Tiny Ozobot Is First Augmented Reality Toy for the Smartphone Generation
Kids Program This One-Inch Wonder Game Piece to Move Itself, Bridging the Gap Between Virtual and Digital Play
Observe a kid afterschool and he'll probably be "playing" with an assortment of digital devices from tablets and smart phones to wireless controllers and Apps. Technology is their norm and augments everything they do from homework to family game night. What's next? A board game where the pieces move themselves a la The Jetsons? Actually, yes! Introducing Ozobot, the one-inch robot that moves kids from augmented reality back to physical play.
Launched this year at both the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the American International Toy Fair, tiny Ozobot charmed the geeks and the toy masters. Dr. Toy placed Ozobot on her 10 Best Technology list for 2014. USA Today and Popular Science immediately named it to their Best Tech Toys of Toy Fair. The bot's futuristic design landed the hold-in-your-palm toy inside NY's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) Design Store.
Designed by electronics company Evollve, the robot's capacity for fun and learning are endless. Playing with this tiny bot introduces kids to simple (or complex) coding, expands their imaginations and encourages life skills such as deductive reasoning.
Like Dorothy following the yellow brick road to Oz, kids use color -- black, red, green and blue -- to program Ozobot to follow a path forward, backwards, fast, slow, right, left and more. So clever is the technology that the bot can move on physical surfaces like paper and digital planes like an smart phone or tablets. As long as there is a colored line or digital flash codes of red, blue, green or black, Ozobot will move at the command of the color or pattern of colors.
Electronic industry experts gushed over its ability to “see” colored lines and know the difference between them. Wrote one blogger from the CES show, "The robot is able to follow the lines with pinpoint accuracy, and can even be commanded to speed up, reverse, change direction, or do a variety of other commands through the color of the line itself." Another noticed, "when Ozobot sees certain combinations of colors (red-black-red, green-blue-green, and so on), it recognizes them as a code that translates into a specific action such as slow down, speed up, turn left or stop. Now we're getting into programming."
And simple coding or programming is exactly what today's STEM curriculum encourages. As everyday tools in the workplace or at home generate another layer of technology kids will need to be at ease with robotics. "This small robot offers kids and techies," Dr. Toy writes in her review, "an expressive way to learn and play with robotics in a variety of social and interactive settings."
Kids and grownups will find Ozobot's free downloadable games like OzoPath and OzoLuck creative, strategic and competitive. Kids in middle school are captivated by Ozobot and high schoolers are attracted to its ability to navigate through multi-dimensional environments.
"The Ozobot swivels, pivots and oscillates along whatever playing surface it’s on, whether that’s a game board, paper, or a smartphone or tablet screen," describes the Popular Mechanic reviewer. "It can detect automatically if the surface it’s perched atop is physical or digital and it can transition seamlessly between the one and the other without missing a beat."
Watch the introductory video of little Ozobot's amazing possibilities at www.Ozobot.com.
Ozobot • Ages 13+ • $49.99
Dr. Toy's 10 Best Technology
Dr. Toy's 100 Best Children's Products of 2014
The National Parenting Center Holiday Seal of Approval
This tiny customizable robot comes to life when you create mazes, tracks and playgrounds on paper, game boards and digital screens. With astonishing color sensing technology, this little bot uses a micro USB based rechargeable LiPoly battery -- 90 minutes of continuous operation on a single charge.
OzoLuck App • Free
available at both Apple Store and Google Play, a social game of chance in which Ozobot travels on a maze and randomly chooses lucky outcomes
OzoPath App • Free
a strategic game to try to out maneuver your opponent to get Ozobot to home base
OzoDraw App • Free
a drawing and exploration app to test Ozobot's intelligence
The MSRP is $49.99 each, or $99.99 for the competitive series (dual packs). Online shoppers can find these tiny robots in time for the holidays at Ozobot.com, brookstone.com, momastore.org and amazon.com (visit Ozobot.com for complete retail listing.)