Brief Chat with Robotbase’s Duy Huynh

Last week I talked to Robotbase’s founder Duy Huynh about his impressively capable Personal Robot. I was mostly interested in real-world use cases for this mobile AI. According to Huynh, they were expecting all the usual suspects for this new technology—early adopters, hobbyists, prosumers, etc.—when they launched on Kickstarter. But instead they got real-people with real needs.

It was a surprise to Huynh. He told me that one Kickstarter backer, who ordered three of the bots, was a Dallas doctor completely on the opposite end of the tech-savvy scale. He had several offices, limited staff, and initially wanted a way to make the patient waiting experience more tolerable. The Personal Robots would be used initially for entertainment and outreach, and then ultimately he wants to allow patients a way to enter health information.

This makes great sense for doctors, and it’s obviously an enormous improvement over the clipboard. There’s also been interest from a senior community center to use Huynh’s smart bot as an aide—another great medical application. Outside of the healthcare sector, there’s a Kickerstarter donor who’s building an hotel and wants the Personal Robot to do duty around the reception area—greeting guests and taking basic information during check-in.

NYC residents will really appreciate this final case he shared with me. “About two week ago, we went out to lunch with a real-estate broker in New York,”  Huynh said. “He has an interesting idea about a doorman application—a doorman assistant robot. So when someone comes in asking to see John, the robot will call John, who can say or yes to the let the person enter.” Huyhn added that the robot could stream video to residents to let them see the person.

Sure, you can accomplish the same goal with the standard keypad and monitor-camera that most buildings already have. But this bot is not a one-trick pony. It could also, in theory, handle take-out food delivery people showing up—what’s called “dinner” in Manhattan—and then bring the food directly to the apartment. Hey Duy I want credit for that idea!

I did ask Huynh about the navigational abilities of the bot. He assures me it can act autonomously, learning about locations and routes as well as having the image rec capabilities to “understand” some of what’s it’s seeing. They’re still working out the final implementation details.

I’m left even more impressed after our chat. We’ll keep in touch with Huynh and let you know about more real-world bot applications.