Anki debuted its sentient toy Cozmo, a cute robot toy that makes use of the company’s deep artificial intelligence research, in October. Now the company is giving Cozmo a big update that makes him smarter.
The update shows that Anki can keep giving consumers new value by releasing software updates for its robotic toy, which marry years of A.I. research with a consumer product that has a real personality. Instead of cold and impersonal, Cozmo is a warm and fuzzy creature, almost like a virtual pet. Cozmo resembles the Eve character in the animated film Wall-E. And yet, Cozmo is a very unique character with a very different personality.
One of the new features is Memory Match, a new game where you have to follow the pattern on Cozmo’s blocks, dubbed Power Cubes. You have to watch the blinking lights, listen to the tones, and then repeat them. It’s kind of like a game of Simon. Over time, the repetition task gets a lot more complex. If you fail three times, you lose.
The update also includes new explorer mode enhancements. You can see how Cozmo makes his way through the environment using your smartphone or tablet. You’ll see what he sees, prompt him to greet people and pets, and use his lift to move Power Cubes. You can turn on his night vision and keep exploring. But Cozmo won’t give up full control. He’s got a personality that can’t be switched off.
Cozmo is also learning to talk more. You can feed him up to 30 characters at a time, and try not to laugh as he works through the pronunciations. You can get him talking to your friends, family, even the cat. Of course, a robot shouldn’t repeat certain words, and Cozmo knows them.
Cozmo can also detect dogs and cats and reacts appropriately to both. Cozmo comes from the same team that created Anki Drive and Anki Overdrive, the race-car games where the cars are smart enough to drive themselves around the track.
Anki recently raised $52.5 million from J.P. Morgan, and it has raised $185.2 million to date from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, and Two Sigma Ventures.