Introducing Alan

fxrtst

USA
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Edit: The failed Kickstarter campaign was from 2015.

In 2022 the Alan components will become part of a Robotics Masterclass I will be teaching in 2022. You will be able to download and 3D print the files or get a kit and build along.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Introducing Alan, the android head robot platform kit, soon to be released on Kickstarter.

First a quick introduction. For those that may not know me. I've been a make up effects artist in the film industry for the past 23 years. Robots have always fascinated me since I was a kid growing up in Ohio and watching Lost in Space episodes. That interest never left me and when starting work in the film industry, I taught myself animatronics. That is I would be called upon to make something move via radio controlled, a puppet, or a toaster or ? As CGI took over the animatronics part of my industry, I focused my free time on using that knowledge for robotics. When I saw prosumer 3D printers come on the market 8 years ago, I knew I could get some of my ideas to the table with out the need for a garage full of CNC machines.

Alan is a culmination of of both technologies, animatronics and 3D printing. When this idea started 3 years ago, I had just found EZ Robots and knew that I could build an interestingly designed kit for everyone so they could experiment with robotics. A platform that personifies how we will interact with robots and androids in the near future, by looking them in the face.

My first challenge was to make sure I leaped over the "uncanny valley". To do so, I took the human dimensions and changed them a bit, eyes wider apart, downplayed high details and added features that were without a doubt not human and certainly robotic in form.

The second challenge was keeping the cost down for consumers. A head like this in the film industry, filled with lots of motions like brow, smile, etc would costs $10's of thousands of dollars. So I built Alan with a modular design in mind. Meaning that the store front will carry modules that will allow you to customize and upgrade the same robot without having to buy a whole new head. As an example the front subskull can be replaced with a module with brow movement, allowing you to keep the entire head and eye mechanism. Other silicone skins will become available different colors and genders, styles, etc. The low cost introductory head will include about 22 parts, easy to assemble, with the consumer supplying servos, power supplies EZB, etc. on their own. My website will include links to all the accessories needed, plus mods like LED eyes, built in audio systems and so on. All the parts will be molded and manufactured in Los Angeles. There will be no pressure injected molding of parts this time around. These are cold cast high impact plastic parts and platinum silicone skins. Alans future may include a full body, if the Kickstarter is successful. And you can certainly use this as a replacement head for InMoov . I will look at altering the open source STL files to be able to accept my heads.

I always knew that the EZB would be Alan's brains. And I will promote it as such. As we all know, DJ's commitment and advancement to the EZB is leading us into the future of robotics.There really is no other choice in my mind. But that's in part because I'm no programmer:) D. Cochran's EZ-AI is a boon to Alans development. I look forward to where David takes it. And although I have it installed I have yet to implement it with Alan for a few more weeks. All of these working together will be highlighted on the Kickstater video.

I have several more weeks to finish the paint job and run a new hero silicone skin. Then there is the very important Kickstarter video. So we are at least 4 weeks out. But I will post here the links to both the Kickstarter and Alans website when they go live and as Alan progresses.

I look forward to your ideas for programming and how you would mod him. I'd also like to hear how you would like to see him develop. Thanks for your time and enjoy the development pictures and video.

All the best,

Will





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PRO
USA
#1  
Not sure how to make this into a project with the slide show at the top...any one with info?
PRO
Belgium
#1032  
hi will

indeed the file sharing is going to be a problem . you wil need a lawyer and a paper that customers will need to sign .
if they share the file there's a fine to pay . it will only work when its legal documented . i would have no problem with ,
singning such paper . and you have all the right to do that .you did all the work for years and nothing is for free except,
for the sun comming up in the morning . the problem i see is you . you are to kind off a person . real businessman ,
are like a sharks , they dont care about other people , only there money . but you are not a shark . robotics is always a ,
chort time that it is interesting for selling . thats why always new stuff keeps comming up . so eather make it legal or ,
take a dive and see what happens . the longer you overthinkg it the more confuse you gonna get . is'n there a global ,
 vote you can do to see howmany people would by alan ? not only here on synthiam but als in stores/shops other forums ?
#1033  
Such a great project,
Will, what servos are you design and how many?
#1034   — Edited
Nomad, 

Quote:

customers will need to sign . if they share the file there's a fine to pay . it will only work when its legal documented
Good luck with that. Locks are for honest people.:(

Locking down rights to intellectual property like the written word, software, music and even the design of mechanical stuff has been very hard to do since we figured out how to copy things. First it was carbon paper, then cassette tapes, then digital now 3D printing. Now people think it's their inherent right to copy other people's work for free. I'm certainly not an expert but personally I see no real way to stop any of this. As far as locking down a digital file, all that is needed to start sharing unpaid for copies is to give a password at the same time. That or some hacker to get into the file and break the protection. Maybe Nomad is right, the only way is to have an authority monitor, watch and step in and severely punish the perp. Sadly then the world slips into oppression and all creativity is suffocated. Double edged sword syndrome. 

