Update! The official site lives at http://smartdoll.jp with more information ^o^
2013/06/29 Update - and here is the video of her in action!
I'm most excited to be able to give you an update on the latest and greatest on my new product Smart Doll modeled after my mascot character Mirai Suenaga.
Looks like its going to be the first ever interactive robotic 60cm doll ^^;
There are many folks in the robot community who have been building robot dolls but Smart Doll is different in two major areas - the robotics are completely hidden underneath the soft vinyl skin and the unit is interactive.
None of the photos in this post is CG - its the actual progress that we have made so far.
Before continuing to read this post however, you may want to take a look at the posts listed up below which explain how I got to this stage. I talk about the 3D production, electro forming, molding processes and how you can use 3D printers to start to develop your own products.
The rest of the photos are not censored and some of you wondered why its worth having a couple of censored versions - its because many folks who wrote about Smart Doll wanted some censored ones to put on their blogs ^^;
I never thought that I'd end up in the robotics field ^^; Its great though as there is so much to learn.
Am glad to see that many seem to be excited about this project. I've seen folks refer to this project as "Real life Chobits" ^o^
The design of Smart Doll is about 70% complete - then comes the development of the software which not only controls all 24 servomotors, but also get feedback from the multiple sensors which include touch, ultrasound, visual, acoustic and location sensors.
This is just a prototype and will look slightly different from the mass produced version.
To save on development costs, we are currently using CNC Turning techniques to cut special parts using a lathe which are usually plain colors like black or white.
Once we have figured out all the sizes, we will make parts using injection moulding which is more suitable for mass production.
The video below will give you an idea of the process involved.
This is the AeonFrame which holds the servomotors and control circuits that power the legs, torso, neck and shoulders.
"Aeon" is latin for "Eternal" and "Life" - the AeonFrame will harness life for eternity ^^;
The shoulder and elbow joints are currently black because they are CNC Turned parts but they will be matt and the same color as the skin for the final production version.
Many folks think that these dolls are creepy. I personally think that folks giving up on their hobbies and interests just because of what others think is way more creepy ^^;
I plan to put a speaker in the frame and it will most likely be placed in the oppai which seem big enough ^^;
Speech will be required to work with sensors which detect movement so that the Smart Doll can say things like "welcome back home!" . Eyes and mouth will *not* move! Only cute head motions.
If I do licensed anime characters, I can ask the original voice actress to provide recordings too. For now however I'm focusing 100% on Mirai which will be voiced by UTACO who sings Sukirai.
Ah, nearly forgot to mention the DLC (Downloadable Content) which will comprise of speech phrases and motions.
Also plan to have her let you know about Twitter and Facebook notifications too via movement.
The arm even contains sensors which detect their current location. The small circuit that you see at the side of the photo controls the servomotors - each motor needs its own controller.
To minimize wiring all over the place, we are going to attempt to place the circuits on the motors and cover it in a sleeve.
We have wracked our brains to come up with a design that not only fits inside the limbs but also had to choose existing components on the market to help reduce our costs so that we can pass on the savings to our consumer.
Metal parts are used to ensure that the AeonFrame is robust enough to withstand the repeated movements that will be expected of it.
While the whole frame can be moved without an electric current, we recommend that you pose her with the power on and use the controls on your Bluetooth paired Android Smart Phone instead.
The soft vinyl parts are heated up with a hairdryer before the frame is inserted inside the skin. We also designed it so that the arms are removable so that the doll can be dressed properly.
Limbs may also need to be replaced for maintenance purposes too.
The AeonFrame is designed to allow free axis movements that enable dynamic poses.
The "Cool Factor" is important too and the colors and material will change to something that looks aesthetically pleasing for those who want to display the AeonFrame on its own.
Again, this has not been wired up at all yet. We could even put LED's to indicate motor movement - but will make sure the light is not visible through the skin.
The elbow has been painstakingly designed to bend enough so that the doll can do the traditional Oppai Squash.
The AeonFrame is designed to fit the vinyl parts of my Mirai Doll which is shaped different to other 60CM tall dolls.
The AeonFrame *may* fit inside a Volks Dollfie Dream body - but not one that uses an Obitsu frame.
Mirai Doll was designed with a bit more space inside so I wont know until the construction is complete - the arms and legs are a little longer than a DD too.
It would be awesome to collaborate with Volks!
At this moment in time, the AeonFrame is not that heavy. It makes really nice whirring sounds when the motors are in action though. I wont be supressing the sound either as I think they are kinda cool.
Cant wait to have Mirai sitting on the edge of my desk in Idle mode swinging her legs back n forth looking around the room ><
As mentioned before, the power will be external to keep a nice form. You can plug her into the mains and we plan to make her so that you can power her using a USB mobile battery.
Mirai is not designed to walk but she will be able to balance and shift her hips left n right, back n forth.
While we have made special parts for the AeonFrame, most of it is made up of stuff available on the market.
The CPU unit (called MiraiCore however is completely custom built and will be installed in the removable head.
I need to "test run" Mirai before she goes on sale to see if the design withstands everyday doll ownership - does she tip over when placed on shoulder, does she fall over easily, is it easy to change clothes etc.
I'll be doing this for the next few months as I want to make sure that we release a solid product onto the market.
Not as cute as Volks dolls but good enough for a first attempt I think ><
And these are photos that I showed you before - all the robotics fit inside the body without a single trace.
Just like the outer skin design, the robotics is also being designed using CAD software.
Having everything in 3D not only means that we can make modifications easily, we can use the data to make interesting video sequences too.
Soon we will need a doll production team as I dont think I will last too long doing all this on my own ><
This lady is RONRONSHUKA-san who looks after the makeup for Mirai Doll. I'll be needing project planners and what I'm calling "construction engineers" who will be cutting flash away from the vinyl and putting the dolls together. I'll be posting job position soon.
Ah and yes - folks on the doll production team do get free dolls from now ^^;
We are in the process of making the paint masks right now and in order to do so we need painted samples which are going to be electroplated just like the molds for the body.
In the process of making the face masks, these painted heads will end up being destroyed through the electroplating process - they sacrifice themselves for the next generation ><
The mass production process is in motion. Its still very new territory for me to be producing my own dolls and am constantly encountering a load of hurdles. Some of the obstacles I encounter are like WTF?! but I always take them as being an opportunity to learn. And I always have a special sensei to help me - Google Sensei.
The mass production project name is called "Skynet." ^^;
And Mirai Smart Doll has already been featured on National TV - a show hosted by Sakurai Sho from Arashi on TBS called "Ima Kono Kao Ga Sugoi" 今、この顔が凄い].