BOCCO emo is a communication robot from Yukai Engineering based in Shinjuku, Japan. It has a very simple interface so that it can be used easily by anyone, including young children or the elderly who do not need or cannot use a smartphone. Acconeer’s A1 radar sensor is used for smart presence detection.
BOCCO emo’s main purpose is to connect family members that are at home with those who are out by sending and receiving messages to and from a smartphone application. It can also be used in hospitals or care homes to link up patients with medical staff. BOCCO emo can also be set up to speak out reminders, such as for taking out the trash or taking medication, or be connected with other services too, for example, to speak out the day's weather. BOCCO emo is the new version of BOCCO, with additional sensors and voice activation.
A1 radar sensor used to trigger actions depending on user behavior
In BOCCO emo, the A1 radar sensor is used to detect people near the device and trigger various actions. If someone simply passes by the robot, it could look up or call out to them. If someone stands right in front of the robot, it could listen actively or react happily.
However, in the future, Yukai is considering using the sensor for other purposes depending on their clients’ needs. One such use case could for example be the monitoring of vital signs (breathing and heartbeat) for the observation of patients in a hospital.
Easy integration and future potential made Yukai choose Acconeer’s radar over competitors
In the early stages of development, Time of Flight (ToF) and radar sensors were compared for measuring distance. The radar sensor was chosen as, compared to the ToF sensor, it can be integrated behind plastic and does not require an aperture, which made it possible to have an attractive design.
Yukai Engineering compared several millimeter-wave radar sensors similar to A1 and found that some were too expensive or too large. Meanwhile, the A1 is small as it can be used in one chip, and the price is competitive which made the final choice easy.
“Regarding the information that can be acquired by the sensor, after seeing a demo where it detects breathing and heartbeat not only by the distance but also by minute body movements, we saw the possibility of expanding the use case of BOCCO emo in the future", saysTakashi Sagisaka, CTO of Yukai Engineering.
Great tools and support from Acconeer made evaluation and integration smooth
Yukai used Acconeer’s Python Exploration Tool with the evaluation kit (EVK), to start investigating the potential of the use case. Sebastian Miller, engineer at Yukai Engineering, describes the process:
“The Python Exploration Tool is incredibly pleasant and easy to use, in particular, to try out different use cases. Once we had moved over to our custom board (running a Linux kernel), it was also very practical to be able to use the Python Tool with it. Concerning our custom board development, the most challenging part was the hardware layout, as the radar sensor is quite sensitive. Luckily, we could have our design checked by Acconeer who could advise us on any adjustments to make, which saved us quite some time and resources. Once the hardware was fixed, the software integration, which included having the Acconeer SDK ported for our custom board, moved on very smoothly and presented very little problems.
Every time the staff from Sweden came to Japan they would visit and show us demos of new features and the latest demo board. It was great to be able to catch up. Other than with BOCCO emo, Yukai Engineering is paying attention to this sensor for its low cost and low power, and Acconeer themselves provided a reference design combined with a Bluetooth microcontroller, so we feel that they are well oriented with Yukai Engineering. Overall, Acconeer has a cool and advanced brand image, and Yukai is pleased to be able to work with this brand. The help desk responded quickly, and we are thankful for their follow-up of product development at regular meetings, leading to smooth product development. We are looking forward to the product and SDK updates and new use case suggestions."
About Yukai Engineering
Yukai Engineering specializes in the development of robots that bring joy to life, and operates based on the motto, “Robotics for Fun Living.” Yukai Engineering focuses on the consumer market for personal robots which can enhance the quality of the daily life of users. The company’s goal is to see a robot in every household by 2025, not just in Japan, but overseas as well.
At Yukai Engineering, staff members are encouraged to use their imagination to the fullest to come up with innovative ideas. Many of the company’s products come from internal proposals based on the ideas of the staff.
Yukai Engineering’s vision is to see robots replace smartphone screens as the interface of choice for the next generation. Our environment, which will be very much technologically infused, will be intelligent enough to decode the meanings of our behavior and transform this information into digital cues so devices can respond accordingly. Interactions between humans and robots will become natural and seamless. Yukai Engineering hopes to become a company that develops robots that are recognized as the world’s standard interface.