A Spanish company called AISoy Robotics will begin selling an edutainment robot called AISoy 1 this August. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but don’t dismiss it just because it looks like a naked Furby. This thing runs Linux. And listen to Diego Garcia, one of its designers:
“It has basic needs, like nourishment and security, and other more advanced ones, like love, recognition, freedom and, above all, enjoying itself and getting along well. It’s not just a collection of limited actions or programmed responses. It’s dynamic, it has its own life and, at times, it’s unpredictable. If you take two AISoy 1’s and leave them in two different families, within two months they will be totally different because they will have had different experiences,” said Garcia.
Look, I’m all for making educational robotic toys. But you can’t go around claiming that your product “is almost a living being; it has the same activity as a living being, it has its own autonomy and conscience” (end quote) and expect people to take you seriously. The SONY AIBO which debuted more than a decade ago was in many ways much more complex than the AISoy 1, which can’t even move. Well, it can tilt its head, blink, and look around (4 servos) but it’s a stationary object. It will run for up to 4 hours on batteries, but you can plug it in as well.
To be fair, it does have a 1 MegaPixel camera with face recognition (remembers up to 4 individuals), it can read, and it can take on 14 different emotional states. You interact with it primarily by speaking to it, and it responds with speech synthesis (it has a vocabulary of around 2000 words). It has an ambient light, temperature, and touch sensors and will react to changes it senses. It can even connect to your twitter account and leave comments based on your voice memos. Additional functions such as games (riddles and trivia), and a date planner are included. You’ll only be able to purchase one through the company website (no word on price) which promises downloadable, age-appropriate educational content for your child. Later they will release an SDK so that people can develop their own apps.
So maybe it’s not just a next-generation Furby, but it’s hard to get excited about it because at the end of the day I don’t much like the design. It’s really weird looking, and not in a good way. What I really want is a PaPeRo. Oh, and my personal favorite reason to give this to your child – it will help them “develop a sense of self-sufficiency”. I bet. They’re going to need it if left alone with one of these things as the babysitter.
[source: AISoy Robotics @ YouTube]