NFC Robot Houses Breed NFTs

These Kazokutchi robot "house" use NFC communication to procreate and produce NFTs.

Cameron Coward
11 months agoRobotics / Communication

Most people understand blockchains and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) as very vague techno-thingies invented by crypto evangelists to confuse the masses. And while there is truth in that, both blockchains and NFTs can serve genuine purposes. Blockchains act as shared ledgers that are very hard to spoof and that can legitimize transactions. NFTs are unique digital items. There was a widespread effort to convince the public to treat NFTs like some combination of currency and bonds, but that has thankfully died down. NFTs, however, are not inherently useless and these Kazokutchi robot "houses" use NFC communication to procreate and produce NFTs.

Kazokutchi is similar to Conway's Game of Life, in that both simulate the life cycles of artificial organisms. But while the Game of Life is purely digital (at least in most implementations), Kazokutchi exists in the real world. Kazokutchi consists of several robots that represent houses. The robots wiggle around their environment and occasionally collide with one another. Each has an NFC transceiver and so some collisions allow for communication. When that occurs, the two houses "mate" and produce a child. Kazokutchi mints a new NFT to represent that child and stores the record in a blockchain.

Kazokutchi doesn't, of course, fabricate new robots. Each robot is just a house (or family) that contains many individuals represented by NFTs. The individuals can die, but a record of their existence will remain in the blockchain ledger.

Each robot is very simple and controlled by a M5Stack M5StickC development board, which includes hardware like an LCD screen. The robots move using vibration motors and/or driven wheels — the newer robots seem to have both. The M5StickC is built around an ESP32 microcontroller that has built-in Wi-Fi, so the robots can communicate their activity to the central server.

There is a Kazokutchi website where you can watch a live stream of the robots in action, as well as the results of their mating. The website also lets you buy houses, rent a "space" in a house, purchase viewers, and so on. That means that Kazokutchi is another attempt to make money with NFTs. But at least it is more interesting than an illustration of a gorilla.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
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