@Will, I think your vision and talent is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us. Your choices in my opinion; protect it or give it away. I hope you find a way forward and a way to protect your work. Again, my opinion; I think the best you will be able to do monetarily is to realize limited returns, That is unless you can sell your product in enough volume and at a price point that will offset the pirates. With your B9 silicone rubber arms you are able to offer a product that is very, very hard to copy due to the design and skill needed to reproduce them. There's not too many people that can do what you can do or they don't want to. On the other hand, reproducing digital files are so easy.:(

Sorry for the negative post. Being the Mayor of Realsville is depressing sometimes.
#1035  
I have to agree with Dave's Post the other thing you need to remember is bringing a legal suit against someone also cost money, and takes time.  Once the files are out in the wild you will never be able to stop it.  Look at the Tommy Lee Pamala Anderson sex tape they spent millions trying to get that back are you really ready for that?  It becomes not cost effective at some point.   I think the best you could do is sell it as a complete boxed kit with everything needed like a retail product and sell it on Amazon and hobby shops.  This does not mean it won't be copied by others. It also means you would need cash to develop manufacturing, packaging, purchasing the required electronics to include in the kit. If you have ever looked into having injected plastic molding molds made you know they cost a lot of money.

Anyway I wish you the best while making your decision!
PRO
Canada
#1036  
You can file a design patent.  This is a patent that is used for protecting your intellectual property rights around the design. So if others infringe on your work you have grounds to take them to court. The challenge is design patients are easy to get around by modifications and enforcement really isn't financially viable unless you are dealing with a large corporation who has used your work.  China (and now Russia) will basically ignore your rights anyway and this is where any mass production of clones would occur.  

The other approach is just make it easy for everyone to copy. Put in a Creative Commons licence that allows copy with attribution. https://creativecommons.org/about/cclicenses/  This works well for products example the Prusa 3D printer.  Most people purchase a genuine one because the clones always give problems and it is a pain trying to source all the components but when a part breaks you just press print.

I think the best example is the IBM PC.  They made a PC with an industry standard bus. Anyone could clone the PC, anyone could make peripherals for the PC and companies did. People would buy an IBM PC and 3rd party peripherals like video cards hard drives etc or they would buy clones and genuine IBM peripherals like monitors and printers. If you actually wanted something that was reliable and also wanted support you purchased 100% IBM Hardware.  

If you build a common base robotics platform and position it as pseudo industry standard others will build off it. Companies and individuals will always want to buy the original if they have the budget and if not you can still make money through the adoption of your robotics platform and the expansion of the ecosystem.
PRO
Belgium
#1037   — Edited
hi all

dave

your post is not negative but really honest . that is what will needs .
the more idea 's people bring the better will  can deside what to do .

smiller29

am gessing there will be always a way to copie . your idea sounds very promising .
sell it in a box . see what chinese do . taking pictures off averythin and make knock -off's .


will

i see you posted many awesome pictures off all the parts .these can used to ,
make copie's allreddy . i would remove those pictures .
dont take too much time in this . others will have something similar robot reddy .
and its what they say , first come firts gets served .
PRO
Belgium
#1038  
i allreddy found a copie off the mouth piece . 
look at the video 8.04 minutes .

PRO
USA
#1039  
@perry Still working out the details...by moving all the head componients down into the chest I can lighten the load of the head. My Alans have Dynamixels but they are very pricey. I'm moving the design to 1/5th sized servos for the neck and head rotation with a few standard and micros servo thrown in. One servo needs to be a fast analog, which hard to find these days. There will be a complete BOM and links to sources in the courseware. As supplies change, I'll make adjustments to the files to match those..(Ie China stops selling a particular servo I am using in the designs, etc.)
PRO
USA
#1040   — Edited
To all,

Thanks for all the insight. I've protected myself with a design patent some time back.

The bottom rung on my business plan starts with courseware. The course will include all the assembly videos, painting, programming and the BOMs. Students/Customers will be assigned an ID number. They will use this ID number to make upgrade purchases in the online store, (i.e alans skin, STLs new ears etc.) Each file will have a hidden feature somewhere in all the STLs known only by me. This feature is custom to each ID. If STLs get out into the wild I will know who leaked it by looking at the STLs if posted online.

An amazing person contacted me onine, with this fantastic tip for moving STLs around.
PRO
USA
#1041   — Edited
Meant to also tell you guys that the camera in the forehead is no more. Its moving to the shoulder section right below the neck. This will allow you to set up tracking motions since the camera will be stationary rather than moving with the head..which caused alot of problems for any kind of motion tracking, etc. tracking etc.
#1042  
Will, I'm so excited for you to see how this turns out and excited for me to possibly take your Master Class!!

