Robotics startup Press is seeking funding to build a prototype of a "robotic caster wheel," designed to allow furniture in a room to be rearranged at the push of a button.
"Our playful wheel introduces robotics into the most intimate spaces to provide an extension of the human experience, especially for those who need it most," claims Press' Matthew Rowe of the Press Wheel, his company's first design. "Capable of intelligent point to point motion and spatial mapping, the Press Wheel rearranges living and workspaces effortlessly. Press was inspired when a family member struggled to move a chair after surgery. We aim to support people with disabilities or those recovering from injuries and help them gain a renewed sense of independence.
"Press scans its spatial environment, creating a grid map that it uses to navigate to a preset destination safely. Users manipulate the arrangement of their space and create preset layouts to reset and rearrange their environment with the press of a button."
While the company has taken to Kickstarter for its funding, it isn't yet selling the Press Wheel: Instead, it's asking for capital in order to be able to put together a functional prototype capable of simulating how the design carries its load and moves through space. "This round [of funding] allows us to complete the patent process to protect all future IP of software, hardware, and creative development," claims Rowe. "Our engineering partner is ready to begin the development and production of the Press Wheel."
Rowe has indicated that when the Press Wheel does launch, it will be sold in kits targeting early adopters and DIY enthusiasts. The kits will allow buyers to replace casters on existing furniture with the Press Wheel — though, judging by the size of the company's existing non-functional prototype designs, may add considerable height to many.
"Coming from a creative background, I started with visualising the design of the wheel. While researching spherical drive systems, I came across a TED Talk featuring a ball balancing robot, Rezero, created by Péter Fankhauser," Rowe writes. "His innovative design had comparable system features to the Press Wheel, which encouraged me to reach out to him.
"I teamed up with an engineer, Darren Curry, to build our initial prototype and after more iterations, I visited Péter at the AnyBotics offices in Zürich to present our progress. Péter remains an advisor for Press."
Press is seeking $100,000 in funds for the prototype's production, but is offering only membership of the "Press community" and a $100-level T-Shirt as rewards. More information can be found on the project's Kickstarter campaign page.