ROBOSAPIEN... Fizzle? Was it all Marketing Hype? What happened?

What's the deal on Robosapien? In February of this year, with dozens of robots already in my collection, I decided to let the first wave of
frenzied robotic fans calm down rather than buy when supply and demand market was holding the price at or above suggested retail. By this time (8 months later) I also expected the original designer to have announced some type of downloadable upgrades or aftermarket program options. (Hasn't happened)
Even more interesting... after nine months on the market I expected this NG to be packed with tons of hacks, tweaks, USB interface controls etc. Instead there are very few posts specific to the Robosapien. More often than not, its only mentioned in passing along with other robots like Aibo and Asimo.
Yes... I've seen all the articles and some of the better dissections:
http://zodiak.f2o.org/extra.php?id_extra #
And probably the best hack by the University of Freiburg using a Pocket PC as the "brain" in their creation called NimbRo RS.
http://www.windowsfordevices.com/news/NS4750901902.html Servo Magazine had a Robosapien hack contest that ended in October... but I have yet to see any results (no participation maybe?):
http://www.servomagazine.com/hack-a-sapien/
The year started out with roll out of RoboSapien (Feb 2004). All indicators were it would be the hottest Christmas toy this year.
http://www.myrobosapien.com/videos/robobroadcast1.mov
Usually when a item is HOT for Christmas, you can't find it anywhere... at any price. I've been able to find them "everywhere" (including Walmart and Ebay). And A LOT cheaper too! A local store (Bed Bed, Bath & Beyond) has them for $55.99 if you present their mailer with 20% off coupon. ($69.00 without the coupon). That's a long way from the high of $149 earlier this year. While Robosapien may still be fun... it sure seems to have lost its steam.
NET: I've found no indicators that lead me to believe Robosapien is a must have! In other words it appears the Robosapien has proven to be nothing more than a cool sophisticated remote control "toy"... with limited interest to the hardcore robotic techies/hackers of the world. Yes/No?
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    --I suspect a lot of folks might be more interested in Robo One and its derivatives...
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : There's more than one way
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : to measure security...
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steamer wrote:

Indeed. Their use of digital servos addressable on an I2C bus is what makes them the most attractive servo-actuated platform IMO. The use of an addressable bus allows a controller to dynamically sense current and position feedback, which is practically impossible to do with traditional analog and digital servos. I don't even think the kits by Lynxmotion are this sophisticated. It'd be nice to see these kinds of kits start to offer a little more in terms of sensory feedback.
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Chris S. wrote:

Are there any english pages describing the technical side of Robo one?
--
John Bδckstrand

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>

English documentation is still limited. This link is one of the few Robo One sites in English. Although not deep into the technical aspects, it does offer PDF documentation on both the software and the hardware:
http://www.sozbots.com/robo-one/support.html
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Elton Noway wrote:

I'd agree that the RS isn't the toy to end all toys, but there are plenty of hacks out there. Several, many coming straight from Tilden himself, are listed on: http://www.robosapien.tk /

That's a fair assessment. Obviously, the RS was never meant to be anything other than cool toy. It's toyishness is mainly why I haven't bought one. However, you may still be undervaluing it in terms of hackability.
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[snip]
Interestingly enough, I'd read about Tildens hack site and wanted to check out his hacks as part of my research. I can say I've tried. For the last three days, I've been attempting to access his site... with the same results: "http://www.robosapien.tk/ Could not be found. Page is unavailable."

Same reason I haven't either. What's been tempting me has been the Bed Bath and Beyond web price. At $99 bucks I never gave it much of a thought, but for $69 I was willing to give it another look. Anyway... in a moment of weakness... I jumped in the car yesterday evening and drove over to BB&B just to see Robosapien up close and personal. It was larger than I envisioned. Pretty impressive. They even had one inside a factory display cabinet that you could activate the demo programs and see what it could do. It was fun to play with to some extent.
They had 24 of them in stock priced at $69.99! The sales rep said; "Last week the price was $99 but we just dropped the price." The rep then slipped me a 20% off coupon! Yikes... Robosapien for only $55.99! [Sigh]... I caved in.
What bugs me is I purchased it because it was a good price rather than because I really wanted one. On the plus side, I can leave it in the box and still return it as late as Jan 15th as an unwanted Christmas present. Maybe between then and now I'll discover enough worthwhile hacks that will have me itching to get under the covers.
Hmmm... On the other hand... the $55 dollars might be better served if I apply it towards the purchase price of Robosapien 2 to be unveiled February 5th.
http://tinyurl.com/6glkn
The release of RS 2 probably explains the price drop. (clear out all the original models to make room for the new and improved version.)
Decisions, decisions.
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wrote in message news:

Elton,
Thanks for the tip! Neighbor had a coupon and I just picked one up.
--
Robert Oschler
http://www.robotsrule.com/phpBB2 /
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: check out his hacks as part of my research. I can say I've tried. For : the last three days, I've been attempting to access his site... with : the same results: : "http://www.robosapien.tk/ Could not be found. Page is unavailable."
If your (or your ISP'S) DNS server is set to let root servers delegate only, and not honor wildcard records from the root servers (ie -- blocking NetSlow's Sitefinder service), you need to make sure the .tk domain is excluded from that block. Otherwise it will never resolve.
If you have no idea what this means :-) ask your ISP's support for help resolving the domain.
We got one for our son's fourth birthday, after he saw the display at Cosco, found the issue of Servo I left out with the review for my wife to read, and walked around the house for the next week talking about how much he wanted his Robie, how they would be friends, and watch TV together, and . . .
So at the Cosco $69 price, we've bought had fun with it. I figure when he gets tired of it, then I'll hack.
--
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Chris Candreva -- snipped-for-privacy@westnet.com -- (914) 967-7816
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Christopher, You are the man. I incorrectly assumed the site was down and never considered a problem with my DNS configuration. Rather than go thru the pain of calling my ISP Helpless desk... I Google'd 'Public DNS" and found a simply to follow set of instructions.
http://support.open-rsc.org /
I can now access robosapien.tk , as well as sites like http://atlantic.ocean /
Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
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: You are the man. I incorrectly assumed the site was down and never : considered a problem with my DNS configuration. Rather than go thru : the pain of calling my ISP Helpless desk... I Google'd 'Public DNS" : and found a simply to follow set of instructions.
Well, it's easy to notice the mistake others are making when you've already done it yourself. :-) Took me a few days of not being able to get to the site, with others talking about how great it was, to start investigating. But then I run the ISP here, so I'm motivated.
You might want to e-mail them and let them know that .tk needs to be in the list of exceptions for root-delegate-only anyway, unless they really are that useless.
There is a good reason for this blocking. Not to get to far OT - but this really started when Network Solutions started their 'Sitefinder" garbage, where instead of returning an error for domains that didn't exist, they would return the IP of their own search service. This broke all sorts of things -- such as browsers that let users define the search they wanted to use when a domain didn't exist, and spam filters that blocked mail from non-existent domains, and caused all sorts of havoc from sysadmins who wouldn't get an error any longer for simple typos.
So many of the DNS software vendors added an option to block what they were doing. Unfortunately it also blocked some of the smaller top-level domains that used the same method to give out some actual customer domain information, so an exclusion list was included with BIND. .tk wasn't on the initial list.
--
==========================================================
Chris Candreva -- snipped-for-privacy@westnet.com -- (914) 967-7816
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Elton Noway wrote:

That's weird. In the site's defense, I've never had any problems bringing it up (I can still view the site just fine). Keep trying, it's most likely just a temporary problem with the DNS server in your area.

If you put off all purchases until the next best thing comes along you'll never get anything, because there's always something better coming down the line. The only difference here, is that when the RS2 is released, it'll probably have the same problems as the RS1, namely a high price tag. Just think about your RS1 as a low-cost exploratory investment. If you don't like it, return it and don't bother with the RS2.
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Thanks to your prompting and Christophers assistance I can now access the site.
And, as a result... I have a few retractions to make.
First... while Robosapien may not be in the same league Robo One... I've decided, when considering its price point... it has its place. As you suggested I should consider the "RS1 as a low-cost exploratory investment." Good advice
Second... while the tips/hacks may be limited in this NG, there are quite a few listed and explained on www.robosapien.tk plenty. There are also sections on some "unadvertised" hidden features, as well as "tips and tricks" that are not covered in the owners manual.
Third... I originally questioned the hack contest by Servo Magazine that ended in October. I suggested "maybe no participation." I was wrong! There were plenty of entries. In fact, the First Prize winner for Best Hack was all I needed to see. After seeing the winning mod I immediately took mine out of the box and started taking it apart (after some limited play time of course ;)
Anyway, the winning hack allows the user to control Robosapien via PC (even via the Internet) as well as monitor audio and video in Robots location. Granted its not as sophisticated as issuing commands via internal program code and it won't cause Robo One to lose any sleep... but its a fun mod and will make an interesting conversation piece. Here's an excerpt from the winners post:
"I have outfitted the robot with a wireless camera, a radio frequency receiver that recieves audio from my PC (or any source), an upgraded stereo speaker system, and an on-board stereo amplifier. Using commercially available software and a USB infrared tranceiver, I have also designed and implemented a customizeable, fully skinnable PC control interface. The result is an audio visual "rover" that can be controlled via PC, and over the internet using remote desktop. I can connect to the robot from anywhere, and by using the PC control scheme walk him around the house and check up on the surroundings."
So... thanks to everyone for all the responses and suggestions.
NET: $55 bucks (via the Bed Bath and Beyond coupon) offers a very cheap starting point for anyone interested in robots / hacks and tinkering. Robosapien is bigger, sturdier, and more robust in construction than I expected. As it turns out, a decent value for the money. If you know next to nothing about robots, or program code, unsure of soldering, etc. etc. Robosapien is a good place to get your feet wet without going in debt.
Elton
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On 23 Nov 2004 21:53:48 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@mail.com (Elton Noway) wrote:
In Australia they are flogging the original RS for AUS$125-149. I am not kidding, every shop that sells toys of some sort has them. I had a look at one and although I was impressed at the tech specs the plastic covers and paint job were a bit messy. Mechanically however it looked pretty good, the ability to walk is the main thing.

Sig: I have a brain the size of a planet. It's not much good to me, however. It's on a different planet.
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I suggest that you subscribe to SERVO Magazine, as we are publishing hacks and tweaks from our Hack-A-Sapien contest in the next few months.
www.servomagazine.com
Dan Danknick Editor, SERVO Mag
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what month, im jsut really interested in jsut that order, so i know which one to get.
hopefully they release a few more easter eggs aswell before x-mas comes would be nice to see some other little funny skits..
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