Remember Nabaztag, the Wi-Fi connected rabbit that wiggled its ears and flashed when you got new email? Although it never quite lived up to its billing as the harbinger of a new connected revolution, the cute-but-baffling bot was one of the earliest examples of the Internet of Things to reach the consumer market.
Now one of the creators of that brilliant bunny, Olivier Mével, is back with a new spin on the same idea — and a Kickstarter project to get it made.
The scheme, called ReaDIYmate, is essentially Internet-friendly papercraft. You put a little toy together with a few origami folds, hook it up to a web bridge and tell it what you want them to do.
Right now the system’s reactions are limited: your little chum can move around or play a song whenever a trigger event takes place on the Internet. The system has access to a variety of web service APIs so \ it can react to a range of things — when you get a like on Facebook, for example, or when a particular user sends you a message in Gmail. Other services already hooked up include Twitter, Foursquare and If This, Then That — which can potentially act as a bridge to a wider number of sites.
Mével and his team in Paris — working under the banner of “The People’s Republic of Interactive Things — have been working on ReaDIYmate for some time, and since launching quietly at the end of last week they’re already more than a quarter of the way to their $25,000 goal.
The ReaDIYmate is not cheap (you have to pledge at least $100 to get any mechanical parts) but then again Kickstarter is not just about pre-ordering: it’s about buying into an idea. And these little guys are fun. Just watch how you can control one using an iPhone.
Mével says that ReaDIYmate is a build-it-yourself product that can be constructed in 10 minutes, but is expandable and enhanceable for anybody who wants to take it further.
“We believe it’s very important to have an approach where you end up with something cool and satisfactory very rapidly that serves as a starting point to create your own,” he told me by email. “Depending on your skill, your expertise or the time you want to spend, you can create a new form or change what the object does.”
“Our dream is to enable everyone to build interactive objects connected to the web,” he adds. “We are used to User Generated Content. We think that now is the time for User Generated Things.”