Crowdfunding

Published on March 9th, 2017 | by Callib Carver

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PLEN Cube, A Robotic Assistant That Is More Than A Schedule Keeper

We are quickly seeing a rise in digital assistant, from Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby, and Amazon’s Alexa. But those, with the exception of Alexa, are all digital assistant, and Alexa isn’t the most portable thing out there. PLEN Cube, from PLENGoer Robotics, is changing all of that with a smart assistant that you can touch, feel, and interact with physically. Plus it’s small enough to take with you.

PLEN Cube was designed by PLENGoer Robotics, an eight-person team, that raised $66,420 so far, on Kickstarter, for the creation of PLEN2, the “world’s first printable open-source humanoid.”

This palm-sized robotic assistant, that weighs in around 12 oz, is equipped to do a lot more than keeping your calendar at the ready or let you know what the weather is like. It’s equipped with both WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity that allows it to connect to IoT. As well two microphones that are capable of detecting where the sound is coming from. Voice recognition software, speakers, and, an electromagnetic field-based gesture sensor that detects the presence of your hand and allows you to program gestures. As well as a full-HD camera that is capable of motion tracking, facial recognition, and panoramic shots.

Possibly what makes PLEN Cube different than other assistants, and it’s the coolest feature, is that it can move its “head.”Just from watching videos of the PLEN Cube you get a sense of personality, and it’s also a bit cute if you will. It reminds me a bit of WALL-E actually.

“We designed PLEN Cube to be durable, portable, and a beautiful conversation piece in your home. We’d like to think the PLEN Cube is simple, elegant — even delightful. Just watch — your friends will love it when PLEN Cube first lifts its “head” to listen and respond to you.” the team wrote on their campaign page.

It’s all built off of the Intel Joule SoM, system on module. A small computer module, not much bigger than a quarter, that not only was developed for IoT developers and investors, but it offers them the ability to expand the module to suit their needs. It will have a thermoplastic shell, with a metal interior body to help provide durability, the team told me.

Atop all the fun personal activities PLEN Cube can do, such as take a photo of you while

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Image Courtesy of PLEN Cube

your skateboarding or while you hike, as the campaign page explains. You’ll be able to check the weather, time, calendar, and update your social media accounts.

Best of all PLEN Cube is a smart device that is capable of connecting to the Internet of Things. It can connect and control various devices like your lights, speakers, thermostats, and your TV.

“Anyone can customize PLEN Cube’s behavior with IFTTT, a web-based automation platform that allows you to trigger chains of actions based on events from your favorite web services.” the team wrote on their campaign page, “The possibilities are truly endless. Here are just a few ways you can use PLEN Cube throughout the day:”

PLENCube schedule

The developers of PLEN Cube will also give other developers access to their open API so they will be able to build onto the PLEN Cube and make it function with other services or devices. They said that they will “be releasing 3D data and printing tips for the outer cover.”

Manufacturing has been a challenge for crowdfunded projects, fortunately for the PLEN Cube team, they have the support and connection with their parent company, GoerTrek. “Yes, manufacturing is a big issue for us as well as other hardware companies. One of our biggest advantages is that our parent company, GoerTek, has top-of-the-line manufacturing technology. We are in constant contact with GoerTek and are committed to manufacture in their factory longterm.” they told me in an email.

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A group of PLEN Cubes being built, while another cube watches. | Photo courtesy of the PLEN Cube team

The PLEN Cube is also supposed to be easy to use, and its settings, services, and devices are all customizable and controllable through the mobile app.

Once their Kickstarter campaign is finished the team will work on getting cubes to their backers and then the PLEN Cube will be available on Amazon, and retail for $449.

If you’re interested in staying up to date with the campaign you can do so on their Kickstarter campaign. As well as on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

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About the Author

Callib Carver is the founder & editor of o7 Magazine. Having spent three years as a student journalist, focusing in photography & video, and working with several small publications, he now writes for his own publication, blog, and is an active freelancer in Washington state.


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