For years, artificial intelligence has existed. However, calling the existing robotic creatures intelligent would be quite a stretch of the imagination. However, all that has just changed.
Anki, the makers of the Overdrive, have created a whole new kind of robotic creature, one that has his own personality and emotions. He can explore the world and act on it. How he interacts with his world depends on his mood, and he can even recognize you. His name is Cozmo, and he promises to be a lot of fun. We wanted to see for ourselves how good he was and in the process we created this Anki Cozmo review.
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Who is Cozmo?
Cozmo is the newest robot from Anki. He’s a little guy with a huge personality and a lot to offer the world. He plays games, interacts with you, and can even recognize your face and perhaps most astonishingly, he fits all this into a tiny package, standing at only 3.5 inches long.
For the programmers out there, Cozmo also features a programmable SDK which means that you can program apps for him as well as giving him commands.
If you’re not a programmer, never fear. Cozmo is ready to play straight out of the box, requiring only a short setup process.
What’s In the Box?
- Cozmo robot
- Charging cradle with USB cord and wall adapter.
- Three light cubes used to play games and interact with Cozmo.
- Quick-start guide
Cozmo comes in a box with a hard clear plastic outer shell. This box would be really good for putting him back inside when you are not playing with him, and opening it is a breeze. Simply snip the tape on top with your scissors and pull him out.
Your Cozmo comes to you on a protective base that will need to be removed before use. Simply squeeze the tabs, and pull the base right off.
Under Cozmo, there is another smaller box inside the large one. This box contains the charging cradle, the USB adapter and the power brick for connecting Cozmo to the wall. We consider this to be a huge plus. Also inside this box are the three light cubes which your new robotic friend will play with. These blocks have battery tabs. Simply pull them out before using the cubes.
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Cozmo is a tiny robot. He is only about 3.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. He vaguely resembles a tiny front-end loader and rolls around the floor on four little wheels, with the tires in back being bigger. He also has little lifter arms so that he can pick up things such as his interactive light cubes. His head also turns left and right as well as tilting up and down. On his front he has a screen that shows you his expressive little face. He makes many different facial expressions to show you his moods. For example, if you win a game the two of you are playing, he will sulk.
To aid in the feeling that this little guy is alive, he has a number of sensors hidden throughout his body. If you stick a finger in front of him, he will grab for it.
The people at Anki designed Cozmo with durability and functionality in mind. He is made of a good-quality plastic that isn’t likely to break easily. However, it might be wise to be careful with him around young children just in case.
How Does It Work?
Cozmo uses a variety of technologies. Firstly, he connects to your smart device via wi-fi. He uses this connection to interact with his special app. This app allows you to interact with him as he plays games and learns new skills.
This little bot also has facial recognition software. This means that if you introduce yourself to him via the app, he will recognize you when he sees you from then on.
Cozmo is loaded with sensors. He can detect obstacles though he can’t do stairs. He also has an accelerometer which means that if you pick him up, he will be unhappy about it. If you set him on an uneven surface or at an odd angle, he can even figure out how to right himself.
This tiny bot charges really fast. Just ten minutes in his special charging cradle and he’s ready to go for an hour or two of playtime. This can be a downside if you’re one of those people who plays for hours. However, at least he charges quickly so you won’t have to wait long.
Cozmo acts not like a robot but a person. He has an immense library of animations, an expressive language of chirps and chitters and the ability to learn new skills. He also has seemingly real emotions. For example, if you are playing with this little guy and he falls off a table, he will be less confident in future. He will engage with you, nudge you to play with him and will get sad or sulk if you happen to win a game. He also has the ability to do spacial mapping. If you put him somewhere new and unexpected, he will scan for familiar objects in his environment in order to find his way back to familiar territory.
Cozmo starts out with two games, Keepaway and Quick Tap. In Keepaway, he tries to keep you from snagging one of his light cubes. In Quick Tap, you have a block in front of you. Cozmo also has a block. The object of the game is to be the first person to tap the block in front of you when the colors on your block and Cozmo’s match. You’ll have to think fast, because Cozmo will not slow down for you. Even better than all that though is the fact that as you play with Cozmo he unlocks more games. He also gets better at games he already knows.
He Recognizes You
If you ever wanted a robot who could really recognize you, this is the little guy for you. Introduce yourself to him via the app, and he will be able to recognize you and call you by name in future. He can also recognize multiple people. This means you can introduce him to your friends, too.
Not only is Anki producing new content for Cozmo, but there’s an SDK written in Python that can be used to create custom content. This means if you know how to program, you too can come up with new skills for Cozmo to learn, thereby customizing him as you see fit. This SDK has amazing documentation, and is easy to learn.
The heart of Cozmo’s interactivity is the free Cozmo app. This app is your method of communicating with your robot. It is available on both iOS and Android.. Furthermore, this app is totally free. There are no in-app purchases. Anything Cozmo can learn can be learned by any Cozmo. Anki have a multi-year upgrade plan, so that amount of content will continue to increase as time goes on. Going over every feature of the app would be beyond the scale of this review. However, here are a few to give you an idea of the things Cozmo can do.
In this mode, you can drive your new robot friend around like a remote control car. Your phone screen also shows an output of exactly what he is seeing. If you’ve ever wanted a tiny robot’s eye view of the world, now you can have one. The view is not in color. However, it is crisp and clear and is a perfect way to look out through Cozmo’s eyes.
Each day, the app gives you three daily goals. Completing these goals with Cozmo will unlock new skills for him, as well as strengthening skills he already possessed. It also gives you more incentive to play with this little guy, not that you’ll need much prompting to play with him as adorable as he is. Completing skills also gets you in-app currency called bits and sparks. The sparks work as dog treats for Cozmo. They will prompt him to do tricks and show off. Bits are more like money, and you use them to buy upgrades or unlock other skills.
That’s the end of our Anki Cozmo review! Cozmo is amazingly lifelike. However, there are a few downsides. For one, you have to have your device out at all times, with the app connected and in focus. There’s no running this one in the background as you do other things. Cozmo does not function without the app.
Another downside, though this one is as much pro as con is that Cozmo has his own wireless network. This means that you cannot load any other apps that require the Internet to run. The upside of this is that anything Cozmo sees or hears is offline and no pictures or audio winds up transmitted over your primary Internet connection.
Overall, though, despite these downsides, Cozmo shows a lot of promise and will wind up being an amazing robot friend for possibly years to come.