I have been quite excited about Anki’s latest ‘toy’ with artificial intelligence. I just know that Cozmo is going to be a Christmas hit. I’ve met him a couple of times at shows but, recently, he came to stay with me for a couple of weeks.
If you have managed to miss my posts about Cozmo, let me attempt to describe him.
He is a little robot forklift. But, he has an extremely expressive face / screen. It is like he has been lifted straight out of a Pixar film.
Furthermore, he is clever. Also, with those smarts, he can be a little bit mischeivous too.
Released in the US last year, he is not only a robot / pet /companion toy, but it’s also a device that will help those who use it to learn how to code.
Cozmo is an attention seeker. A very adorable attention seeker.
It’s got two treads (although the review unit was missing one) that help get him around. These are customisable, with a number of colorful options available as optional extras
He is clothed in a plastic shell and has a small cubed screen up front. That seems unkind though – it’s his face.
Cozmo will easily sit in your palm and is quite light. He is sturdy enough to survive falls from tables though.
He has status lights on the top, near the back. These change color depending on what Cozmo is doing. There’s also a little LED on the front.
On his underside there’s a charging plate and a sensor.
Cozmo uses his arm to interact with the three power cubes that come in the pack. Also in the pack is a charging dock, where Cozmo goes to get power and to sleep.
It’s a well made little robot but it only really comes in to its own when powered-up and linked to the app.
Getting started with Cozmo is one of those things that will probably involve an adult. So, if given to younger kids as a gift, it’s probably best to get this bit sorted beforehand.
When you load the app up, it connects with Cozmo through its own Wi-Fi. Then Cozmo will display a very long numerical code on his face screen. Also, during this time, Cozmo needs to be in the charging dock for it to connect.
The app will also take you through some calibration tests. There is even a point where you have to look Cozmo square in the screen so that he will recognise you. In the video above I am sure he joyfully shouts “Jay!”… ~heart melts~
Cozmo is like a very needy pet. There is a section in the app called Needs.
The idea is that you have to play with Cozmo, feed it and also give it regular tune-ups.
The good thing is that none of this feels like a chore as you will enjoy interacting with Cozmo and being part of his life.
Energy is one of the Needs that has to be topped up. He gets energy from one of the three power cubes. All you have to do is shake a cube until you hear the energy grow and all the square light up. Then you can put the cube in front of Cozmo. He will then trundle up to it and sups the energy from it. It’s great to watch and the sound effects are perfect for it.
Play is the most fun and will make up a significant part of your time with Cozmo. You keep its play energies up by interacting with him, doing stunts and also help it learn faces.
As mentioned earlier, Cozmo will recognise a number of faces. All you have to do is add in your name and let him look up at you adoringly for a few seconds. He gets a little excited and then say your name (I’m sure he does). Furthermore, the best but is that the next time it sees you, he’ll recognise you. If this doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzies, then you have a cold, cold heart.
Cozmo also learns words. This is a lot of fun, although sometimes his diction is a little slurred on occassions. Good news for parents, he is a good little droid and refuses to say anything rude. He even gets a little angry and embarrassed.
He is prone to throwing tantrums. He gets frustrated when things don’t go his way. Also, if you pick him up and hold him for too long he’ll get impatient.
Oh, and he really doesn’t like being pushed over. Although, the noises he makes are great, especially when you see the accompanying facial expressions. He is cute when he’s angry 😀
He is quite happy just to explore in ‘Free Play’ mode, muttering to himself. He gives himself a little cheer if he manages to do something. I am also convinced that he does this just to get your attention.
Playing with your new robotic pet is one thing. However, Cozmo does have a serious side.
Flick over to the code lab section of the app and you’ll be amazed at just how clever Cozmo is.
Through this simple, intuitive interface you are able to link up a number of blocks together and ‘code’ Cozmo to do a number of things.
This gives the user a great insight in to what makes the robot tick. It also gives Cozmo the toy plenty more depth and longevity.
The coding language underneath the hood is Scratch but what Anki has managed to do is simplify complex arrangements so it never feels like schoolwork. Another genius move by Anki
Cozmo review conclusion
If you don’t fall under Cozmo’s charms then you are a rare human. This is my vote for best Christmas Tech Gift 2017!
I found myself trying to reason with the little fella when I was trying to photograph him. The AI and facial expressions really do give him a character of his own.
Like Anki’s Overdrive racing game, Cozmo’s simple and fun exterior diguises the complex brain within.
Cozmo is an intelligent and fun toy and being app-driven means that updates are easy to get. This also helps with the bot’s lifespan.
Anki Cozmo price and availability
Cozmo usually costs £199.99 but is currently on Amazon for £159.98!
The box says from 8 years and up – this tech geek is the wrong side of 45 and has added one to his Christmas wish list.