For your poll, this would be my order:
1) The silicone face and its translucent surface
2) The neck design
3) The shoulders design
4) The back of the head design
PRO
Belgium
#1043  
will

HDD servo works best with ARC . i think most will use ARC .
i was thinking just desame using an ID number .
#1044   — Edited
I got my son started pretty young with the tinkering thanks to seeing DJ hacking items from thrift stores and such. We started the same and followed along for a quite a long time picking items up from a local thrift store and just turning them into something different. No remote. No problem. Just rip parts out and use ez-robot then make a small interface on phone and have fun. This moved over time to trying the same thing, but with raspberry pi's. I have helped my son progress over the years and he now owns a 3d printer, knows how to solder and even has the upper torso and head of Inmoov done.

After seeing the "Alan head" we were super impressed in a lot of ways as it was like an Alexa, but different and much more friendly. Being able to build one of these and give feedback would be super cool. We have a basic background now, but definitely not "experts".

Any idea as to the timeframe now for making a decision on being a "guinea pig" (yes we will sign an NDA) and building one and giving feedback?
PRO
Belgium
#1045  
hi all

if this goes thru . put your alan files on a cd-rom and remove them from your pc .
you never know if there's hacker just passing by . be safe all .
PRO
Canada
#1046  
Hi Nomad,
I assume Will is going to encrypt the watermarked files for distribution but this certainly opens up the question, what happens if a watermarked file appears on the internet that has your unique code and you were not directly responsible for the leak.
This type of security method is fairly easy to bypass if you have 2 different versions of the files and remove the unique identifiers through a file comparison but if this is the method Will wants to use I guess we will have to agree if we want to be participants.
#1047  
It amazes about all the talk here about ways to get around things, leaks, etc.  I have seen hundreds of projects succeed in the Opensource space and do it well.  I have seen many projects fail as well.  There is a way around every type security including crypto, cameras, watermarks, passcodes, etc., but I think the important thing here is for those that will be involved as testers or beta testers to just be responsible.  In my opinion its like a password.  Don't stick the *sunshine makes me smile* under you keyboard, don't write on a piece of paper on your wall.  Don't use it as a background on your phone.  My now 16 year old only uses a password keychain and all over 16 characters and considered strong.  This is just one example.  If you want to talk about how to give the files out and track them, then there is plenty of simple membership sites that can be sent up with encrypted codes (only good for 14 days) and one time use and other ways like dropbox with only the one email per user, etc.  It just depends on how secure.  

On the other side of things, I would rather hear about the benefits of being a tester, what all is included, what all is needed, etc.   In my opinion this should be more about marketing/advertising and hyping up what Will is doing here and helping promote it as he has something a bit unique that he has done and he is hopefully finally going to share it.   Thanks a bunch Will.
PRO
Belgium
#1048  
hi nink

maybe an uniek code on a cd-rom ? insteadt off sending files ? 
this topic shows that talking about all off this is needed .
there's another kink in the cable and that is the bying time,
is not so perfect . with the russian war . hight cost house heating,
people are strugling to get arround each month .

hi mtwannabe

a one time file use is not a good idea . when sending files to diff comps ,
its possible messurments changes . so you have to be able to mod the ,
file els you cannot put your alan together . ive seen allot files change ,
messurement up to more then 1 mm . so you have to be very lucky that ,
all files and prints succseed in 14 days .
PRO
USA
#1049  
You guys are bringing up some great points I will take into account. I still have not ruled out another Kickstarter, but this time for the files and some plastic part kits (not hardware). This will give me an great idea of the interest there still is in the project and future robot endeavors.

There is also the option of memberships... You would get open source Creative Common files of everything with access to instructional videos and program files  etc. I'm not too keen on this as I think people would join for a month get the files for Alan and split. I also would have to come up with new content every month which takes me away from other projects. But its doable....maybe additional Alan parts every other month and optional upgrades and/or different heads in between with different robots projects thrown in as well. I don't think this option would involve "Kits".

As for time lines on 3D printing beta files, this will likely be in the fall-ish time slot. I will be picking folks with different levels of building experience and different printer types i.e FDM, SLS, SLA. A few peeps will be chosen on this forum and a few will be from other groups I am a part of.

If you have expressed interest in being a part of the beta testers, please comment on the printer type you have.

Thanks!
#1050  
Will,
   Hopefully looking forward to be a tester.  Printer is FDM.  As for your membership idea maybe require a 6 month membership and price it so you still win.  This way if they pay for 6 months but only really only use 30 days it would be ok.  Just an idea.
#1051  
Will,
I would like to take the master class as well and I will protect your files and design via NDA if needed.  I’ve followed you on YouTube and before when you first introduced Alan to us!

Mark Stephens