Richard says hardware development is radically changing―in part because the open source mindset is moving to hardware. Wevolver users are building drones that explore the deep ocean, creating low-cost prosthetics, and even sending satellites into space.
But Richard’s favorite project on the Wevolver platform could benefit thousands of children.
A robot is born―the open source way
Richard and a friend wanted to help hospitalized kids experience the outside world. Richard thought of InMoov, a robotics project shared on Wevolver.com.
InMoov is a humanoid robot you can build at home with a 3-D printer. It started as a robotic hand created by Gael Langevin, who shared all his 3-D files online. When hundreds of people started making and improving the hand, Gael decided to create the rest of the robot. The addition of virtual reality―thanks to Wevolver community member Kevin Watters―lets people see through InMoov’s eyes. And an open source Segway makes the robot mobile.
With InMoov, kids use the robot as their private avatar. They control the robot from their hospital rooms, seeing what the robot sees, going where it goes―even shaking hands and talking to people via the robot.
Building the robot was the easy part
The whole robot was made with a 3-D printer. If things broke or didn’t fit, the InMoov Robots for Good team simply reprinted them. All components were off the shelf and affordable. All the documentation and volunteers were online, so the team could get answers to questions quickly.
The hard part was finding enough time. Volunteers had little to spare. At one point they had only half a working robot and doubted if the project would survive. But because of the open nature of the project, new volunteers kept showing up―from individual makers to professional 3-D printing companies―and the project moved forward.
Technology fit for kings?
One day the Sacramento Kings, a professional NBA team, contacted Richard’s group. Turns out, InMoov Robots for Good aligned with a project the Kings had worked on that let kids watch their games in virtual reality. Just like that, the InMoov community was excited again. The Kings helped find sponsors and people to build the robot. Recently, the project was launched in the U.S.
A community effort
Two local Sacramento high schools are building InMoov in their makerspace. When finished, the robot will drive into the Kings’ stadium controlled by kids in the local children’s hospital. InMoov will also let kids in London visit the Sacramento Kings games virtually. If successful, the NBA might roll out InMoov Robots for Good in stadiums across the U.S.
The sky is no longer the limit
Because the project is open source, the community shares everything they create online, so anyone can contribute or build their own InMoov Robot for Good. A large, global community continues to ev
olve the robot’s design with features like voice recognition and gesture control.
Richard believes projects like InMoov are just the beginning. He says thinking about the potential of millions of people building their own technologies―no matter where they’re from or what their backgrounds are―blows his mind.