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 Post subject: Sensetime's Senserobot review
Post #1 Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2023 7:35 pm 
Lives with ko
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Hello,

The Chinese company Sensetime has started selling a Go robot, Senserobot last year. I don't think it is available outside of China and I don't see many information available on this product, beside from the Sensetime itself (like no review or unboxing on Youtube in English).

I happen to live Shanghai, and a computer mall nearby has a Senserobot available on display with free access for everyone to use, so I have been going there many times and played with it in the recent months. I thought I could share some information on the product, so yesterday I went again and took a couple of videos/pictures available here: http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/
(I also posted that on Reddit if you prefer that platform: https://www.reddit.com/r/baduk/comments ... ot_review/)

Here are some comments:

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 200736.mp4
The video shows how to start a game. I run quickly though the menu to show what other modes are available, then start a 19x19 game. I select level of play at 10kyu (stronger levels are locked and cannot be played), choose to play as black. There was already some stones on the board, so the robot start by cleaning the board.
The stones are picked using a vacuum/suction system, it's very nice.

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 201148.mp4
The game is ongoing, I capture a stone but "forget" to remove it from the board. The robot reminds me to take the stone, and then wait for me to finish to play the next move.

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 201347.mp4
Here the robot captures as stone, and removes it from the board by itself.

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 201533.mp4
Here I "mistakenly" messed up "a few" stones on the board. The robot steps up and reorganizes the board. It's a very nice feature really. It also replaces a few stones that were on the proper spot, but maybe not aligned well enough with the intersections.

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 201755.mp4
Just me playing. Closer look at the system used to pick the stones. Sometime, one can see it needs a few tries to successfully pick a stone from the bowl. I think the robot has received some abuse from being in free access for several months, I don't remember it had those issues when I started playing with it.
(in the background, a group of ladies are playing against the Chinese chess version of the robot)

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 202058.mp4
http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 202725.mp4
http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 203104.mp4
Here, I engineer a large scale capture to force the robot to resign the game. But he won't easily resign...
(someone keeps spamming me message on Wechat, that's the annoying bell you can here in the background)

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 203245.mp4
The robot finally resigns. It then offers me to clean the board. This really is a nice feature.
An incident happens, as I start to help him clean the board as well, and at some point my hand collides with its arm. After that, it seems the robot is a little bit confused regarding how many stones it is holding in it's hand. It happens once during a game: I was too slow to put back a captured stone in the bowl, and when I reached for the bowl, the robot reached to play a stone and we collide. After that the end of the game was really painful as the robot was always failing to place stone (that it believe was in its hand but were not), or to pick new one (it needed an axis reset or something). It is handling the issue much better in the video, maybe a patch has fixed some of that.

http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 203754.mp4
http://yuntingdian.com/senserobot/VID_2 ... 210059.mp4
Here, I start a handicap game, and try different "in game features" (territory map, pass, change color, take a move back and resign).

A few other comments:
  • The stone quality is very good. It's plastic one, but it is quite heavy (check the pictures in the folder). I wasn't sure of what they were made of, until I noticed one that was broken in the bowl: it is made in two part, and there were some room in the middle to add something (maybe metal part for weight, or maybe a chips). I should have took a picture that day, but didn't. Before that, I hadn't realized they were made of two parts, so that tells how good the quality of the stones is.
  • It's possible to play white, the bowls location have to be inverted for that (it's very easy)
  • All the other games modes (online games, tsumego...) require to be online, so I could not check them.
  • To increase in difficulty, you need internet connections apparently (to record your wins), so I was stuck at 10k. There is one time where the robot was connected to a wifi signal. On that day I played repeatedly until I could unlock 2k level, then the mall was closing. When I came back the following week, the robot had been factory reset, and back to 10k :(
  • I tried to connect it to my smartphone hot spot: you can do that by having the robot camera scan a wifi QR code, but that only works with their own app generated QR code as far as I can tell.
  • So I played 10k, 8k, 6k, 4k, 2k... I didn't noticed any difference in strength. We played the exact same weird 10 moves opening each time (with second line approach move to corner...)
  • The robot won't take black with handicap, only white. I didn't try it, but it should be possible to start a handicap game as black, then request to change color?
  • It can play 9x9 and 13x13 as well by adding a skin on top of the game, the quality is very good (I could not find the skin when I came to record the video)
  • It can play "5 in a row". Every time I saw other customer plying the robot, it was "5 in a row" :'(
  • When playing online using the robot, I wonder how a situation where many stones have to be removed from the board (by you or the robot) is dealt with, recording time record. What if you are in Byoyomi and you have to wait 20s for the robot to removed the captured stones, do you lose on time?
  • No game replay mode as far as I can tell

