Anki Cozmo Latest 2020 Review: An Adorable Coding Robot Buddy.
Anki’s Cozmo is a toy first and foremost, but one that you’ll fall in love with.Its an ambitious effort to bridge the gap between video games and real life toys
The robot can teach some very basic coding concepts, though it’s not exactly a STEM course. And the play lasts only as long as you’re willing to have the app in the foreground on your phone or tablet.
What makes Cozmo different than the array of other so-called “smart toys” out there? Thanks to a combination of artificial intelligence and computer sensors, Cozmo is able to react to what’s happening around him, recognize human faces, and play quirky mini-games.
His actions aren’t pre-programmed, meaning he’ll react differently to the same stimuli at different times
Cozmo has two games out of the box: Quick Tap and Keepaway.
- Quick Tap, the player must beat Cozmo to tapping the cube sitting in front of them when both blocks glow the same color at the same time.
- Keepaway requires the player to push a block close to Cozmo and withdraw it before he’s able to tap it.
Both games are amusing and simple, but I’m not convinced they’re engaging enough to make playing with Cozmo engaging enough to hold most kids’ attention.
Design: Cute and cuddly
Cozmo is a cute little thing, a robot with treads like a tank, arms like a backhoe, a voice like Wall-E and wide, blue eyes like a child.
Its white, silver and red plastic construction makes it feel like you shouldn’t play with the toy too hard, but it survived many a drop off of my desk.
App for Brains
Cozmo has its own CPU, used to evaluate what the toy should do next. But the majority of the user-based computing is done through the Cozmo app, which is available on iOS and Android and in the Amazon app store.
The first thing the app makes you do is connect your phone or tablet to Cozmo over Wi-Fi.
The robot itself never connects to the internet, but it needs Wi-Fi because that offers more bandwidth than what you can get with Bluetooth. Cozmo creates its own secure network, and you have to connect to this network every time you start the app, knocking you off of your own home network.
The app has a list of daily goals to help you earn Energy, which levels up Cozmo and gives you more Bits (to unlock new modes) and Sparks (a sort of currency to keep you playing)
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.
After your child has played with Cozmo for a little while, they can learn about programming, using the app’s Code Lab feature. This uses MIT’s Scratch programming language, a drag-and-drop system in which you line up action-based blocks to control the robot
Most of the other modes consist of a series of games. My favorite is Keepaway, in which players offer Cozmo a cube and pull it away before the robot can tap it. The most complex is Memory Match, in which you tap the blocks in a longer and longer pattern, seeing if you can remember it longer than the robot.
Packaging: Requires some adult help
If you were planning to let your child open Cozmo’s box, think again. I tried to give my 8-year-old daughter the reins, but it quickly became clear that Cozmo’s box was in danger of being destroyed if I let her continue.
Setup: A bit of a process
After I finally broke into Cozmo’s packing, my daughter unloaded the box. Out came the Cozmo, followed by the light-up blocks he uses for games, the manuals, and his charging dock.
She was so eager to wake him up that it looked painful for her to wait as I downloaded Cozmo’s app.
The app is what allows you to control everything Cozmo does, so it would be wise to download it prior to letting your child tear into the box.
Starting up Cozmo is a bit of a process. He has to sit on top of the dock to power up, but it only took about 90 seconds for the LED screen to power on and display the toy’s unique Wi-Fi information and password.
After setting up Cozmo via his corresponding smartphone app, he can recognize his owner’s face, reciting his or her name when spotting them
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 Anki 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 Anki 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.