Hanson Robotics is looking to bring Albert Einstein back to life. The Hong Kong-based company has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Professor Einstein robot that wowed attendees at CES 2017, looking to raise $99,898.
Professor Einstein, which was named one of the best robots at CES, is a scaled-down version of Hanson’s human-size Einstein HUBO robot – both look eerily similar to the real-life genius even featuring his wiry hair. Professor Einstein is a 14.5-inch-tall, Wi-Fi-connected edutainment robot that walks, talks, and acts as your friend and personal science tutor.
Professor Einstein, which has a 3-hour battery life, uses the Stein-O-Matic app for tablets (Android/iPad) to teach science lessons and play learning games. When you place the tablet next to Professor Einstein, he will guide you through the interactive lessons, which include daily mental kick starts, space travel, time travel and more. It can communicate with you in both online and offline modes.
Sweepstakes: Win a Professor Einstein Robot
“Technology is often now very cold and socially isolating,” says David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics. “By bringing an animated character into our physical world, we’re humanizing the technology instead of dehumanizing the humans.”
You can earn IQ points when interacting with the Professor Einstein robot to unlock special items, bonus games and avatar upgrades. Professor Einstein can also manage your calendar, express emotions with 50-plus facial expressions and gestures, and talk to you about the weather, famous people, food, and math.
Professor Einstein’s personality is quite engaging. He recognizes your voice, tells science-related jokes, and shares science facts. When asking about the weather, for example, Professor Einstein will explain how you can tell the current temperature by counting the number of cricket chirps. Professor Einstein is slower to respond than Amazon Echo or Google Home, but it’s personality should be enough to make up for that.
“Having an emotional connection with a robot is really important when trying to learn something,” says Andy Rifkin, CTO of Hanson Robotics.
Hanson Robotics worked with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the license to Albert Einstein’s likeness, to create the Professor Einstein robot. You might be wondering why Hanson chose to crowdfund Professor Einstein, as there have been well-documented issues when it comes to crowdfunded social robots getting off the ground. It’s an issue Hanson is well aware of and addresses on its Kickstarter page. And it’s a big reason the company brought Rifkin on board.
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“We have completed most of our prototyping phases and have a top-tier manufacturer set up to begin production as early as March for delivery to you in April. Our Chief Technology Officer and inventor of Professor Einstein [Rifkin] has shipped over $6 billion of consumer entertainment/education products and was a senior executive at Mattel and Warner Brothers, so he has a proven track record of bringing mass consumer products to market. We acknowledge that unforeseen events can happen in the final phases of prototyping and heading into production. However, we have full confidence we are making strong progress and need your support to enable us to complete the final stages of the project and fund the production of the product, so we can get it into your hands.”
Credit: Hanson Robotics
According to the Kickstarter campaign, Professor Einstein robots will start shipping to US backers in April 2017, which is an aggressive timeline. Early bird backers can get a Professor Einstein for $249, which is $50 off the future retail price of $299. Hanson also has two classroom packages available. One for $2,490 that will get you 10 Professor Einstein robots and one year of free cloud service and extra games and apps; and other for $9,667 that includes one Professor Einstein robot and a personal encounter with the human-scale Einstein robot in Hong Kong.
And as David Hanson notes in the video above, “Professor Einstein is just the start.” Hanson Robotics was part of the 2016 Disney Accelerator and is currently working on bringing Disney characters to life. Hanson Robotics won’t disclose which Disney characters it is currently working on, but, needless to say, any Disney robot will be a smash hit.
Building Professor Einstein (Credit: Hanson Robotics)