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 The combination of technological progress and a growing interest in design has promoted the prevalence of DIY (Do It Yourself) and craft activities. HandiMate is a platform that makes it easier for people without technical expertise to fabricate and animate electro-mechanical systems from everyday objects. HandiMate encourages and enables creativity, expressiveness and playfulness.

The user can assemble his or her hand crafted creations with HandiMate’s joint modules and animate them via gestures. The joint modules are packaged with an actuator, a wireless communication device and a micro-controller. This modularization makes quick electro-mechanical prototyping, making it just a matter of pressing velcro together. Animating these constructions is made intuitive and simple by a glove-based gestural controller. The study conducted with children and adults demonstrated a high level of usability (system usability score -79.9). Creative ideas emerge and are realized in a constructive and iterative manner in less than 90 minutes.

“We have a series of simple hand gestures, and you map out how these gestures will control the different modules in your robot,” said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University’s Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “It brings out the creativity and imagination of the user. You don’t have to learn programming or the electronics. Those things are in the background.”

ZeroUI Inc. in Cupertino, California, has purchased an exclusive licensing agreement through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization for the gesture-based technology developed in Ramani’s laboratory.

ZeroUI founder and CEO Raja Jasti said HandiMate can lead to a new category of Internet of things (IoT) enabled robotic toys that appeal to both boys and girls.

“Affordable and powerful sensors,  and open IoT standards are powering a new generation of smart toy platforms such as HandiMate,” he said. “We plan to launch a kickstarter campaign in 2015 to launch HandiMate as a gesture controllable robotic toy kit for kids.”

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Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...