“I built a Minion Christmas Robot with my kids,” now that’s not something you hear everyday. Except if you’re Ty, CEO and Founder of BrainStorm software.
Ty loves to explore new technology and this year he went a little beyond the norm and involved his kids. He was drawn to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and took his kids on a journey to build a Christmas Minion that can talk and watch objects with its eye.
“If I can say anything, doing this stuff with your kids is great, you both learn a lot and it’s fun!
“One of the technologies I explored this year was robotics and we built our first robot together just before Halloween. It was a mechanical hand, and gave our trick or treaters a nice surprise when it moved its fingers. We decided to try something out for Christmas and that’s how the Christmas Minion came about.
“I grew up on the remote Groote Eylandt and Christmas decorations were hard to get, so my parents built most of ours with ply-board. I really enjoyed those projects. So I wanted to give my kids a similar experience. As expected, they loved the planning and painting, however the AI, coding, CAD (Computer Aided Designs), and 3D printing was up to me.
“The mechanics of building the Minion were a lot more involved than the hand. There was a lot of trial and error, however exploring and finding the winning combination of technologies was what I enjoyed most.”
Starting with the most challenging parts first, Ty and the kids designed and 3D printed the eyeball and set up the electronics and Arduino microcontroller, so it could be controlled with a joystick.
Coming from his development background, Ty then built a website to enable MTS (Minion-to-server) comms and then assembled the physical parts using 3D printing, plastics, wood and metal.
“It’s hard to see it won’t become commonplace for all manufacturers to use this technology (3D printing) for prototypes at minimum, and in my opinion AI will be everywhere soon, the companies embracing it now will be those who lead later.
“With the build, the AI was actually the easiest part. The hardest part was getting the video stream communication from the Minion to server (MTS) working correctly and to have it deal with dozens of frames per second.”
The Christmas Minion detects People, Bikes, Cars, Motorbikes, Trucks and Bananas (because Minions love them). He has a special set of dialogue dedicated to when he detects a Banana.
“You can ultimately program whatever you want into it.”
“I have been getting a kick out of watching visitors’ reactions to the Minion. My Dad was over the other day and the minion just follows you around the room with its eyes. He found it cool but also a little disturbing,” he said with a grin.
Ty encourages all parents to introduce their hobbies to their kids this christmas holidays.
“Including your interests and spending some quality time with your children this Christmas, you never know, your passion might also turn into theirs and you might even say “I built a Minion Christmas Robot with my kids,” and you’ll all have a lot of fun in the process.”
Check out some of the images from the Christmas Minion Robot build below.