Most crowdfunded robots fall in one of two camps: Either it patrols the home or is serves as a tool to better teach robotics and programming concepts. The Mimic, though, is a different beast. This rotund little robot combines robotics with elements of virtual reality to create something completely new.
That said, the Mimic is pretty small. At a little under 13 inches, it doesn’t impress at first glance. But the robot itself isn’t the draw, even though it does sport patent-pending technology — but more on that later. The Mimic really shines is when a user puts on its googles, grabs its arm controller, and places their feet on the Mimic’s foot controller. Like this, users can quite literally see what the Mimic sees and change its line of sight accordingly, naturally touch, grab and grip whatever they come across, and move its wheels in any direction. Together, it makes for a brand new experience that’s not centered around security or education.
All of this is facilitated by a pair of 3D cameras in each of the robot’s eyes along with the Posi-Feel technology in its arms that is claimed to transmit sensory information like how soft something is. A maker-focused kit allows tinkerers to push Mimic to new places, something its inventor hopes people will do. $500 buys the maker kit while $1000 buys the Mimic fully assembled and ready to go. Mimic is slated to ship in February 2017 should its $225,000 goal be met by November 11th, 2016.
The Mimic is one of the more original robotics ideas to come out of the crowdfunding world in a while. While still rough around the edges, its potential for immersion is very high — although what someone would do with this remains to be seen. Makers will take to a project like this as moths to a flame: With enough time, Mimic can be tweaked and modded in a lot of interesting ways, making it better suited as a canvas versus a pre-built robot solely for entertainment.