Aromas inventor pitches social robot idea on ‘All-American Makers’

droidle_5185Santa Cruz Sentinel

AROMAS — Aromas inventor and engineer Jay Hurley will get a chance to pitch his socially programmable robots to an investor on the Science Channel’s new All-American Makers show Wednesday night.

The new show, which is similar to the entrepreneurial pitch show Shark Tank on ABC.

“Everyone gets a chance to do their pitch,” said Hurley, who has designed “Oids,” formerly called “Droidles,” with the help of a team that included Tom Poliquin, a computational intelligence instructor at UC Santa Cruz Extension.

The palm-size chirping robots made with open-source technology can be programmed to do various things wirelessly, including repeat behaviors, recognize other Oids and link to the Internet to make reports.

Hurley, ran an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign last summer to raise $50,000, which drew the attention of the show’s producers. In August, he spent three days with his 12-year-old son Frank in filming the show in New York.

Like Shark Tank, entrepreneurs seek funding for new product ideas, but the Science Channel program focuses more on the science and technology in each product. Two engineer testers, Printrbot founder Brook Drumm, the first manufacturer of low-cost 3D printers and robotics expert Brian Roe, who developed advanced 3D camera systems, test the products thoroughly. They take them apart and explain the technology.

An ad hoc focus group weighs in on the consumer worthiness of each item as well before investor Marc Portney decides to make an offer or not and has two engineer testers and a focus group run it through trials and even take it apart before investor Marc Portney decides to make an offer or not.

On last week’s show, Portney gave $250,000 for 7.5 percent stake in a new water purifier company. He offered another team $400,000 for 30 percent stake in their thermal radar company, but was turned down.

Wednesday night’s show, titled “Fight Night,” features a bike that rides on water, a device to speed-train boxers, a healthy sunning product and Hurley’s programmable “Oids.”

“They exercised the product in every way that was possible,” said Hurley, who is barred from releasing any details about the show.

Hurley, who doesn’t have TV service at home, said he would be watching the show from a friend’s house Wednesday night. The show is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. but may also air at 7 p.m. as well.

Oids fans, interested in seeing the product in action and signing up to receive one of the first batch of Oids, are invited to visit the company website.

For information about All-American Makers, visit,


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