Anki’s Cozmo Shows the Humanistic Potential of AI Products

October 20, 2016 - 2 minutes read


When most people think of robots, they think of the tropes played out in popular culture: Terminator war machines, job-guzzling automation devices, and other mostly negative, faceless stereotypes. Even the AI assistants trotted out by Android and Apple app developers have been met with a sense of distrust, especially when it comes to “always-listening” products like Echo.

Anki has developed a unique alternative to that negative view with their latest offering: a softball-sized robotic pet that transcends the stereotypes of it’s Furby predecessors with a unique blend of smartphone-enabled AI logic and a shockingly good facial recognition system that makes it highly personalized — and even lovable.

The tech press has been quick to point out the creation’s similarity to Wall-E, and the comparisons are warranted. The little bot is driven by a similar tiny-tank style drive train, and it’s acrobatic prowess defies what app developers would expect from a toy. Emotional chirps and whistles complete the picture, reminiscent of the alien yet familiar language of R2-D2.

What’s really interesting about the bot is its facial recognition software, which allows it to “bond” with an owner and react in different ways to different people — much like a dog, cat, or other “analog” companion. The device also comes with a few cubes and accessories designed for use in simple games, which should provide plenty of entertainment even for adults dazzled by the reactiveness of the robot.

At $180 this is a great stocking stuffer for techies. Bay area app developers might find it expensive for a toy, but it’s cheap for the sake of providing a more positive, friendly picture of how AI and mobile apps can integrate into our lifestyles.

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