TangibleFuture's LOOI Turns Smartphones Into Ambulatory Companion Robots with ChatGPT Support

Doubling as a roving wireless charger, the LOOI platform converts smartphones into friendly gen AI-linked companion robots.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoRobotics / Companion Bots

Self-described "interactive innovation" firm TangibleFuture is crowdfunding for a kit designed to turn a smartphone into an ambulatory companion robot — complete with a link to OpenAI's ChatGPT large language model for natural-language interaction.

"We began with a dream, that everyone who wants their own robot can afford one," TangibleFuture's Xiohui Zhang says of the project's origin. "LOOI transforms your phone into a quirky cyber-creature through a magnetic connection, allowing him to come to life like a little being from another galaxy. With simple gestures, LOOI injects excitement into every moment, revolutionizing your desk presence in one delightful package. He’s your most entertaining and intimate companion."

The LOOI aims to turn smartphones into companion robots, tapping into their displays and cameras for a flexible friend. (📹: TangibleFuture)

The LOOI robotic platform itself is a small wheeled robot featuring touch sensors, obstacle sensors, a time-of-flight (ToF) distance sensor, cliff sensors to prevent it wandering off an edge, and LED headlights with an RGB LED bar for more flexibility. These aren't the gadget's primary output, though: that's your existing phone, which connects to a magnetic mount point doubling as a Qi-compatible wireless charger.

"LOOI not only enhances your primary phone's capabilities but also gives your idle phones a second life by transforming them into lively desktop robots," Zhang says of the potential for upcycling otherwise-unwanted smartphones. "This could be the coolest way to reuse old phones today."

Once connected, LOUI uses the phone as a display for animated eyes, the camera for object tracking, gesture recognition, and facial recognition, and for a growing number of games. To enhance the robot's capabilities, TangibleFuture has linked the platform to OpenAI's ChatGPT — meaning it can respond to natural-language prompts, though at the risk of hallucinations and other unexpected outputs.

The LOOI is now funding on Kickstarter with physical rewards staring at $119 for early bird backers, a claimed 29 percent discount over the device's planned retail price. All hardware is expected to ship in August this year, the company has said.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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