Press: 21st Century Robot Project and Digital Forming release design tool for 3D printable robots with personality

If you had a robot, what would it look like?

What personality would it have? 

What’s your robot’s name?

Imagination is the first step.


6th – 9th January 2016, Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, Nevada

Digital Forming Booth 72438, Tech West, Sands Expo, Las Vegas

Robots have lived rich fictional lives in our books and movies for many years, but bringing them into the real world has proved more challenging. The 21st Century Robot Project realizes the dream of renowned Futurist, Brian David Johnson, to bring robots to life.

The Project introduced a number of easy-to-build, completely open source, human-like robots that can be created from a kit, so makers can set their imagination free to ask: What’s your robot’s name? How would you design your own robot? What kind of personality would your robot have?

Johnson has now enlisted the help of software house, Digital Forming, to introduce the next generation of design-your-robot tools.

Above: Original sketches by Sandy Winkelman and used by the Digital Forming team to develop the customization experience for 21st Century Robot.

 Previewing for the first time in Las Vegas Nevada at the Consumer Electronics Show, Digital Forming customization technology will allow makers to go beyond naming their 21st Century Robots. An intuitive online interface, designed by artist Sandy Winkelman and powered by Digital Forming technology, enables visionaries to customize the look, outward expressions, and personality traits of their robots.

“The goal of the 21st Century Robot Project has always been to get as many people imagining, designing, building and programming robots as possible. Now, with the help of Digital Forming, everyone can design and print their own robot model and we are one step closer to our dream.” Brian David Johnsonjkhgfcx



Above: The customization interface created by Sandy Winkelman for 21st Century Robot and brought to life with Digital Forming’s customization technology.


Artist Winkelman has created a fun and engaging 3D experience with Digital Forming to help makers impart 5 key character attributes into the look of their robots: Agreeableness; Conscientiousness; Extraversion; Neuroticism; and Openness. The first to launch at CES are Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.


Agreeableness: Agreeableness measures the extent of a robot’s warmth and kindness.  The more agreeable the robot is, the more likely they are to be trusting, helpful and compassionate.  Disagreeable robots are cold and suspicious of others and less likely to cooperate.


Conscientiousness: Robots who are conscientious are organized and have a strong sense of duty.  They’re dependable, disciplined and achievement-focused.  You won’t find conscientious types jetting off on a round-the-world journey with just a backpack—they’re planners.  Robots low in conscientiousness are more spontaneous and freewheeling.  They tend toward carelessness.


The customization interface will soon be integrated with Digital Forming’s 3D printing cloud production network, which will allow anyone to print the outer shell of their bespoke robot on-demand over the cloud, as well as at home on a desktop printer.


We are excited to see Digital Forming’s customization technology utilized by the 21st Century Robot Project, where robots are brought to life with charm and character from the sheer imagination of their creators.” Lisa Harouni, CEO of a Digital Forming.

Jimmy Flyer 


Above: A custom 21st Century Robot, 3D printed on-demand over the Digital Forming’s production cloud.

Watch these tools develop over the coming few months at


See tool introduction and walk-through with Brian David Johnson:


“The stuff of science fiction is fast becoming science fact” says the 21st Century Robot Project.




About 21st Century Robot

Renowned Futurist, Brian David Johnson, embarked on a journey to bring his fictional character, Jimmy the Robot, from his science fiction writing, to life as a 3D printable, open source programmable humanoid robot. Developers can program high level functions of the robot such as walking, animations, gestures and talking.


Just a few years ago, the idea of an advanced humanoid robot was out of the question. But the stuff of science fiction is fast becoming science fact. 21st Century Robot is advancing the capabilities and functionality of robots.

Jimmy is the first of the 21st Century Robots. He and his friends are powered by Intel’s Edison chip and run on a Linux open source C++ framework with complete lower-level programming. Gait, balance, and walking features have been fine-tuned and are ready to run, out of the box, allowing higher-level programmers to focus on creating new and exciting social interaction programs.



These are exciting times in the world of robotics. Jimmy’s advanced architecture is a major step on the path toward truly intelligent humanoid companion robots. The stuff of science fiction. The stuff of dreams.

About Digital Forming

Digital Forming is a vibrant team of customization experts based on the banks of the River Thames in London. The company is renowned for developing patented software solutions that empower retailers to create engaging customer experiences. The company is passionate about personalization, mass customization and co-creation.


Digital Forming was founded by four co-founders from science, creative and business backgrounds: Lisa Harouni, Dr Siavash Mahdavi, Assa Ashuach and Nicolas de Cordes. Initially, the founders focused on harnessing the power of 3D printing technologies for mass customization. Their mission was to break down the barriers that had previously prevented businesses for exploiting this group of technologies for bespoke on-demand production. To this end, they developed a platform, which today offers designers and design-led businesses access to over 200 different 3D print materials and finishes from manufacturers in more than 6 countries worldwide. This year, as their technology develops to new heights, the company is proud to offer Fortune 50 companies solutions for almost any customization process that is digitally-led.


The company was founded in 2009 and awarded an innovation grant from the UK government to develop their software as a prototype. Further funding was raised in 2012 from angels and strategic investors, EOS Electro Optical Systems, leading manufacturers of laser sintering systems. Since then, the company has continued to grow, generating strong press interest across media channels such as TED, WIRED, The Economist, Vogue, GQ, The Wall Street Journal and The International Herald Tribune.

Brian David Johnson

The future is Brian David Johnson’s business. As a futurist he works with organizations to develop an actionable 10 -15 year vision and what it will feel like to live in the future. His work is called futurecasting, using ethnographic field studies, technology research, cultural history, trend data, global interviews and even science fiction to provide a pragmatic roadmap of the future. As an applied futurist Johnson has worked with governments, militaries, trade organizations, start-ups and multinational corporations to not only help envision their future but specify the steps needed to get there.  Johnson is a futurist and fellow at Frost and Sullivan, a visionary innovation company focused on growth. He is also the futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.


Johnson speaks and writes extensively in ongoing columns for IEEE Computer Magazine and Successful Farming where he is the “Farm Futurist”.  He has contributed articles to publications like The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Wired Magazine.  Johnson holds over 30 patents and is the author of both science fiction and fact books (Humanity in the Machine, 21st Century Robot, Vintage Tomorrows and Science Fiction Prototyping). He was appointed first futurist ever at the Intel Corporation in 2009 where he worked for over a decade helping to design over 2 billion microprocessors.  Johnson appears regularly on Bloomberg TV, PBS, FOX News, and the Discovery Channel and has been featured in Scientific American, The Technology Review, Forbes, INC, and Popular Science.  He has directed two feature films and is an illustrator and commissioned painter.

Sandy Winkelman

Sandy Winkelman has always been weird.  He grew up in Austin Texas shooting BB guns into his neighbour’s open windows.  He’s a commissioned fine artist that refuses to sell his work.  As an art director at the brand powerhouse Nike, Sandy helps to craft consumer experiences for a broad global audience—all the time being influenced by all things peculiar and abnormal.  He has a passion for the distinctions between technology and the antiquated, exploring the possible spaces where those two meet.  With an engineer’s mind Sandy creates arrestingly believable technological visions rooted in an absurdist and often twisted present.   As a conceptual artist all his work tells a broad and rich story but he can never let go of the details…no really he can’t stop himself from capturing painstaking detail at the most minute level.  He has two dogs, one which listens to him and one that doesn’t.


For further details visit and, or to make an appointment, please contact:

Victoria May, Digital Forming at

Brian David Johnson, 21st Century Robot at

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