AI can be terrifying, as Hollywood taught us. SkyNet from the Terminator universe is example enough. But AI can also be adorable and friendly. The perfect example of this is the Anki Cozmo toy robot. This little fella has a mind of its own, and it learns very quickly. With Cozmo, you’ll have hours of fun and see a whole new side of artificial intelligence.
What is the Anki Cozmo?
As stated, Anki Cozmo is an AI-infused toy robot. In terms of Hollywood, it looks a lot like the popular character Wall-E from the eponymous movie. Even its facial features appear more Disneyesque than robotic. But this design wasn’t chosen by coincidence. Cozmo is meant to entertain people of both sexes and all ages. It’s gadgety enough to appeal to boys and adorable enough to attract girls. And to top it all off, it’s constantly evolving.
The Look of Cozmo
On the surface, Anki Cozmo looks like a digger with a face. Naturally, this is because of its single, digger-ish arm. It’s this arm that the little robot uses to interact with objects.
The “classic” Cozmo look is very simple and minimalistic. Two continuous tracks hold its four wheels, so it moves like a tiny tank. In terms of color, it’s white and red, with some hints of blue and black. Naturally, this isn’t taking its face into consideration.
Speaking of faces, Cozmo’s manages to be both average and unique. The audience got used to the cubic face with customizable emotions from the aforementioned Wall-E, but the shape and color of the face make it stand out more, giving Cozmo an almost unmatched appearance among robots. What’s missing is Cozmo’s brand name on the product itself. In other words, you won’t find the word “Cozmo” printed anywhere on this guy.
That’s right, Cozmo has an integrated camera. This camera helps the robot memorize faces. Of course, that includes ALL faces, both human and animal ones. So if you have a pet or live with other people, Cozmo will recognize each and every one of them, individually.
Cozmo’s major selling point as “the cute AI” is the wide range of emotions its face can produce. Not only are they adorable, but they also appear in minimal shapes such as squares and rectangles. However, the actions Cozmo performs can produce quite creative results. Just pay attention when it coughs or sneezes and you’ll understand.
Anki Cozmo doesn’t come alone when you buy it. Included in the package are also three cubes with different symbols. Cozmo can use these cubes to play app-based games or to just stack them for fun. It’s absolutely adorable to watch it mess with these things. The cuteness factor increases when it plays an actual game with the cubes and loses.
Aside from the cubes, you also get a proprietary charger that looks like a cradle. This gadget will act as the charger for the robot once it runs out of juice. But even with charging, the cuteness doesn’t stop. Once you click Cozmo into the charger, he “falls asleep” and snores one or two times. Even when not used, Cozmo knows how to make you smile.
Cozmo app is what you’ll be using when playing with this little guy. Most of the user-generated orders come from the app, and it’s a useful tool for Cozmo to learn new commands and adapt.
The robot itself doesn’t connect to the internet, but you’ll still need Wi-Fi to control it. As such, the app will ask you to connect it to your home internet as soon as it’s on. Moreover, Cozmo has its own private network. It’s a bit troublesome, but every time you power the app, it will ask you to disconnect from your network and connect to its own. Of course, all of that pays off once you begin playing with this cutie.
This bit of the Cozmo app allows the user to practice basic coding. Of course, this level of coding is nothing for adults who work in IT. However, it’s perfect for letting children get interested in this particular area.
The accurate subheading here ought to be “Controlling or Not Controlling Cozmo.” In short, you have two choices with this bot. You can either use the app to run Cozmo where you choose, or you can let it roam around the house unbothered. Whatever choice you make, you can see what Cozmo sees through its camera on your smart device. This is awesome if you start “exploring” the underside of your bed or closet. At long last, you get to see what the world looks like when you’re an inch or so high.
There are a few interesting games you can play with Cozmo. One of these is a game of memory. You essentially tap one of the blocks in a pattern to see how well you’ve remembered it. However, good luck trying to beat Cozmo at this game – it excels at it.
Another cool game is keep-away. You hold out the cube before Cozmo and then yank it away at the last moment. Then you get to enjoy Cozmo getting annoyed with you.
Finally, you can make Cozmo say tons of words in exchange for some energy. At this point, it should be noted that the robot won’t repeat offensive or crude language, as it is a children’s toy.
The Pros of Cozmo
Anki Cozmo is nearly everything you’d want in an AI robot for kids. It’s adorable in the way it acts but is also very clever. Every time there’s a software update, it learns new commands and new words. Naturally, it learns about its environment automatically even without these updates.
Beyond that, Cozmo is also a great tool to get children interested in coding. The app isn’t too complicated to use, and design-wise it looks decent. Furthermore, everything about Cozmo – the cubes, the cradle, the robot itself – is cute. There’s no denying that, considering it’s Cozmo’s major selling point.
The Cons of Cozmo
Speaking of selling, the biggest setback of owning Anki Cozmo is the price. A little short of $200, Cozmo is quite an investment, even for a gift. There are even new models with different designs, and they cost even more.
Moreover, you can’t really do much without the app, which means you need a smart device such as a phone or a tablet. It would be great if you could run Cozmo from your PC or any other device, but that’s just not possible at the moment. In addition, it won’t really move around without stable Wi-Fi. If you have issues with your current Wi-Fi package, then Cozmo will be more of a nightmare than a fun toy.
Finally, there’s the battery time. A lot of people who had Cozmo for a while complained about how quickly it ran out of juice. There’s a possibility that your model might need frequent charging, and that can be annoying as all hell.
The Final Verdict? Anki Cozmo Rules!
AI is the future of entertainment, and Anki Cozmo is just one step in the right direction. But it’s a step with lots of amazing features. The bot will make you giggle, give you hours of entertainment, and your kid might even learn a bit of coding in the meantime.
You can find any additional info about Cozmo on the bot’s section at Anki’s official website, www.anki.com.
Writer and Researcher
Ex-sales manager at a large Canadian electronics store who now works part-time for Meccano Home. He’s an avid fan of smart tech and gadgets.