Crowdfunding Spotlight: Peeqo DIY GIF robot

By Ryan Whitwam

The first robot to communicate entirely in memes.

We've talked about all manner of robots on Tested in the past; there are robots that walk, mix drinks, build things, and that's just the start. Peeqo, however, is probably the first robot ever designed to communicate entirely through memes. This DIY robotics kit is live on Kickstarter with everything you'll need to build your very own customizable machine that responds to voice commands with GIFs and videos.

Peeqo comes as a disassembled DIY kit that grew out of a project posted on Reddit's /r/DIY board. The creator stresses that it's an accessible device. You can assemble the robot with a few simple tools, and there's no soldering required. When assembled, Peeqo looks vaguely alive but not remotely human. The "face" is a 4-inch LCD at the top of a long, flexible neck. Inside, there's a motor with three degrees of freedom, giving Peeqo the ability to tilt and gyrate like one of those old dancing Coke cans.

This robot is all about voice interactions, so there are two omnidirectional microphones included with the kit. The "Peeqo" trigger word recognition is all offline, using Snowboy (from kitt.ai). So, no data is transmitted anyplace unless you say that word. It comes with support for online services like Google Cloud Speech and Amazon Voice, but you could also run it entirely offline with Snips.

Peeqo's main form of interaction is by playing GIFs on its embedded display. When you ask it questions or otherwise interact, it reaches out to services like Giphy, Guggy, Vlipsy to generate replies. You can download more skills without programming expertise like weather, timers, and music playback.

At the heart of Peeqo is a Raspberry Pi (3 or higher) and open source software written in Electron. It supports numerous abilities out of the box, but you can dive in and add additional capabilities. You can even use the system board's 12C pins to add new hardware modules to Peeqo. Keep in mind, you have to supply your own compatible Raspberry Pi with most kits.

The campaign currently has a few weeks left, and it's collected more than half of its $70,000 goal. If you act fast, you might still be able to snag one of the $149 early bird kits. After that, a single Peeqo will run you $169. These options don't include the Raspberry Pi, but you can pay $189 to have a Raspberry Pi 3B+ bundled with the kit.