The WowWee MiP is the latest robot from the makers of Robosapien. The obvious difference is that MiP uses two wheels to whizz around your living room whilst following your commands or just having fun. MiP has recently been doing its thing around my flat for the last few days.
The WowWee MiP (Mobile inverted Pendulum) robot is the first of its kind on the mass market. It’s a toy robot that does what most other toy robots do: it rolls around your living room floor, making cute noises as it goes and bumps in to things.
MiP does all this with a certain degree of style though as there’s plenty of clever tech in this adorable bot.
MiP – the balancing robot
The mechanical design of MiP is not inherently stable – when MiP is turned off, it will not stand upright on its own wheels (a handy stand is provided for display so it doesn’t face-plant every time you switch it off). The robot’s balance is instead taken care of by an onboard sensor suite and powerful ARM Cortex processor which keeps it teetering upright.
Yup, just like anyone that has ridden a Segway.
In the box there’s an attachable tray, which allows MiP to carry objects around while still balancing upright, and it can even support the weight of another MiP, or a can/small bottle of beer (which is more useful). Don’t try it with a 400ml can though. This little buddy has limits you know.
If you’ve got a group of MiPs then they can be linked into a coordinated dance mode, keeping in time with each other like small, glowing line-dancers.
There are a number of ways to control MiP. You can do so either through waving gestures in front of the robot, by controlling it via an iPhone or Android app as if it was a remote control car, or by pre-setting the instructions just like you used to do on Big Trak.
The ‘GestureSense Technology’ means that waving your hand in front of MiP will get it moving around and even following you. Move your hand away slowly and the little tyke will start trundling forwards, move your hand towards it and it will give out a little “woah” and then go in to reverse. Just put your hand up in front and it’ll stop. You can wave it left or right as well.
For less random control you can download the smartphone app.
The app gives you access to MiP Drive which hands the controls over to you using your smartphone’s touchscreen for forwards, backwards, left and right. Hold down on one of the directions and MiP will go in to a spin – until it gets dizzy and falls over.
Of course MiP also has a mind of its own.
Turning the little droid’s wheel makes its chest light change colour and each one corresponds to a special MiP mode.
When the light is red that’s when it’ll perform tricks, kinda like a pet would. Orange and MiP will follow you around, white will keep it in a virtual cage so it can’t go wondering off, whereas yellow is ‘Roam mode’. Green will see the bot bust some moves in ‘Dance mode’ and pink gets the droid to play a robot version of Buckaroo!
Having it set in Track mode whilst it follows you with a stubby of beer is a joy and when MiP is in Roam mode it’s fun watching it explore its surroundings. Hearing the little bot enthuse “music!” and start dancing along to its own beat is great entertainment.
I never thought that I’d call a piece of tech adorable but this is one of the only gadgets that my girlfriend has asked “can we keep him?“.
MiP uses 4 AAA batteries that are put into the robot’s backpack which is secured by 3 phillips-head screws. MiP has about 4-6 hours of moderate usage with new alkaline batteries and up to 1-2 days with very low usage.
I was going to state that MiP could be improved if it used rechargeable cells via its own little dock but I have been informed that there will be a rechargeable version available this autumn. I will update once more detailed specs are available.
RRP is £99.99 but MiP is available now at £85.99 from Find me a Gift.