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February 01, 2012

MyRobots.com Launches App Store for Robots

MyRobots.com announced the launch of the first robot-specific app store today. The first widely available apps are intended for use with iRobot Roomba vacuums, one of the most widely used robots in the world today. Approximately six million Roombas are being utilized by households around the globe.

MyRobots.com launched a beta last November designed to link robots to the cloud. “You can think of MyRobots as a social network for robots and smart objects,” the website said when it announced the beta. “In the same way humans benefit from socializing, collaborating and sharing, robots can benefit from those interactions too by sharing their sensor information [and] giving insight on their current state.”

New Scientist magazine has called MyRobots.com “Facebook for robots.” Robot owners can sign up their droids, create a profile for them that includes a picture, and allow them to update their own status. Signup is currently free, although that paradigm may change in the future. The idea, according to program coordinator Carlos Asmat, is to allow robots to become smarter based on even the most mundane online exchanges.

The robot social exchange could also give humans information needed to anticipate repairs. Also, exchanges could allow household robots to coordinate their efforts. If one robot notices a lot of people in the house, for example, then robot vacuums like Roomba could automatically know that they will have a lot of work to do the next day. ““These examples can be seen as science fiction at the moment but are very close to becoming a reality,” Asmat told New Scientist.

The Robot App Store also provides a platform for roboticists and developers to create, submit and sell their own apps. Currently, apps have to be downloaded and installed onto robots, although the company hopes to create apps with cloud functionality in the near future. Also, transactions for the app store go through RobotShop’s e-commerce site, but providers hope to give users a more seamless experience by conducting transactions through MyRobots.com.

Mario Temblay, CEO of RobotShop, stated that the purpose of Robots.com and the app store is to augment robots with more capacity and intelligence. “Connected robots equal augmented robots. By collaborating with other machines and humans, robots transcend their physical limitations and become more useful and capable, since they can delegate parts of their tasks to more suitable parties.

“Tomorrow, the intelligence behind your robots will not be restricted to their physical platforms” Temblay said. “Information, knowledge, and skills will be available instantly.” For those who fear Skynet and Cylons, Temblay doesn’t offer many words of comfort. Your Roomba, however, is still safe. For now.

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Jacqueline Lee is a RobotXworld contributor who produces web content, blogs and articles for numerous websites including wikiHow.com. Her background is in business and education.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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