Cozmo: The First Robot With A True Personality?

Written by Marc

After reviewing the famous Sphero Star Wars BB-8 and considering that we are huge fans of the lovely Wall-E, we decided to have a closer look at Cozmo. This robot quickly became a strong bestseller as well as huge buzz phenomenon. His creators assure that Cozmo’s emotions are not random but real. Cozmo is indeed described as curious, playful, mischievous, super smart (and even “gifted”). Anki’s designers intends to take robotics and AI from labs to our home. They have the ambition to deliver a real character, using machine learning and AI  for this purpose.

This cousin of Wall-E is pitched as being able to deliver tremendous brain power, but also as a robot gifted with personality. He is expected to be curious, to explore and to experience things. His alleged machine learning abilities should enable this robot not only to learn but also to plot and plan. His creators assert that this sweet robot does not only see us but, more importantly, gets to know us, growing new feelings the more we spend time with him. That is it for the pitch. Let’s see how Cozmo really behaves in real conditions.

How Does Cozmo Interact With Us In The Real Life?

Embarking an actual artificial intelligence, Cozmo and its big blue eyes are meant to become a true playmate or a companion machine. His creators hope to meet a large audience still predominantly reluctant to the presence of intelligent robots.

Developed by the American startup Anki, this small robot aims to be more than a toy. Its inventors have conceived Cozmo as a full-fledged character, endowed with a personality, with its moods and desires. All his expressiveness is reflected into his eyes, which have been the subject of considerable engineering so that an emotional connection is created with his owner. The video below allows to enjoy its wide range of emotions, from happiness to amazement, to curiosity and even anger.

Cozmo spends most of his time playing with its cubes (included in the bundle). Thanks to its integrated camera, he analyzes his environment and he even knows how to get back on his “feet” without receiving any help. Cozmo’s embedded AI  is even able to recognize people by staring at them.

Source: Anki

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Is Cozmo Too Good To Be True?

Watching the video, you probably thought like me: “It is great, but it may be too good to be true”. Could a toy robot that costs only $180 be as good as that? Well, for us, the answer is a big yes. Although presentation videos are kind of idealized and directed in perfect conditions, in reality the robot struggles a little more to interact with its environment. However, we must admit that the “WOW” effect is real. Everyone was conquered and ready to buy the little droid on the spot. The robot perfectly fulfills the role for which it was designed, it is entertaining and fun. At first sight, Cozmo is relatively basic: a caterpillar base, an articulated arm and a moving head. But this simplicity makes it incredibly effective. Its compact size indeed allows Cozmo to be really lively, which is ideal for the games based on speed and reflexes offered by the mobile app. The real achievement of this robot is the way it moves and the animations that appear on the screen: Cozmo seems to express actual emotions. Cozmo reminds us of Wall-E but with a more mischievous attitude (the robot makes fun of you when he wins a game against you, and it sulks when he loses). Again, the real accomplishment of Anki is to have managed to give Cozmo a semblance of life. As soon as Cozmo gets turned on, we feel a real empathy for this cute little robot. For example, play with it and he will show that he is happy. Ignore him and he’ll get grumpy.

The packaging is particularly well made and contains three cubes designed to play with Cozmo, the charger, and the user manual.

Source: Anki

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An Evolving Robot That Gets Updated Over Time

This special robot is very small and fits in the palm of your hand, making it the perfect toy to bring everywhere. On the other hand, although equipped with caterpillars, it is far from being an all-terrain robot. In other words, prior to playing  with Cozmo, choose a perfectly flat surface like a table or a desk. Besides the animations reflected on the screen and the moves of Cozmo, the thing that makes it really fun to play with is the noises it emits – a subtle mix of sounds from Star Wars’ droids and Wall-E. For example, when Cozmo drives in reverse, it mimics the sound alert of a receding truck. Moreover, the mobile app diffuses music that adapts to situations and corresponds to the attitude of the robot, which contributes to create a global and very satisfying atmosphere.

The app has a really intuitive interface designed for children and it is easy to connect the smartphone or tablet to the robot in order to interact with it.

Cozmo evolves depending on the interactions that you have with him. In fact, the more you play, the more points you earn that allow you to unlock new skills for Cozmo. This clearly maintains the interest in the droid. Anki offers updates that add new games and new attitudes over time. We truly admire these evolutionary skills. Especially since the app offers daily challenges to encourage the player to interact with Cozmo.

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Source: Anki

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Cozmo Is Mostly A Game Playing Machine

The more you play, the more you train your smart robot, which will quickly become a serious challenger: do not trust his size, Cozmo is fast! And he is here to win. There are several types of games, most of them focused on reflexes. For example, you can play a really exciting game with Cozmo: the cubes light up in different colors thanks to their integrated LEDs; when two cubes display the same color, Cozmo and you will need to to press your cube in order to win a point. It is really cute and funny to see the little robot get excited each time that he presses the cube first and wins a point 🙂

Besides games, which should be able to entertain your kids for a long time, we particularly enjoyed Cozmo’s pet role that is somewhat more engaging than a Tamagotchi! The little robot moves autonomously without falling, detects the edges of the table and it seems to observe its environment. Cozmo really gives the feeling of having its own consciousness: just like a dog who would bring you his ball to play with him, the little droid looks at you (and actually recognizes faces) and sometimes sends messages via its application to ask you to play with him.

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  • WOW! Effect
  • Innovative Design
  • Frequency of Use
  • Value for Money
4.3

Should you buy it?

For $180, Cozmo is literally a steal. This cute robot is not the "self-aware" machine described by its inventors, but, thanks to its impressive AI, its machine learning abilities and its frequent updates, this droid surpasses all its competitors by far. Its OS is definitely the most sophisticated one that we ever saw in terms of consumer electronics. Cozmo was pitched as a "robot with personality" and we must admit that its creators did not oversell it. You will not be dealing with a kind of worrying AI like HAL 9000 in A Space Odyssey, but with a fun and endearing machine gifted with what really looks like a personality that seems to evolve the more you hang out. We are still far away from playing with a self-conscious robot, but Cozmo really impressed us with its app that gets constantly updated with new ways to play. Hence, it is not surprising that Cozmo almost scored a perfect 5/5 on Amazon with +1,100 reviews. Its massive popularity is a well-deserved tribute to this smart toy.

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