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Intel Dazzles CE Week with Jimmy the Robot

New ‘Smart Robot’ Introduced at CE Week Keynote Session

June 26, 2014 By Howard Whitman
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Brace yourself, Sarah Connor: The robots are here, and they’re smart.

That was the thrust of the CE Week Keynote Address that kicked off a day of conferences on June 25, the penultimate day of CE Week in New York City.

Intel Futurist and Principal Engineer Brian David Johnson was the speaker for the presentation, which was entitled “Meet the Makers: Re-Imagining the Future of Computing.” In this case, the session enabled attendees to meet the primary maker of an exciting new line of products that could be the future of CE: robots.

The session culminated with Johnson’s presentation of two iterations of the robot he’s developed for Intel, named Jimmy.

As a futurist, Johnson said he is focused on “what it will feel like to be human 10 to 15 years from now. … I wrote a spec so we can start building the future today.

“Ten years ago, we started talking about the future of robotics,” Johnson recalled. He mentioned that the first popular robot widely adopted by consumers, the Rumba—which performed household cleaning tasks—was the equivalent of a laptop, as it did rudimentary tasks but was cumbersome and utilitarian.

“What we wanted was the equivalent of a smart phone,” he said. “Something that was social—not built to fold your laundry or work in factories.”

The advent of 3D printing and other advanced technologies such as open source hardware and software—along with the army of makers and students focused on furthering these technologies—was the “big change” that impelled Johnson and his associates to “bring this robot to life.”

Intel teamed with Make and other companies to move this project forward and take advantage of the exciting new technologies available. And for inspiration, he went to the source, the people who are most into robots: children.

“Talking to kids, we realized robots are imagined first,” Johnson recalled. “And robots should be easy to build.”

Johnson asked the panels of children aged 8 to 10 questions like “What would your robot do? What would your robot’s name be?” (The latter question, he said, stemmed from the idea that “every robot should have a name, because every robot is built by an individual.”


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