The Cozmo is no different, bringing with it a Pixar-inspired design and the ability to interact intelligently with its handler. Capable of fitting in the palm of your hand, Cozmo looks somewhat like a miniature forklift, or as Anki calls it, a “supercomputer on treads.” The Pixar similarities extend to Cozmo’s OLED face, which is a dead ringer for Eve’s mug (a former Pixar animator is on Anki’s design team which explains the similarities). It’s here that you’ll be able to see Cozmo’s emotions; hundreds of which can be put on display to mimic human behavior.
Those expressive LED “eyes” are capable of detecting a human’s presence and even remember individuals. When Cozmo first encounters you, the accompanying iPhone/Android app will prompt you to input your name. From that moment forward, the tiny little robot will call you by name, follow you around and store any interaction that it has had with you in the past to draw from on future encounters.
“Smarts aside, Cozmo’s heart and soul rests within his emotion engine, which evolves as you develop a bond,” writes the Anki team. “He’s brought to life with complex facial expressions, a host of emotions, and his own voice and language. His dynamic soundtrack matches his mood and corresponds with the games and activities, elevating playtime to a uniquely cinematic experience.”
Cozmo uses this knowledge to engage you with games and challenges. Each retail device will come with a set of blocks (or Power Cubes as Anki calls them) that can be used to play games like Quick Tap, Memory Match, and Keepaway. Cozmo is a conniving little bot and will quickly learn your weakness (and learn from its mistakes) to beat you in future encounters. And it performs all of these interaction with humor and spunk, which will keep children coming back for more — not to mention adults that haven’t abandoned their inner child.
The Anki Cozmo will ship this October, and will be priced at $179.99 in retail stores. However, you can preorder Cozmo today and save $20 (you’ll also receive the bot two days ahead of general availability). In the box, you’ll find Cozmo, a charging dock and three Power Cubes – and hopefully enough varied and enjoyable interactivity to justify its price tag.