Cozmo turns toys-to-life on its head with Pixar interactions

Cozmo is a new gameified tech-toy from Anki, the makers of Overdrive racing. It’s an A.I. robot that employs video-game animation techniques to a physical product.

To meet Cozmo for the first time is a little disarming. He looks up, makes eye-contact and says your name. This is not what we are used to from other tech games and toys with their staccato stop-start interactions.

Cozmo is animated by talent from Pixar and Dreamworks animations with the Maya tool usually used on video-games. The results are evident as the little robot moves around much like we are used to on-screen characters doing in our games.

However, because Cozmo is physical he has an extra dimension — well three actually. Playing games with him, like the reaction test Quick Tap and this physically really comes into play. He gestures to try and fake you out as well as making distracting eye contact. Then, if he loses, he tosses his playthings around in anger.

On the screen this would be amusing but in the real world it makes a big difference to both game-play as well as the emotional interactions with the little guy.

The game side of the experience focuses on three power-cubes that have motion sensors like the Wii-Remote so he knows when you move them. He also has a camera that can see and located each of the cubes.

If you agree to play a game like Quick Tap, Cozmo goes and gets the cubes and you have one each. The challenge it to tap your cube before Cozmo when the lights match. It’s a simple challenge but one that really opens up different strategies and interactions as you play.

Seeing the toys-to-life space evolve this year beyond the static figures to articulated toys, Cozmo could well be the next step toward really combining toys and games — only here it’s really not just for kids.

Cozmo is out in the US this month for $179.99 and will be coming to the UK next year.

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