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Shimi: Your personal robotic DJ

Want to fulfill your dream of having robots in your home? Start with a robot that uses the cloud and smartphone voice commands to play music.


Tovbot, a startup that wants a future full of personal robotic assistants, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Shimi, which is auditioning to be your own personal robotic DJ.

The robot -- created by roboticists from Georgia Tech, MIT, and IDC -- takes advantage of smartphone technology to play music and pick songs based on your taste or mood.

It's essentially a cute, shiny dancing robot that performs a Pandora-like service and costs $199 (unless you help fund it through Kickstarter -- it's going for as low as $129 there).

"We want it to be your little musical companion," co-founder Gil Weinberg said at TechCrunch Disrupt today during the conference's startup battlefield segment.

Shimi probably got some smiles for being cute when it bobbed its little robotic head to the music it played and shook its head when asked to play a Justin Bieber song. But the judges were skeptical since the functions aren't exactly cutting edge.

They asked Weinberg how Shimi is going to set itself apart from all the other robotic music players that have already been flops.

"They were toys," Weinberg said, adding that those products didn't have smartphone or cloud computing tie-ins. Shimi, on the other hand, gets smarter as technology evolves because it can be updated through the cloud, he said. The robot takes advantage of voice activation tech from smartphones to run the actions, so if those systems are updated, Shimi takes advantage of the upgrade.

Weinberg said the purpose of building robots for one specific purpose is to keep costs down, so more people will use them.

In the future, Tovbot wants to use the technology for other task-centric robots: a lamp robot that follows you around to give you lighting whenever you need it, or a kitchen scale that can act as your sous chef, giving you recipes or telling you if your ingredient measurement is off.

See Shimi shake its groove thang in the Kickstarter video below.