Smart Doll Plus

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Wed 2015/04/01 17:13 JST in Smart Doll

Smart Doll Plus

It gives me great pleasure to announce our new product - Smart Doll Plus - the future of home appliances!

Smart Doll Plus is a 120cm tall robotic android designed by myself Danny Choo right here at Culture Japan HQ in Tokyo.

Smart Doll Plus has functionality to walk around on her own and pickup objects which she can recognize with her built in AI.
Smart Doll Plus is also connected to the Internet 247 meaning that she has access to any information that you require of her.

We are also working with IFTTT to enable Smart Doll Plus to connect to a plethora of home devices such as Dropcam and Nest which expands her home security management capabilities.

As some of you may know, I've been trying to develop a robotic version of our 1/3 scale (60cm) tall flagship product Smart Doll for a while now.

Our development process is done in stages called "T" - our very first version was T1, second version was called "T2" and so on.
Development costs for each T is approximately 10 million yen - with that same amount, I can build 2 Rotation Casting facilities in Katsushika Tokyo each with the ability to produce 1000 outer shells for the manual version of Smart Doll.

Demand for the manual version is so high right now - as a startup, I need to focus on the manual version to recuperate costs and generate cash flow to keep the company afloat and grow. This is the reason why it has been taking so long to develop the robotic version.

There are many reasons why I have decided to shift the company's focus and continue developing the robotic version as Smart Doll Plus instead. The reasons are as follows:-

  1. Chobits is a very popular anime outside of Japan and many who watched it have written to me saying how a 1/3 scale robot doesn't cut it and that it needs to be the size of Chii or at least half her size.
  2. After Softbank announced Pepper, it was evident that I needed to make Smart Doll walk but with todays technology, it was difficult without her legs looking like tree trunks due to the size of the motors that are needed to move her forward. I wanted Smart Doll to remain smart looking and being 120cm tall, Smart Doll Plus is able to use high powered motors which are already on the market.
  3. Development costs of Smart Doll Plus are much lower - a tenth of the cost of developing at 1/3 scale. Most of the motors at 1/3 scale meant that we had to develop our own servos.

As some of you know, I also do work for the Japanese government and after networking with other ministries, I was specifically forbidden to sell this technology to any military body.
I do however believe strongly that humans have the right to defend themselves so I have programmed Smart Doll Plus to also be able to deal with burglars but deal with them in such a manner that they do not come to harm - I felt it was important to obey the 3 laws of robotics which are:-

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

In order to protect these laws, I have given Smart Doll tools that would only tickle a burglar such as pepper spray, 1000 volt stun guns and portable flame thrower.

The original Smart Doll was developed in 3D using tools such as Z Brush and 3D Max - all we had to do is to scale up the data but up until now it has not been possible to print stuff this big...

...but now we have a 3D printer that changes everything - the ATOM has a huge bounding volume of 42cm x 42cm x 76cm meaning that we can print stuff with dimensions of Ø 22cm x H 32cm.

As a Form1 user which utilizes Stereolithography (SLA), I was never a fan of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers on the market as the quality was just not there. The ATOM however can print at 0.05mm (50 microns) which is perfectly fine for electromolding.

ATOM in the middle of printing the Large Bust part

The problem with Stereolithography printers like the Form1 is that it gets really messy with a load of liquid that you need to make sure does not get on your skin.
Our Form1 kicked the bucket just after a year of use and as mentioned in the review, their customer support is terrible so I gave up trying to get them to fix it - besides, the printer paid for itself in terms of the prints that it did for us so I wasn't bitter.

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers like the ATOM however print sturdy parts with lower costs - a KG of PLA filament is about 30 USD while 1 litre of resin for the Form1 cost 150USD.

With the ATOM - you can remove the print from the platform with your hand and use the part straight away - no need to soak in thinner or wait for it to dry.

ATOM printing the headcap for Smart Doll Plus

I was thinking of getting the Makerbot but that could only manage a layer resolution of 100 microns. Because our prints are needed to develop the actual molds for Slush Casting, that resolution just wasn't enough. I pretty much gave up on looking for a FDM printer until I came across the ATOM at Fancy Frontier when I was in Taiwan in January.

Here is the headcap in place on Smart Doll Plus. Now that she is 120cm tall, her head has much more physical capacity to store removable flash memory.

The ATOM also helps us print the gears too - we set the printer to 100% infill for parts like these - the result is strong and sturdy cog wheels.

If you are interested in getting your hands on one then you can order from the ATOM website.

Here are just some of the motors that we are using and as you can see they are ones that are already on the market - not like the small servos that we had to previously make ourselves ><

How many of you can see what's going on here?

The next step is to sand down the surface a wee bit and then make wax copies for the electromolding process. This time we will use a casting method called Rotation Casting due to the size of all the parts. For the 1/3 Smart Doll - we can only do Rotation Casting for the head and torso as the other parts are too small.

Smart Doll Plus will also come with a Smart Support Socket like her little sister.

Just like the 1/3 scale version, we plan to make Smart Doll Plus out of soft vinyl in Japan at our factories in Katsushika, Shibuya, Chiyoda and Shinagawa Tokyo.

The first Smart Doll Plus will be also be modeled after our Mirai Suenaga and have the same makeup, acrylic eyes and heat resistant wig too. I will release her with the same default apparel that comes with the 1/3 scale version.

I know some people will be disappointed that I'm stopping development (for now) on the 1/3 scale version. But at the same time, I know that there will be a load of folks who will be happy at my decision.
My goal is not to please everybody - as we all know that is the key to failure. But making Smart Doll Plus in this size makes so much more sense and the additional ability of her being able to walk and do the shopping is a game changer.

Development on the 1/3 scale versions have not gone to waste however - we took the same design and as everything was done in CAD - we just scaled everything up and replaced our homemade servos with high powered ones on the market.

There is only one drawback about having her at this size - she is going to weight 16.5kgs ^^
The weight does help her balance as she walks though.

If Smart Doll Plus doesn't tickle your fancy and you would rather have something smaller however then Smart Doll 001 Mirai Suenaga is available now.

If you prefer your girls on the tsun side then Smart Doll 002 Kizuna Yumeno is for you and also available now.

If you prefer your fashion doll to have more Testosterone then Smart Doll 005 Eiji Seiun is the doll for you.