A few days ago I posted a blog called Robots to Keep Your Floors Clean. Today I continue the theme with a look at several fun robots that are sure to entertain your family. What’s more, these’s robots also have the benefit of being highly educational! Keep on reading if you enjoy robots and love to learn while you’re having fun!
The first bot up for consideration today is MiP 2 – The Balancing Robot by WowWee. As you can see from the photo, MiP 2 is available either in a black & silver colour scheme, or in a white & black deco. Aside from colour, both units are otherwise exactly the same. MiP 2’s major claim to fame is his excellent balance. He’s got the ability to roll around on his 2 wheels without losing his balance—even when busy carrying things. MiP 2 works with a free app (iOS and Android compatible) that allows you to drive him around and play fun games like stacking objects & navigating obstacle courses. MiP 2 is even up for a dance when someone hits the music! And thanks to WowWee’s inclusion of GestureSense Technology, you can easily control your MiP 2 with the simple wave of a hand. All up, MiP 2 is a fun and educational little robot that’s great for kids ages 8 and up. With an immersive personality (thanks to a variety of mood chips) & Heightened Response Technology (that allows MiP 2 to instantly respond to your commands), there’s certainly a lot here for kids to enjoy and to learn from.
Another fun & educational bot from the same good folks at WowWee is CHiP – The Robotic Dog—one of the most popular robotic toys of the entire Fall season, and for very good reason! CHiP is not merely a cool robot, he’s also just like a real dog (aside from the fact that he can be a bit of a dancing fool when you lift his front paws off the ground). CHiP is loyal, friendly, and he can even go for a walk with you thanks to his included Smart Band device, which allows CHiP to recognize your position and follow you around just like an actual dog. CHiP also comes with his own Smart Ball, so you can play fetch if you want him to get a little bit of robotic exercise. CHiP is really fast too—especially when chasing that ball! When playtime is over, CHiP is very loving and affectionate (also just a real dog). For instance, he can nuzzle with you if you rub your nose against his, only CHiP doesn’t have an annoying wet nose like most other dogs. Rounding out CHiP’s major capabilities, he can even be trained to obey your voice commands through the free CHiP App. This app works with your favourite smart device and is both Android and iOS compatible, making for a very happy experience for most of today’s tech savvy pet lovers. It’s no wonder that CHiP has proven so popular this season!
Here to complete the WowWee hat trick is COJI – The Coding Robot. I recently did a complete written (and video) review of this happy little chap, but I’ll still provide you with a few of his key details & specs right here. First, there are several fun ways to interact with your COJI. There’s Freeplay, where you give COJI any of a number of icon based commands and watch him carry out the command code string that you’ve programmed. This helps kids to develop a basic understanding of command code algorithms (i.e., computer programming). Another of COJI’s main games is Sequence Says. In this one, COJI flashes an ever increasing list of icons across his screen, and kids must remember the icons (and their order) and repeat them back to their COJI via the COJI App. If the child gets the string correct, COJI keeps on going, adding a new icon to the end of the coding string after each correctly played round. This game, then, is a memory development game, which falls perfectly in line with COJI’s educational mission. After all, COJI is a STEM based learning toy, meaning his greatest wish is to help kids learn and become more interested in (and not intimidated by) the key STEM fields. These consist of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Other fun games to be enjoyed through the COJI include Macro Maze (a navigational game where you learn to command your COJI through increasingly difficult mazes by giving the proper command code sequence to guide him through them), Command Center, & Drive Mode (a free-for-all mode in which you can drive your COJI all over the house just like a Radio Controlled vehicle).
Also available is the Meccano Meccanoid G15 Personal Robot, which brings a multitude of play patterns & endless learning opportunities to the table. Better still, this guy also comes in a larger “kid size” version, which is twice as big at nearly 4 feet tall. Both versions of the Meccanoid are bots that you build yourself, and both versions also feature the brilliant “Meccabrain,” which ensures that your robotic friend always got lots to say. For instance, he can tell corny jokes that kids are sure to love, and he can utter over 1000 pre-programmed phrases in all. This fun and friendly bot even features something called “Learned Intelligent Movement (LIM) Technology.” This allows Mr. Meccanoid to remember movement patterns and the things you say and play them back for you. All you have to do is set the Meccanoid to record and begin moving his arms and head around and saying what you want him to repeat back. When you play the recording back, not only does Meccanoid say what you said (in your very own voice), but he also goes through all of the actions that you programmed his servos (motors) to remember. It’s a really cool feature that will entertain kids and adults alike.
Finally, Meccanoid has his own special app that brings even more options to the table. For instance, he can “see” and mimmic your movements thanks to the camera in your smart phone, or you can use the “Ragdoll” avatar feature to make your Meccanoid move its limbs as you command. Of course, the larger version Meccanoid has additional motors that the smaller bot doesn’t have, so his (or is it her?) movements are somewhat more advanced than his smaller cousin’s movements. For instance, the KS Meccanoid has articulated (and motorized) elbows, whereas the littler bot only has movement at the shoulders.
Last but not least is the Sphero SPRK+ Robotic Ball. As a round ball, the SPRK+ is not your conventional humanoid robot. However, it’s absolutely packed with fun and educational qualities. For one thing, the Sphero SPRK+ uses the (free) Lightning Lab App to visually teach kids the basic principles of computer programming. As kids select different icons, or blocks, from the app interface, they actually write computer code. This is so because each different block represents a different command to the robot. Users can make the SPRK+ roll wherever they want it to roll, or they can make it turn any colour of the rainbow. There’s simply no limit to the myriad ways that kids can program this ball and have it obey their every command!
Among the other great qualities of the Sphero SPRK+ are the facts that it’s both completely waterproof & fully shockproof. This means that you can make it swim in your pool or roll around in a rainy day puddle. And, if it runs into a wall or some other obstacle at full Sphero speed, it’s absolutely tough enough to handle the impact! Moreover, thanks to the power of Bluetooth SMART, the Sphero SPRK+ has an impressive range of 30 meters, and it also offers users a fun online platform where they can share command algorithms and collaborate with other users all over the world to create new and interesting programs and movement patterns. A creative child with an interest in computers & programming couldn’t get bored with this toy if they tried!
If you think I’ve covered all, or even most, of the amazing robotic toys that currently reside at Best Buy and are just dying to entertain your family, then you’re way, way off! For a comprehensive list of all of Best Buy’s amazing Smart Toys & Robotics products, click on the link and feast your eyes. You’re sure to find a robot that meets with your approval. Have fun and I’ll see you in my next blog!