Shimi, Your Musical Robot Companion, Wants the Next Dance

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Shimi, the interactive musical robot, picks music, follows you around the room and dances (Photos: Tovbot)

Does your speaker dock pick music for you, create new compositions, follow your movements around the room and dance with you? No? Then it’s time to Shimi.

Click play to see how Shimi was designed and see it in action

More than just a speaker doc, the new Shimi — named after the dance move, the “Shimmy” and developed by a team of roboticists from Georgia Tech, IDC Herzliya and the MIT Media Lab — is an intelligent, interactive, music-loving robot that serves as both a premium speaker system and dance partner. And it’s downright amazing.

Shimi’s “head” is a set of high-quality speakers with an optimized shape for ideal sound reproduction. But a lot of speaker docks have that. What takes Shimi beyond just producing the ultimate in sound is that Shimi uses your iPhone as its brain, allowing it to not only know and understand your music, but to also know and understand what moves you.

Shimi dances with you... girl not included

Once the music starts, Shimi takes the stage. Five strategically placed motors allow it to dance to the beat of any song, with a variety of dance moves that fit the specific song and genre. Just try and watch its head bob to the music and not join in, I dare you.

As your musical companion, Shimi always knows where you are in the room and points the speakers toward you. It also has the ability to react to humans, using advanced facial and speech recognition algorithms so Shimi will also respond to your voice, your taps, your gestures, learn your musical preferences and even recommend new music for you.

“In a way, Shimi started out as an animated character. We worked to nail down his personality and then we transferred that into the robot,” said Guy Hoffman, Chief Technology Officer. “The result is that Shimi doesn’t just play your music, he actually listens to it and enjoys it as much as you do.” (The day this thing greets me at the door and says, “Hey, have you heard the new Mumford & Sons single? It’s. Just. Ridiculous.” is the day I start checking it for a Cyberdyne Systems logo…)

Shimi is targeting store shelves for February 2013, but you can preorder your Shimi today by backing their Kickstarter campaign. For just $149 you’ll get to bring home one of the first Shimi’s off the line, and save $50 off the projected retail price. And you’ll never dance alone again.

For more, follow me @ericrogell.

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