ERICA project was about evolving one of products, NEXT, an educational robot for toddlers, into a smart cloud connected robot, with the ability to interact with children. So here the challenge was to develop the software for connecting the embedded board in the robot to the AI cloud platform FIONA.
We were glad of finding the Agile Open Call. It was a perfect timing for us since we were planning to work on an evolution of our current suite of robots for toddlers with a more intelligent one. It was a perfect match, since we already had a product in the market with some units (about 5,000) upgradeable to be connected to the cloud. By using AGILE stack, we obtained a framework to have things done. The initial learning curve was a bit tough but we quickly take over thanks to the support of the AGILE tech team. We met some challenges regarding the hardware requirements, as to run the Java version of AGILE, since our hardware setup, although powerful, it was tightened by low-price requirements to meet market constrains. The AGILE consortium understood perfectly the situation and both parties agreed to reshape the initial scope of our proposal. We developed a lightweight C++ implementation of AGILE core components, following the same architectural pattern as in the Java version. With this contribution the AGILE project is now able to support more hardware devices as i.e. Raspberry Pi Zero.
The possibility of including dissemination actions to the budget was a strong plus. This allowed us to participate in relevant trade shows to gain feedback from real customers, as well as to produce a video to introduce the consumers the new product and its advantages.
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Beyond the money, having the support and advise of external experts is always good to reconsider your approach. AGILE has provided us a strong push to the development of our new product which we expect to take to the market in the coming months.
Nevertheless, taking advantage of the communication channels of the AGILE project and consortium helps us, as a SME to get known beyond our own audience, enabling us to reach to new people, and hopefully open new opportunities.