Hong Kong-based Energize Lab has launched a companion robot designed, it claims, to fix "something crucial" missing from the world of robotics: a cute desktop companion designed for emotional interactions.
"Tech and robots are advancing faster than ever to provide information and make our lives more efficient. But, something crucial is missing," claims Yam Hung Tang of his company's project. "Meet Eilik. Eilik is a new kind of robot that brings up a higher level of emotional interactions between humans and robots. He is a little companion bot with endless fun."
The compact robot, which stays put on a circular base rather than wandering around your desk and which owes considerable gratitude to the design of EVE from WALL-E, includes a range of sensors within its rounded body: A touch sensor on the head, one on the back, and another on the stomach, a shock sensor, a physical button, a microphone, and an infrared sensor — while its arms act as rotary inputs.
Its primary output is a single-color OLED display panel, which acts as its face alongside speakers in the head, while a custom servo motor allows the head, body, and arms to move.
"Our team is formed by a group of experienced engineers, designers, animators, and developers. As robot passionists, we have been working hard to make Eilik come true in the past two years, and we are glad that we have finally made it here," Tang writes.
"We chose to launch Eilik first [on Kickstarter] as we believe that this awesome community can give us more inspiration and incredible ideas. We look forward to having you as our co-creator, and let's make Eilik a better bot for everyone."
The key feature of Eilik is that it's not designed to be useful, per se — although it includes handy functions including countdown and Pomodoro timers — but instead to act as a sort of pet with its own emotions. "Eilik has a plethora of inner activities based on four emotional states: Normal, happy, angry, and sad," Tang explains. "Each emotion has a wide range of reactions and expressions."
"Eilik's personality is evolving in response to your interactions with him. If you treat him with love, he will be happier; if you keep annoying him, he will be more naughty than usual."
More information on the project is available on its Kickstarter campaign page, where physical rewards are available starting at HK$770 for Super Early Bird backers (around $99) with shipping expected to take place in April next year.