It’s well over a decade since Robosapien exploded onto the high-tech toy market, wowing us all with its ability to walk around, pick up objects, talk to us and even throw those same objects at us. It quickly became a cult toy, undergoing open source software modifications, allowing it to perform an increasing number of tasks. In Germany, an all-robot soccer match was held between the universities of Freiburg and Osnabruck.
Fans of Robosapien will be thrilled to learn that the company behind the toy, Hong Kong-based designer and developer WowWee, is planning to release its next robotic baby into the market this coming fall. The cute little newcomer is named COJI, and he showed his face to the public at ToyFair earlier in the year. COJI has inherited some of the appearance of his celebrated ancestor, along with some newly evolved traits. He stands about the size of a human hand, his body encased in smart, black and white shelling. As you may expect, he has two arms and two legs (with tracks), and his face is a screen. As far as robots go, he’s about as endearing as they come.
COJI was brought into the world to take on the important task of encouraging youngsters to get into coding. Furthermore, he would be equipped for this undertaking with an emoji-based coding language, which kids have access to by connecting a mobile device. COJI’s task is coding with emojis, and his name reflects this.
The little robot can be commanded to perform various movements and facial expressions through the mobile app. It’s accessible to even the youngest users, as COJI will respond to actions such as shaking as tilting, too. It looks like a good bet that COJI will be many kids’ new best friend as the year comes to an end – particularly around the gift giving season, as he’s available for a mere $60.
Another welcome addition to the WowWee family is on the way, in the form of LUMI. This drone might well be the most user-friendly design to date. The family resemblance to CHiP – the WowWee dog robot (which is also due to jump into the market before too long) – is uncanny. They share the same proximity technology which enable them to execute complicated maneuvers safely and intelligently.
LUMI, a small and self-contained drone unit, is also controlled via a mobile app. Users can exploit the little drone’s maneuverability to the fullest by programming sequences of complex aerobatics. There is even a facility for choreographing movements to music, allowing users to be entertained by LUMIs own synchronized flying skills. The main drawback with LUMI at the moment is her limited battery life – it will need to be charged or swapped after 10 minutes. Like COJI, we should expect to be seeing a large number of LUMIs arrive in homes this fall (especially those with kids), as she retails for a very reasonable $80. For those have grown up and look back to Robosapien with nostalgia, this could turn out to be a great year.