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Misty II robot is coming in December

The latest creation from Misty Robotics offers swappable arms, improved AI and an "infinite personality." It's aimed at businesses, inventors and students.

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Misty Robotics

It sees you, it hears you... and it might emote for you. Oh, and its arms swap out. It's Misty II, the sequel to the original Misty that debuted at CES in January. The new model is arriving this December, and looks a lot more polished than its predecessor. The company is opening up its crowdfunding pre-orders today.

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Both robots are from the eponymous Misty Robotics, created to tackle a 10-year vision of where home robotics is going next. That company is an offshoot of Sphero, known for creating remote control toy robots like R2-D2, BB-8 and Lightning McQueen. I spoke to Misty Robotics CEO Tim Enwall about the newest Misty and the interesting tricks up the sleeves of its upgradable arms.

Misty II still isn't aimed at the normal, everyday person. It's a robot made for software developers, makers, businesses and students studying coding and engineering. Those upgradable arms can be swapped out, to add extras like a laser pointer (or Enwall suggests, a beer-holding arm, seen in the video below showing off some of Misty II's animated personality).

Misty Robotics will make accessories available, some made by Misty, some community-created. It has a trailer hitch to drag things if needed. Misty II can also self-charge, finding its charge pad and taking a rest to refresh (just like a robot vacuum).

Misty's new personality and emotion engine is maybe its most fascinating feature. Enwall says Misty II will be able to have an "infinite personality," developing emotions in 3D space and mapping emotions to the presence of triggers. He calls it "stochastic," and to me it almost sounded like a free-form way to turn sensed information into emotional inputs.

Its face is... well, it's adorable. It looks like a giant version of Anki Cozmo, or a cousin of Wall-E. It's 14 inches high and 6 pounds, so it's not too massive.

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Lots of specs, if you're curious.

Misty Robotics

The Occipital sensor bar on top of its head measures and maps 3D spaces, while a 4K Sony camera handles face and object recognition. Eight sensors tackle obstacle navigation and avoidance. There are two Qualcomm Snapdragon processors running Windows IoT Core and Android 7, and the flexible architecture could work with Arduino, or Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant. It can programmed via the simpler Blockly programming languange, or using Javascript.

It's being pre-sold now via a crowdfunding promotion at $1,499 to $1,599, but normally will cost around $3,200.

What if you bought the first Misty? Enwall suggests that the new model will be available at a discount if the first one is sent in to be recycled.

This news comes after reports that Amazon might be making an Alexa-powered home robot for release next year. Enwall thinks Misty is different, more flexible: "I suspect Amazon's robot initiative is not about extensibility."

It's unclear how often new Misty models will emerge, but Enwall sees the upgrade path as being somewhere between phones (1 to 2 years) and "a thermostat" (7 to 10 years).

Enwall wants Misty and its descendants in public spaces, from parks to elder care centers, so he already has ideas for Misty III: better manipulation, longer battery life between charges, improved AI and better motors.

But this Misty already looks pretty impressive.