MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Though 3-D printing has generated a lot of buzz and interest in the industry, the lack of widely available equipment has made the process inaccessible to most regular would-be consumers. My Robot Nation from Kodama Studios, however, could be changing that, bringing out printable 3-D robots just in time for the holidays.
The service emerged from Beta on Wednesday (Nov. 30) with a promise of nine billion different robot design combinations, which users can create by themselves at home using a web browser with WebGL 3-D graphics. Once the robot is designed, it can be ordered and printed out by Z Corp. and sent directly to the buyer’s door.
Pricing for the printable ceramic-like robots ranges from $18 to $170 based on size, with the larger robots measuring up to six inches tall. The smallest robots measure just two inches, with the most popular size measuring three inches and costing $25.
“WebGL allows us to create and manipulate 3-D objects right in your Chrome browser in real-time – something that was previously only possible in PC applications or consoles games,” said Mark Danks, the co-founder of My Robot Nation, previously a game designer at Sony.
By taking advantage of 3-D hardware acceleration, he said, consumers could create their robot in a fully interactive environment, using industry standards like WebGL, HTML5, and CSS3 to display high fidelity graphics directly inside the browser.
Dank’s fellow co-founder, Sarah W. Stocker, is also a veteran of the video game industry, having previously worked at Electronic Arts Inc. The pair’s background is strongly reflected in the game-like and highly graphical UI.
“Robots are only the beginning,” said Stocker, noting that the platform was flexible enough to allow for the creation and customization of objects of any kind.
“We believe that 3-D can improve and be a key component to any number of experiences and will be much more ubiquitous than just for gaming,” Danks added, noting that this was especially true now that GPUs were standard on all modern computers.
“WebGL provides GPU acceleration capabilities to web applications of all kinds, for example games, education, visualization -- and now, with My Robot Nation, consumer-focused 3-D printing,” added Kenneth Russell, chair of the WebGL working group, saying he looked forward to seeing what other new domains would emerge for web applications in the future with increased usage of GPUs.
Google has already featured the Robot Nation service as an exclusive Beta on its Chrome Web Store. Once a robot has been created online, My Robot Nation showcases the design in its public gallery where others can “like” and share robot photos on their social networks, as well as repurpose shared designs from other members.
You can see a video of the robot making process below, as well as another video on Z Corp.’s printing process.