Anki’s Cozmo Robot Offers Personality, Learning

(Photo: Anki)

(Photo: Anki)

A new age of robotics might just be around the corner and may change how we think of robots forever.

Cozmo, a tiny toy robot, has been released by a company called Anki. Anki has blended artificial intelligence and brand new technology, notes Rich Demuro and Vanessa Ayala of KTLA, and the little robot's big personality has become a strong selling point.

Cozmo is a smartphone-controlled robot and is the newest robotics effort from the company. Anki garnered some attention with their smartphone-controlled race cars, called Overdrive, at an Apple event.

Nick Stratt, writing for Verge, notes the little robot's similarities to certain animated Pixar characters. Cozmo was actually intended to look that way and was specifically modeled after Wall-E.

Anki is promoting their new robot with short videos they are calling "Cozmoments." The first video they have released shows Cozmo sneaking up on a dog while it sleeps and waking it with a tap on the tail.

"There's certainly a lot of products out there that want to be a pet or a toy robot or robot companion, but all of them really lack the ability to truly see and understand their environment," says Boris Sofman, Chief Executive at Anki.

Cozmo is being released in October at an initial price of $179, Piya Sinha-Roy writes for Business Insider — not a bad price point for a robot capable of learning to recognize faces and that can learn to play games.

"The reason we love the robots we see in movies so much is because they don't just respond with the same canned responses, they surprise you. It's taken years but our technology is finally to a point where we can build a robot with personality—and bring some of the things you see in the movies to real life," Says Hanns Tappeiner, co-founder, and president of Anki.

Cozmo will run around your home with its own soundtrack that changes based on how it's "feeling" at the time. Anki wants Cozmo to feel like a real character that people can interact with as users teach it to learn and grow just by virtue of playing with it.

The best way to interact with Cozmo, demonstrated by Nathan Olivarez-Giles writing for The Wall Street Journal, is to play games with it using the blocks it can manipulate. Cozmo also comes equipped with an app that allows you to type in your name so that Cozmo can say it.

Cozmo pairs directly with a user's smartphone, so there is no concern of passing information off to a third party. Anki is also thinking of making an episodic series for the little robot with weekly updates.

Users have found that Cozmo can be rather talented at the games he plays. While on easy settings Cozmo is able to be beaten consistently, the more difficult settings can make it a real challenge. Part of what makes Cozmo so talented is his "emotion engine," which is what gives him spatial awareness and decision-making capabilities.

"Cozmo never gives you the same reaction twice. The head movement, the arm movement, the ways his eyes animate on his face, or the inflection of his voice—the combinations change to create personality," Tappeiner has stated.

Anki has already stated that more content is in the works for Cozmo, and the company has offered a discounted price of
$160 for preorders. Anki is committed to putting out enough content for the little robot to remain fresh and interesting for some time to come.

08 25, 2016
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