C-3PO.jpgWhen I think of a “robot” two things happen. First, I picture the iconic droid C-3PO from the Star Wars movie franchise. Second, I involuntarily start to sing the 1980’s Styx classic Mr. Roboto … Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto, Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto. But a robot isn’t necessarily a shiny golden humanoid or the subject of an annoyingly catchy song … Secret, secret, I’ve got a secret. In fact, according to Webster’s dictionary, a “robot” is “a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks” or “a mechanism guided by automatic controls.” So by those definitions, it’s clear that we are truly surrounded by robots. Don’t believe me? Here are some fun and some functional items that are robots by definition. You might even have one of these at home already!

Fun Robot #1 – Sphero Ollie App-Controlled RobotSphero-1.jpg

The Sphero Ollie was one of the hottest toys this past Christmas and if you’ve seen it in action, you’ll know why. It’s a remote controlled vehicle that kinda looks like R2D2 if he were to have fallen over, shrunk, and been equipped with tires. So, nothing like him at all, but I digress. The Ollie is smaller than a football and runs on two wheels and one cylinder. The cool part though is that Ollie doesn’t come with a remote. Instead you control it from up to 30m away through the Sphero app on your smartphone or tablet. Did I mention you can get Ollie going as fast as 25km/hr? So, Ollie is “guided by automatic controls” and therefore = robot.

FuZoomer-Robot-Dog.jpgn Robot #2 – Zoomer Robot Dog

A dog that can be trained, doesn’t go to the bathroom, doesn’t destroy your shoes, and comes with an off switch? Sign me up! The Zoomer Robot Dog is a fantastic toy for developing creative play, imagination, and responsibility in kids. Zoomer is fully interactive and it is up to the “owner” to train him and teach him tricks. He can learn how to sit down, roll over, do tricks, and play just like a real dog, and can respond to English, French, and Spanish. And the more you play with Zoomer, the more he’ll interact with you. So, Zoomer is also “guided by automatic controls” and therefore = robot.

Functional Robot #1 – iRobot 380T Braava Floor Mopping RobotiRobot-Braava.jpg

I had an opportunity to review the iRobot Braava Mopping Robot a little while ago, and let me tell ya, it’s pretty dang cool. It’s “brain” or “the Cube” is essentially a GPS device that you place in the centre of your space (you might need multiple depending on the size of your home) that maps out your rooms. Then it gets down to work. It systematically goes back and forth over your floors either sweeping or mopping, depending on the setting you’ve selected, letting you focus on work, kids, or the latest in reality TV. So, while sweeping and mopping aren’t exactly complicated tasks, they are repetitive, so we can say the Braava is “a device that performs complicated or often repetitive tasks” and therefore = robot.


Functional Robot #2 – Neato Robotics XV Signature Pro Robotic Vacuum

Much like the iRobot Braava, the Neato Robotic Vacuum makes easy work out of removing grit, grime, hair, dander, and fiber from your carpeted, hardwood and tile floors; and it does so via a versatile brush system, two high performance filters and … wait for it … a laser guided navigation system. Come on folks. It’s got lasers. I can just picture Dr. Evil with one of these things. It even navigates itself back to its charging base when it’s finished cleaning. A “device that performs often repetitive tasks” AND it’s got a laser guided navigation system = robot for sure.

Like I said before, we are surrounded by robots. It’s just that they’ve become such a common part of our day-to-day lives we don’t think of them as “robots” … they’re just gadgets that entertain, amuse, or perhaps make our lives a little bit easier. So my question for you is – what will be the next robot you bring into your home?

Stacey McGregor
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.