Kids these days! Why, back when I was a kid we had to use, you know, our imaginations when playing with toys. Now, thanks to robotics, toys can spring to life and react intelligently to a child’s input. The latest example of that is IXI-Play, an owl-like robot that can dance, make sounds, and interact with children.
IXI-Play is a project created by a Dutch company called WittyWorX, which hopes to crowd-fund their idea and have the little bird robot manufactured in time for this year’s holiday season.
So what’s inside the IXI-Play, and what can it do? Based on the Android operating system, the IXI-Play will use a variety of apps to interact and play games. For example, a built-in camera and vision software will allow it to identify faces, objects, special cards, colors, and even read books. Speech recognition will enable it to react to specific commands, and a touch sensor will allow simple physical interaction.
WittyWorX has plans for a number of other apps, including: language learning, time keeping, photo/video camera, music player, counting and math, and dancing. Speaking of dancing, IXI-Play is, in many ways, very similar to Keepon, the groovy yellow robot that became a YouTube sensation. Like Keepon, IXI-Play has a soft body that can tilt and flex, and like the latest version of Furby (Hasbro’s furry, shrieking owl/hamster robot), its eyes are actually small LCD screens that can blink and express emotions [pictured below]. The company is currently looking at developing accessories that will work together with the robot, as well as tablet and smartphone connectivity.
All of this tech puts it a cut above other robot toys (the terrifying Tickle Me Elmo comes to mind), and with that sophistication comes a higher price tag. WittyWorX expects the IXI-Play to retail for US $299, and plans to finance the first production run through a crowd-funding campaign slated for this summer. Which is to say there’s still a lot of uncertainty in terms of seeing this bird bot take flight. You can follow its development through WittyWorX’s website, Facebook, and Twitter, or if you’re itching for a robot toy on a budget, you can always build your own RoboBrrd.
And here’s IXI dancing to Deee-Lite: