The great thing about covering technology is that we get to be like little kids in a toy store. I can’t wait to get my hands on new products and the only time I’m unhappy is when there isn’t enough new stuff to review. I want, no I need to have new tech.
Speaking of kids, among the many things I wanted as a kid were a personal airplane, helicopter, submarine and of course a robot. Having grown up watching an imagined world of television and movie robots, I couldn’t wait for the year of their arrival.
I took my first steps in robotics many years ago with an OWI kit. These are the little educational robotics kits that you can assemble in about an hour and then play with for only slightly longer. It was about a 4 inch plastic triangle with tiny rubber wheels and decidedly utilitarian.
Still, I was proud to be the owner of a tiny robot, even if it couldn’t do very much. It sat on the shelf next to a line of grade school baseball trophies until it died of neglect at the age of 12. Over the years, I spent more time dusting it off than I did actually using it.
If you weren’t lucky enough to have owned or seen one, the OWI kit had a tiny circuit board for motor control and audio I/O. That was about it. It had a flexible microphone that hung out over the edge and would respond to hand claps or anything that it happened to bump into, which was everything.
Later, toward the end of the nineties, under the selfless ruse of buying educational Christmas gifts for my children, I bought a Lego Mindstorms kit. This was somewhat of a step up from the OWI kit, as the I/O was more open ended and included rudimentary video sensing.
My kids were still pretty young then, and if you’ve ever used one of the Mindstorms kits you know they require programming to be anything beyond mildly amusing. I spent some hours programming the thing to make obstacle courses, and other goofy tasks for the supposed benefit of my kids education. It was time consuming, but not very satisfying.
Over the last couple of decades, the promise of real robotics in the home ebbs and flows. I get excited for things like ASIMO, until I see the cost and real world limitations, and then I go back to relying on my childhood fantasy to cook up a viable robot companion. My perfect robot is a combination personal servant, a la Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” and the Alexa on Steroids from the movie “Her”.
To put it in more realistic contemporary terms, I’d integrate Alexa functionality into a mobile (and dexterous) device that also does floors and windows. It should also be able to cook, although my lovely wife might disable that feature because she loves to cook. All of this functionality should bundled together in an affordable package, of course.
While we wait for my robot fantasy to come true, if you haven’t experienced any sort of personal robotics, you might want to check out this little guy for entertainment purposes. Although it’s not exactly Hal from 2001, the bundled app gives you a variety of ways to push the possibilities of what a robot toy can do.
Be sure to pick up a pack of 4 AAA batteries and you should have either an iOS device or Amazon Fire Tablet to use the programmable features.
WowWee MiP Toy Robot
- GestureSense allows your WowWee robot to respond to gesture-based interactions like swipes, claps, touch and more.
- BLE allows your WowWee product to seamlessly connect to and interact with your smart devices.
- Sound detection system allows your WowWee robot to react to noises in its environment.
- Free app provides control and/or enhanced gameplay on your smart device.
Some customer reviews
My 11 year old son, who is a lunatic when it comes to robotic toys, LOVES this thing. We have had MANY of the previous renditions of robots, Robosapien, Tribot, SpiderSapien, even took back a couple other un-noteworthy attempts. This is the real deal.
My boys are loving this gift (Kindergarten and 2nd grade). We haven’t even gotten into the programming features yet and they are having a blast just driving it around and having it dance to music on the iPads. It can balance a surprising amount on its tray.
I bought this as a Christmas gift for my 7 year old grandson. He opened it at my house Christmas morning and his Dad set up the app on his iPhone. He took off with it like he had never seen anything like it in his life.