Vector, Anki’s playful robot companion, will soon speak Alexa’s language. The San Francisco startup today announced that that integration with Amazon’s assistant will arrive in an update slated for Monday, December 17, alongside other new “interactive experiences.”
Alexa on Vector is triggered with a voice command — “Alexa” — that queues up the assistant for requests. It affords access to the full range of Alexa’s capabilities, including compatibility with 20,000 smart home devices and the more than 50,000 third-party apps in the Alexa Skills Store — in addition, of course, to things like reminders, search queries, shopping list additions, and song requests.
As for the aforementioned experiences, here’s what’s coming down the pipeline:
- Holiday Cheers: Wish Vector a happy holiday or new years, and watch him deliver a festive cheer!
- More Voice Commands: Now you can ask Vector to turn his volume up or down, and direct him where to go — ex: turn left, turn right, turn around, etc.
- Hand Detection: Vector can now recognize hands! Next time you’re near Vector, don’t be surprised if he rolls up to your hand and gives you a little nudge. He just wants to be petted.
Vector’s big upgrade comes shortly after an over-the-air update that introduced “hundreds” of new animations, responses to voice feedback, sound effects, bug fixes, and performance enhancements.
In related news, Anki this week launched a Python-based software development kit (SDK) for Vector that exposes the robot’s bevy of sensors, screen, animations, and motors to budding roboticists. It’s in alpha following a pre-alpha that was made exclusively available to customers who preordered Vector on Kickstarter, and works with thousands of freely available third-party libraries.
“Because [Vector] is cloud-connected, [he’s] always learning and improving, with new features and ways for you to engage with him,” Meghan McDowell, director of program management at Anki, wrote in an earlier blog post. “We are truly committed to making Vector the most engaging and entertaining robot you’ve ever interacted with.”