fit into a modern home and look more like a decoration item or art piece. I wanted to break away from black rectangles, and have something organic, natural. The egg was the base, you can’t be more natural than that, and we iterated to come to this. Also a moving object has to be round, it’s easier to move.
But it’s not just in software but also in perception: the device will have no cable: you won’t be able to plug anything into it, all will be done with wireless for more simplicity. It’ll recharge itself, so you won’t ever have to touch it or think about it. And it’ll move super smoothly (the opposite to a Roomba) in the house. We’re also working on different interactions based on where users are, if they can see KEECKER, are in a different room or even away from home
This possibilities for this technology are literally endless! How do you see KEECKER evolving in the future? What is the next step for the project?
There are a lot of possibilities indeed. Voice controls: there will be some, but very simple and basic ones. (I worked on Voice stuff at Google, I know how hard it is to make it work, and right now, even Google or Apple can get it to work perfectly).
Can you see a potential future where your KEECKER talks back to you like SIRI? Can you see KEECKER controlling everything in your home from curtains to coffee?
As KEECKER runs on Android, most connected objects could connect with KEECKER if they want: so yes, it could control your coffee etc, if the coffee machine allows KEECKER to do it. And as for our future: we have a lot of software to continue and create for user interactions. Each new type of device has had its unique interaction revolution (Mouse for the PC, touch screen for smartphones), we need to nail ours for a device like KEECKER, this is how it’ll become more mainstream
You can find out more about all things KEECKER here, Kickstarter coming soon, stay tuned for an update.
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