Ok, so here is my take on the product:

The good:
The hardware is very very very good. I really wants to emphasis that, the playing experience is so delightful, so smooth, very close to perfect.

The bad:
The software part is poor, and somehow all that good hardware is wasted. But that is because I am not the target audience for the product.

Let me explain: In my understanding, the target audience for this product:
  • is not professional Go players
  • is not amateur Go players, or serious players
  • is not Go school or Go teachers
  • is not children playing Go
  • the target audience for this game are parents that send their child to Go school. That's who they try to sell their product to.

It's very obvious when you look at their advertisement (you can find them on Youtube). As a result, the emphasis is put on weird stuff like how it provide a friend at home for lonely children, or how it protects the eye sight of the child. A lot of though as been put on how to use and set up the equipment only using a smartphone (in China, most family won't have computer in fact), with online services (some of them might not be free). But indeed, a child, even from rich family, would not spend that much money on such product (he would spend it on a PlayStation instead). But their parent would, and I wonder how may of those robot will be taking dust at home after that.

All of this should not be an issue. But then other aspects have been neglected, mainly the possibility to connect it to your own computer, and choose the bot you want to play against.
That's the biggest issue. I think they selected a couple of LeelaZero or katago networks based on ELO score during their training, or something similar to play at different Kuy level, and as expected the result is very very bad. Not being able to take full advantage of the hardware without a internet connection and a myriad of accounts on Chinese platform is a deal breaker.

Many years ago, I had created a Go program (see my signature below) so indeed I would love to be able to have my program connects with the robot through some sort of API, have it plays my own bot, collect data, then proceed to a game analysis afterward. I would definitively pay the price for that.

I think they should rebrand they robot for a more mature audience (serious players who have the $$$, and go schools), maybe call that a "Pro version". A version that offers computer connectivity, add an documented API so that hackers can develop new program to interact with their products (eg: Go school networks could develop their own platform, or Go tournaments, or Go server. Anything would be better that closed environment). Add a basic English translation. Then they would probably be able to sell more of it (if half of Go school in China purchase one unit, that would already be quite a lot).

But maybe their business plan is not to make money by selling the hardware, and instead to make money through subscription or something.

Let me know if you are questions, or things you want me to try on site. I don't know how long the robot will stay available at the mall, but for now I can go there to try things out.

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This post by pnprog was liked by 2 people: Darrell, dfan
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 Post subject: Re: Sensetime's Senserobot review
Post #2 Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2023 6:12 pm 
Dies in gote

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Excellent post, thank you! As you say, there is so very little information about this device. It will take me mnay hours to look over all of your clips.

EDIT: Seems the links to your clips cannot be resolved by my service provider.

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 Post subject: Re: Sensetime's Senserobot review
Post #3 Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2023 4:10 am 
Lives with ko
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Hello,

bogiesan02 wrote:
It will take me mnay hours to look over all of your clips.

Don't worry, I don't think the total video time exceed 15mn

bogiesan02 wrote:
EDIT: Seems the links to your clips cannot be resolved by my service provider.

This one is strange. You can try directly using the IP address then: http://103.102.44.221/senserobot/

Could it be that I don't provide a secure connection (https) and only the old "unsecure" method (http)? Maybe some web browser don't let user connect to http those days.

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 Post subject: Re: Sensetime's Senserobot review
Post #4 Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2023 10:35 pm 
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I could watch some of your shortest clips but they freeze every few seconds because downloading time is very long. I'm wondering if someone has compared with the AI Baduk board

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo-kI9Ncq_U

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