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May 22, 2014

Exclusive: Nanabot gives Cortana a new set of wheels

What do you get when you combine a fully functional robot with Cortana’s speech-recognition capabilities? A new Windows Phone app with some serious personality.


Independent developer and robotics expert Robert Oschler (pictured at right) is currently working on a project that will offer just such a robotics app for Windows Phone owners.

The app will run on your Lumia smartphone, and you will use the phone to control the robot’s actions.

The robot in this case is an affordable and commercially available product from WowWee called the RoboMe.

Integrated with the app, the robot takes on a digital personality that Robert is playfully calling “Nanabot”.

“The Nanabot offers a new level of interactive fun unlike anything you have ever seen before in consumer robots,” said Robert. “Using advanced speech recognition and conversation techniques, Nanabot can play games with you, explore your house, guard your room, recognize book covers, and even deliver messages to other family members as they enter the room.” And all of it is tied to an app for Windows Phone 8.1.

Bringing Nanabot to life

Sound too good to be true? We were skeptical, too. But then Robert showed us a video demo where the app he has created is running with a RoboMe robot.


Robert has been working on this type of technology for the past several years, and is a recognized expert in the field of robotics.

Before getting started on the Nanabot project, Robert recently released a free guessing-style game for Windows Phone called SideWords, which includes Cortana integration.

Think of this game as further proof of the potential built in to Nanabot.

You can support Nanabot’s next steps


This week Robert launched a crowd-funding project on Indiegogo to support the full development of his clever robotics app. The goal of the funding project is to raise enough money so that Robert can take the time needed to fine tune the conversational tools and artificial intelligence needed to make the app go the extra mile for users.

Additionally, Robert told us that if the main funding goal is met (which is only $5,000 USD), he is planning to “open source a toolkit that makes programming the robot very easy for Windows Phone developers.”

And that’s when things will really get interesting. Then, it isn’t just one developer contributing to the creation of Nanabot; any Windows Phone app developer will have the opportunity to add to what the robot can do. “The Nanabot will improve and upgrade over time,” said Robert.

“It will be noticeably smarter and more interactive than anything I’ve seen in the market before,” he added. “When the Nanabot is ready, we are going to give Windows Phone users something that iOS and Android users can’t get – unless they switch to Windows Phone!”

If you want to support this effort, please visit the project page on Indiegogo to learn more and help Robert reach his funding goals.

Update (June 2, 2014): Bluetooth LE add-on

With one more week to go for the funding of this project, Robert has added a new opportunity for anyone who contributes $25 or more: The team at VSN Mobil are providing a 50 percent discount for the purchase of their device, the V.BTTN, a small Bluetooth-enabled object that can detect button presses and movement (it has an accelerometer built in). Note, if you already contributed at one of the higher contribution levels you will get the discount too. And, if the project fully funds, Robert plans to open source the Bluetooth LE code that he wrote to interface with the V.BTTN. Think of the amazing Windows Phone apps that developers could create with this one … Robert has some ideas on the update page for the project, and he has this new video demo to show the V.BTTN at work with Nanabot.