Meet Cozmo, A Smart Toy Robot For The Masses

Humans and robots have a sort of love-hate relationship. While they are mostly used for automatizing some actions, making them faster and more efficient (like assembling cars), they are seen by humanity as a potential threat that could ultimately wipe out our race. This image was made by numerous movies and novels showing robots as evil machines with a sole goal of wiping our society. But the reality is a bit different. For robots to actually have mankind-wipe plans they need to think and to think we need to make a proper AI, which won’t happen anytime soon.

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Until robots rise and conquer us, we can use them for them for aiding us, doing work too hazardous to be done by human beings, like cleaning radioactive waste or disarming mines. On the other side, we have robots made for human interaction. They can show emotions, can perform tricks, and can even aid elderly in their day-to-day chores.

Cozmo, a tiny robot coming from a company based in San Francisco, Anki, is a machine that can do lots of things with a focus on its lively personality. The robot is powered by AI, enabling Cozmo to react to various situations, in a way a human would. The emotion engine Anki has programmed the robot with simulates human emotions, with dozens of personality displays his Wall-E shaped “eyes” can show. Anki even employed one former Pixar animator in order to make Cozmo look more lively, to make his emotion displays look more natural.

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In addition to emotional expressions, Cozmo uses a facial recognition algorithm allowing it to remember faces, connect faces with names and later recite the names when a certain person plays with him. He can also plan paths with the help of three toy cubes armed with sensors that come along Cozmo. All this enables Cozmo to play games with humans (using the three cubes already mentioned), to free roam through your room or a table; it can even be used as a remote camera since the robot is controlled via a mobile app.

The mobile app is pretty interesting, Aside from using it to control Cozmo, it also uses gamification techniques, giving you daily goals and prizes in the form of new Cozmo’s actions after completing goals. The app also serves as a bridge between Cozmo and cloud servers used for computing most of the actions since the robot is equipped with pretty basic hardware.

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The tiny robot is aimed at kids and teenagers and can be your for $180. The problem with Cozmo is that robot doesn’t have a large behavior library, it’s capable of performing a limited number of actions, and the app used for controlling it is a bit too complex for kids to use it. Nevertheless, the emotion engine used is quite advanced, having tremendous potential. Imagine what could a modified Cozmo do for kids stuck at hospitals, without company for most of the day, just one of the numerous potential uses of Cozmo’s advanced emotional engine.

Anki is releasing a software development kit that could push Cozmo’s boundaries even further, but its limitations are pretty obvious. We hope that Cozmo is just some kind of proof-of-concept and that Anki will release more complex robots in the future since Cozmo is basically just an advanced toy/ artificial pet.

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