As the name might suggest, Sphero's claim to fame is its sphere-shaped toy robots. These include the original Sphero, Sphero 2.0, Sphero Mini, BB-8, and BB-9E. The company has also been marketing some of its products towards education as STEM learning tools, particularly with the SPRK+.
Sphero's latest product is another educational robot - the Bolt. It's a minor upgrade from the existing SPRK+, with a configurable LED matrix display, infrared sensors for communicating with other robots, and "more than two hours of continuous play."
I think the Sphero Bolt is a well-designed product, but I'm not sure there's enough value to justify the $150 price tag, especially when it's only an iterative improvement over the company's existing robots. Read More
A few months ago, I reviewed the Collectors Edition of Anki's popular 'Cozmo' robot. Cozmo was first and foremost a toy, but the app included a 'Code Lab' where owners could create simple block-based programs (Anki has even extended that in subsequent updates).
After that review, Wonder Workshop asked me if I wanted to try out two of its toy robots - the 'Dot' and 'Cue.' Unlike the Cozmo, where coding functionality was more of an afterthought, programming is at the heart of the Dot and Cue. Almost all the activities you can do with these robots involve some level of coding, but they are accessible enough for most kids to get some enjoyment out of them. Read More
Back in September, I got to try out the Cozmo Collector's Edition, a re-release of the 'Cozmo' app-controlled toy from last year. I definitely enjoyed using it, but the high price point of $179 made it a tough sell for many. Now you can get the original version for $127, a savings of $53. Read More
After a nearly 12-year absence, Sony announced the return of the aibo robot pet. The new model of aibo, ERS-1000, uses an unspecified 64-bit quad core CPU, in addition to a variety of custom-developed actuators and sensors allowing aibo to move freely and interact with humans and the environment. The aibo can move its body along 22 axes, and can provide visual cues with OLED-display eyes. Four microphones and a speaker facilitate audio input and output, and two fisheye cameras with simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) capabilities allow it to detect objects, in much the same way self-driving car technology works. Read More
When I was young, I absolutely loved toy robots. I remember having a particular fascination for toys from WowWee, like the 'Robosapien' and the 'Roboraptor.' I managed to convince my parents one year to get the Roboraptor for my birthday, which I still own to this day. It was pretty basic by today's standards (the most advanced part of it was the IR sensor), but it was awesome at the time.
A few years later, I got my hands on the second-generation LEGO Mindstorms NXT. It was a robotics kit with pieces like IR sensors and motors, but it used LEGO's standard 'Technic' pieces. Read More
Robots are cool and, when designed and executed properly, robots can be quite endearing and awesome. But at $2800 a pop with very little added benefits, this one is definitely straddling the line to absurd territory.
Announced at IFA by QIHAN Technology (apparently a company specialized in AI and robotics), the Sanbot Nano is a 2.7 feet tall (848mm) robot that tries hard to look like a little kid. It has rotating head and arms, and is decked with sensors (IR, PIR, obstacle detection, touch sensor), 7 microphones, 250 lights, 2 tweeters and a subwoofer, a 3D camera, and a 10.1" touchscreen display. Read More
Cozmo, which is unfortunately unrelated to Cozmo Kramer, is a fairly popular interactive toy robot. It can stack tiny blocks, play games, and be controlled like a typical RC car. If you've been waiting to try it out, you can now buy Cozmo off Amazon for $152.99, a $27 reduction from the usual price. Read More
It can be hard to keep up with all the major voice assistants - Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, Alexa, the list goes on. SoundHound, perhaps best known for its music recognition app, has been working on its Hound voice assistant since 2015. At CES, SoundHound announced they have partnered up with Onkyo and Shenzhen to produce Hound-powered speakers and robots, respectively. Read More
We are less than a week out from Christmas, so you procrastinators better get going on gift shopping. Luckily, Best Buy has you covered for the tech geek on your list. The electronics retailer is offering the Sphero Ollie robot for $49.99. which is a nice $50 savings. Read More