There is no shortage of iOS docks being pitched on Kickstarter. They’ve been a stable of the site’s technology section, and many of them look like they easily could have been conceived in Apple’s own labs. But one Kickstarter campaign isn’t interested in just selling another sleek, buttonless charging station for your iPhone.
Mark Solomon is the creator of Moboto, a personality driven product that just happens to come in the form of an iOS dock – at least initially. “I’ve always been a fan of designer toys and I’ve had them around my desk and collected them for a long time,” Solomon tells me. “I always wanted them to not be static, and wondered what it would be like if we actually brought personality to them.”
Moboto uses apps and various sensors from the iPhone to create a digital, interactive experience. For all our AI advancements, using your phone is surprisingly one-sided; even Siri failed to live up to her early hype. With what it’s calling “APPersonas,” Moboto will express itself based on your customizations and the data it collects from places like your phone’s weather sensor. Solomon also says Moboto will integrate with Facebook and Twitter for further personalization.
Another element the team is working on is speech. Text to speech capability will be available in version one, meaning you can dictate something to Moboto – like a customized alarm notification or greeting. Solomon says they’re working on speech recognition for a future iteration, where Moboto could respond to you, for instance, by asking if you wanted it to play music when you walk in the room.
“We’re deep in the sandbox playing with a lot of things around interactive speech and speech recognition,” he says.
If the Kickstarter campaign gives Moboto legs, it will move beyond the APPersonas the team has created. Solomon mentions the startup wants to explore licensing for popular characters like Darth Vader, sports personalities, or comic book heroes. “It’s sort of like a digital bobblehead, which is a bad word to use because it connotates cheapness,” he says. “But the idea is to bring to life to different characters, our own characters and those we can license.”
Not only would users have the option to customize their software experience with Moboto, but thanks to the explosion of consumer-facing 3D printing solutions you can put your own stamp on the hardware. “There are three main components to the dock: the main piece with the docking area that powers the unit, and we will always build this part,” says Solomon. “But the arms and the base are modular and connect with a twist and lock mechanism. So we’re going to give the connection packs out to anyone that wants them on MakerBot and other 3D communities so you can build your own.” He says Moboto wants to do this with the software as well, but it will continue to explore this option.
Of course, the iPhone/iPod dock is only the first way Solomon sees Moboto taking physical form. “We want to make any technology that you interact with have a personality, whether that’s the phone or storage, or audio, or a refrigerator.” He says Moboto is looking into developing for Android as well as moving into Web standards.
At the moment, the campaign is nearing its end and Moboto still has about $373k to go. So if you like the sounds of a more personality-driven digital experience, head over to its Kickstarter page and get on board.