Co-founder

This happy robot helps kids with autism

Posted by | Co-founder, Gadgets, iPad, LuxAI, robot, robotics, TC, therapist | No Comments

A little bot named QTrobot from LuxAI could be the link between therapists, parents, and autistic children. The robot, which features an LCD face and robotic arms, allows kids who are overwhelmed by human contact to become more comfortable in a therapeutic setting.

The project comes from LuxAI, a spin-off of the University of Luxembourg. They will present their findings at the RO-MAN 2018 conference at the end of this month.

“The robot has the ability to create a triangular interaction between the human therapist, the robot, and the child,” co-founder Aida Nazarikhorram told IEEE. “Immediately the child starts interacting with the educator or therapist to ask questions about the robot or give feedback about its behavior.”

The robot reduces anxiety in autistic children and the researchers saw many behaviors – hand flapping, for example – slow down with the robot in the mix.

Interestingly the robot is a better choice for children than an app or tablet. Because the robot is “embodied,” the researchers found that it that draws attention and improves learning, especially when compared to a standard iPad/educational app pairing. In other words children play with tablets and work with robots.

The robot is entirely self-contained and easily programmable. It can run for hours at a time and includes a 3D camera and full processor.

The researchers found that the robot doesn’t become the focus of the therapy but instead helps the therapist connect with the patient. This, obviously, is an excellent outcome for an excellent (and cute) little piece of technology.

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Playmaji is looking to bring its modular retro-gaming console to market

Posted by | capcom, Co-founder, computing, e3 2018, Entertainment, entertainment software association, Gaming, Konami, Nintendo, nintendo entertainment system, playmaji, sega, TC, Twitch, YouTube | No Comments

Tucked away in a far corner of the West Pavilion of the Los Angeles Convention center among the independent game developers showcased by IndieCade during E3 is a small booth demonstrating the latest Polymega hardware, a device that’s billing itself as the NES Classic for every old-school game released on every old-school gaming platform.

The company that’s making the device first debuted last year as Retroblox, and while its name has changed (it’s now called Playmaji) and its hardware has gotten more refined, the vision remains very much the same.

Playmaji debuted the new system and its user interface last year at E3 and it’s back again this year to tout its new pricing and drum up support for a pre-order campaign — even as it tries to raise money to license games from publishers.

Last year, Playmaji eschewed going down the crowdfunding route and instead raised $500,000 from undisclosed angel investors, according to chief executive and co-founder Bryan Bernal. This year, Bernal said his company would look to launch a pre-order campaign within the next three months and begin shipping systems by the end of the year.

While there are plenty of consoles (like the Retroengine, or Hyperkin’s SNES clone, or Analogue’s SuperNT) that tout similar capabilities to play retro arcade and console games from gaming’s golden age, Playmaji’s grand designs to provide an all-in-one networked console for gaming that can stream to Twitch or YouTube may set it apart.

The company wants to ensure that it’s doing everything by the book and not tacitly encouraging piracy, according to Bernal.

Eventually Bernal does envision a move into licensing (aiming for 50 to 100 games when the company launches its first product in the fourth quarter of this year), but for now users are limited to the cartridges that they own — or that they can find somewhere.

Both Bernal and his co-founder Eric Christensen have a history in the games business, coming from Insomniac Games where Bernal worked on the Ratchet and Clank title.

The hardware console will sell for $249.99 initially, with module sets that allow for users to upload games from different consoles starting at another $59.99. Those modular sets also include controllers that resemble the classic designs from NES and Sega systems.

“We designed new classic controllers packaged with the element modules,” said Bernal. “You can have a retro controller ready to go. To allow the classic feel and emotion of the games to carry on into the future.”

So far, the company has only raised $500,000 in pre-seed funding, but Bernal is gearing up for a larger round of $2 million to $3 million for licensing additional games. He said preliminary talks were already underway with companies like Sega, Konami and Capcom.

“The closest corollary on the market is the Classic Mini,” says Bernal. While Sega supports classic cartridges through one of its game platforms, no other console that’s on the market presents a unified device for all of a user’s old games, he said.

“This is supposed to serve as the home base in your living room,” said Bernal.

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Rapchat raises $1.6 million to help you make and share your def jams

Posted by | Android, Apps, Co-founder, Columbus, computing, digital media, mobile software, oakland, premier, producer, rapchat, RC, Snapchat, social network, Software, soundcloud, Startups, TC, United States, YouTube | No Comments

The first thing to understand about media-sharing app Rapchat is that co-founder Seth Miller is not a rapper and his other co-founder, Pat Gibson, is. Together they created Rapchat, a service for making and sharing raps, and the conjunction of rapper and nerd seems to be really taking off.

Since we last looked at the app in 2016 (you can see Tito’s review below), a lot has changed. The team has raised $1.6 million in funding from investors out of Oakland and the Midwest. Their app, which is sort of a musical.ly for rap, is a top 50 music app on iOS and Android and hit 100 million listens since launch. In short, their little social network/sharing platform is a “millionaire in the making, boss of [its] team, bringin home the bacon.”

The pair’s rap bona fides are genuine. Gibson has opened or performed with Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and Machine Gun Kelly, and he’s sold beats to MTV. “My music has garnered over 20M+ plays across YouTube, SoundCloud and more,” he wrote me, boasting in the semi-churlish manner of a rapper with a “beef.” Miller, on the other hand, likes to freestyle.

“I grew up loving to freestyle with friends at OU and I noticed lots of other millennials did this too (even if most suck lol) … at any party at 3am – there would always be a group of people in the corner freestyling,” he said. “At the same time Snapchat was blowing up on campus and just thought you should be able to do the same exact thing for rap.”

Gibson, on the other hand, saw it as a serious tool to help him with his music.

“I spent a lot of time, energy and resources making music,” he said. “I was producing the beats, writing the songs, recording/mixing the vocals, mastering the project, then distributing & promoting the music all by myself. With Rapchat, there’s a library of 1,000+ beats from top producers, an instant recording studio in your pocket, and the network to distribute your music worldwide and be discovered…. all from a free app. Rapchat is disrupting the creation, collaboration, distribution, & discovery of music via mobile.”

“We have a much bigger but also more active community than any other music creation app,” said Miller.

While it’s clear the world needs another sharing platform like it needs a hole in the head, thanks to a rabid fan base and a great idea, the team has ensured that Rapchat is not, as they say, wicka-wicka-whack. That, in the end, is all that matters.

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Supernova promises to automatically convert Sketch mobile app designs into native UI code

Posted by | Android, Apps, artificial intelligence, Co-founder, computing, Credo Ventures, czech republic, designer, Developer, Europe, funding, Fundings & Exits, mobile app, prague, smartphones, Software, Supernova, TC | No Comments

Supernova, a startup operating out of Prague in the Czech Republic, is on a mission to accelerate the app development workflow of mobile designers and developers. More than three years in the making — and the brainchild of co-founder Jiří Třečák — the Supernova Studio macOS app promises to automatically convert mobile app designs created […]

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