This article was translated from a story which first appeared in WeChat for our Chinese community. We thought you’d enjoy learning more about Dr. Thuc Vu and the evolution of Kambria as well. Enjoy our Founder’s Report | Creating Ohmni Robot & Kambria.
Hello everyone! My name is Thuc Vu. Although I was educated in the United States, I am actually from Vietnam and I am a serial entrepreneur. Many of the companies I founded have been acquired, and the most recent acquisition was funded by Google. In 2015, I worked with Jared Go and Tingxi Tan to form Kambria, an open source innovation platform for robotics and artificial intelligence and currently serve as the CEO.
Looking back, the idea of building an open source community was born out of the predecessor of Kambria, the OhmniLabs robotics company. In 2015, OhmniLabs was established, and in September 2017, the first telepresence robot, Ohmni, was launched. The user can remotely control the movement of the robot and remotely interact and communicate through the notebook.
Although the development process was very difficult, Ohmni is now known as the “the most economical and simplest home robot”. Unlike other home robots, our Ohmni is made from great materials and features a unique style. The tripod wheelbase is solid and durable and can be folded into a small carry-on bag. In addition, Ohmni has a slanted neck so that it can look, see, and nod like the user making both sides of the long-distance communication seem much closer.
In addition, Ohmni is equipped with an excellent camera, display (with a built-in tablet) and sound system. Not only is it manufactured in California, but many of Ohmni’s parts are produced using 3D printing, which is both cost-effective and rugged, and is 100% remote control, making it quick and easy to set up.
Once the robot is assembled, you can connect directly to WiFi to start communication. Ohmni’s cloud technology is directly related to Google or Facebook accounts, and you can start a clear and free chat without installing any software. This was actually our original intention — that users who are new to the Internet can easily communicate using Ohmni. In order to reduce the user’s discomfort, we also developed a privacy-protection feature; when Ohmni is turned off, it automatically faces the wall, and users don’t have to worry about being snooped through the camera nor the series of privacy issues that follow.
At present, our Ohmni robots have sold more than 500 units through crowdfunding, mainly in the fields of elderly companionship and early childhood education. These results are respectable for a robotics startup. At the same time, due to the emergence of Ohmni, more and more large companies such as Toppan, a famous Japanese letterpress printer, have contacted us and hope to customize Ohmni for specific industries. In addition, we have signed a contract with a well-known industrial group company in Vietnam, with whom we will cooperate in projects such as robotics R&D and data analysis. With the continuous application and popularization of robotics, Ohmni will better serve the field of remote communication.
Ohmni helps build an open source technology development community with Kambria
Ohmni has achieved great results in the market and the architecture behind it is indispensable. We built a cloud-based JS framework “Ohmni API” for Ohmni, making robot programming as easy as developing a web page. Any user can develop a rich HTML5 application to display complex media or network logic on the screen. They can also use JS calls to gain full access to lights, text, languages, and more. Over time, we will extend the framework capabilities to add a higher level of navigation and recognition capabilities, allowing users to write all of Ohmni’s advanced tasks without a threshold.
In hindsight, Ohmni’s development was not easy. From the beginning of establishing the laboratory to searching for suppliers, robotics startups are very difficult. Through this difficult process of developing Ohmni, an idea gradually formed in my mind: since there are so many barriers in the field of robot development, why not create an open platform where development, purchase, research, investment, and other needs coexist? This would not only bring talent together but would also promote the development of robotics. That was the origin of Kambria.
Kambria is driving the development of robotics and artificial intelligence with blockchain technology
Although my thoughts have taken shape, I still need to review them. What was the key point I thought at the time that could handle such high information density, high technical difficulty, and a large number of participants? After absorbing a lot of relevant knowledge, I focused on the blockchain technology field referred to as “the next Internet.” I hope that through the open source and economic incentives of blockchain, we can use the power of the community to solve the problem that robots are currently too difficult and costly to build.
With the features and power of blockchain technology in mind, I worked with other partners to create a decentralized open source platform, Kambria, for aggregators, robotics companies, companies with robotic needs, and component manufacturers. At the same time, we expanded the scope to include artificial intelligence, linking the three cutting-edge, hot technologies of blockchain, robotics, and artificial intelligence. This connection capitalizes on the open source spirit of the platform, breaking the shackles of bundled technology and speeds up the proliferation of robots into thousands of households as soon as possible.
I am often asked about the relationship between Kambria and OhmniLabs. Using Linux Foundation as an example, Kambria is the open source system which focuses on R&D and ecosystem development. OhmniLabs is like Ubuntu, a different version of Linux, focusing on product manufacturing and profit creation. Kambria and OhmniLabs share the same initial intention, which is to promote the technological development of robots and artificial intelligence using the power of a decentralized blockchain, so that developers, investors, suppliers, and many other parties can work together leading to the breakthrough and growth of a new generation of cutting-edge technology industries.
Join us, join Kambria, join the new world of open source technology.