Toy robots have been around for decades, but this new product from the San Francisco-based startup Anki does a few things differently. As Gizmodo reports, Cozmo combines artificial intelligence and engaging animation to give owners a one-of-a-kind play experience.
Cozmo’s most distinctive feature is his expressive face. Using an OLED screen that displays a pair of solid-blue eyes, the toy is able to convey a wide range of emotions. They were designed by Carlos Baena, a former Pixar animator who’s no stranger to getting people to connect with non-human characters. His credits include Finding Nemo (2003), Cars (2006), and WALL-E (2008), but unlike the characters he’s helped bring to life on screen this latest project is something people can actually interact with.
Cozmo uses a camera, which runs at 15 frames per second, hidden in a mouth-like slot to assess his surroundings. He sends the video to a nearby smartphone and relies on its computing power to calculate the instructions for his next move. This allows him to recognize the faces of the people he plays with and keep track of his location at all times.
In addition to being able to roll around the room like a tiny bulldozer, Cozmo can also play games using the toy cubes he lifts above his head with a fork-lift-like arm. The robot’s emotions vary as each game progresses: His eyes may narrow in concentration as he’s stacking his blocks or he may gloat to his competitor after a victory.
The toy is set to hit the market for $180 in October, and it can be pre-ordered online for a special price of $160. For a closer look at how the Anki team made Cozmo a reality, check out the video below.
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