COMMENTARY: It’s All About the Robots

Earlier this week, Senior Editor Marissa DiBartolo wrote about how the floor of the American International Toy Fair 2014 was lacking in the realm of appcessories, and that many companies were heading back to the classic play patterns, especially in the activities category. I also noticed an emerging trend that does not heavily rely on app technology, but does not veer from the idea of incorporating tech into playtime: robots.

As I walked the floor, I saw a bunch of different robotic products that really displayed where the category is heading—and a lot of that was not app-reliant. Of course, most of these robots can be controlled with or used with smart devices, but gone are the days where “and it has an app!” was a suitable enough novelty to convince consumers to purchase the toy.

Ali.Feb27First, let me introduce you to MiP. MiP, which is short for Mobile Inverted Pendulum, is WowWee’s latest innovation in association with the University of California at San Diego’s Coordinated Robots Lab. MiP has unique dual wheel balancing (thanks to that inverted pendulum science!) and is a fully interactive robot. MiP is able to navigate his surroundings while being controlled by hand gestures or through a Bluetooth link to a smart device. MiP also has a personality that is communicated through motion, sounds, and his LED eyes. [Read more...]

Romo Enters Exclusive Retail Partnership with Brookstone

ROMOIn an exclusive retail partnership, Romotive Inc.’s Romo, the iPhone or iPod touch-powered personal robot, will now be sold at Brookstone stores through the end of the year.

Intended for kids ages 8 and up, Romo’s charming personality and advanced robotic technology will have your kid engaged in endless hours of play, as he or she is faced with challenging missions while journeying through the galaxy. With features, including a hilarious personality, the opportunity to unlock new abilities and features by completing programming missions, and tracking software that allows Romo to follow certain objects, faces, and paths you create for him, there are endless ways to play and learn with Romo.

Romo can even be controlled using Wi-Fi from any iOS device that allows users to direct his dynamic facial expressions and send him on adventures throughout the house. The Telepresence feature allows kids to control Romo from anywhere in the world while streaming two-way video and audio.

Romo is available for iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPod touch (4th and 5th generation), iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S for $149.00 at Brookstone, Brookstone.com, and Romotive.com.