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.Tags: Android, android app developer, app developer, app development, app idea, app marketing, Apple, apple app store, facebook, Google, hacking, iOS, mobile commerce, monetization, social network, startup, startup strategy, startups, technology, ui design, ux design, venture capital