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The Tiny, AI-Powered Smart Toy Cozmo Has Been Winning The Hearts

Cozmo, the palm-sized robot from the San Francisco-based company Anki, is both a harmless toy and bold refutation of that uneasy relationship so loved by television and film. The $180 bot, which starts shipping on October 16th, is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and the end result is a WALL-E-inspired personality more akin to a clever pet than a do-everything personal assistant.

Anki even hired Pixar animators to ensure the companion robot Cozmo has an expressive and friendly face. The animators studied Cozmo’s design in order to make sure the robot moves in a flexible and cool manner, more similar to the Wall-E than Aibo. The team of developers also created an AI system for the Cozmo, so the robot is able to recognize faces and emotions.

anki-cozmo
palm-sized robot

Phone-connected robot

The Cozmo has some surprising tricks that seem impossible for a thing its size, and that’s because it is using a Wi-Fi connection to a phone to aid its computer vision and behavior. The phone acts as a processor for robot, but internet connection is not needed. The Cozmo won’t work, however, unless it is paired to a phone. It is a definite phone ‘app-cessory’ toy, more than a true stand-alone Robot. Once it’s paired, the Cozmo runs for an hour before needing to recharge and snooze on its cradle.

Three cubes that come included are connected to the Cozmo and covered in readable codes. They also blink in multiple colors. The Cozmo can find, stack, topple and play with cubes, and a few games use them. One, a pattern-matching reflex contest, pits people against the Cozmo to tap a block if colored lights match. At first, I beat it very easily. Later on, I realized it was toying with me.

Battery & Price:

Cozmo will play around 60 to 90 minutes and will sleep when it’s out of battery. Yes, it will snores when sleeping. Just another fine example of well-thought personality quirks. Adorable and Cutesy might be an initially tough sell for the consumers at $180. But Anki is set to open up Cozmo’s SDK for developers to create apps that will extend Cozmo’s overall functionality.

Cozmo is now available from Anki’s website, retailing for $180.