Romo Turns Your iPhone into a Playful Robot With A Ton of Personality

Romo by Romotive helps bring your iPhone or iPod Touch to life, complete with a quirky personality and various interactive capabilities. Download the free app and plug your device into the Romo base station and you’ll have a new robot friend who is ready to play and learn. We got a chance to try the Romo robot at the 2013 Toy Fair and had a blast with this little robot that was so full of personality.There are three main modes for the Romo Robot: control, train, and program, each targeted at a different age group and requiring a different skill set. Kids aged 8 or 9 will be able to control the Romo robot by using a second iOS device to drive, view live images from the rear-facing camera and snap pictures. The Romo also uses the front facing camera to detect faces and move accordingly, like backing up if you get too close or turning to maintain eye contact. We gave it a try and had fun driving our Romo robot with the paired iPad and recording video of all the other Toy Fair attendees flocked around the booth.

A little more advanced, and targeted at kids aged 9 – 10, is Romo training. The robot can learn new behaviors and monthly software updates that will add new functionality as well as “robot language cards” called Romoglyphs that Romo can read through his front facing camera and learn new behaviors.

Finally, kids can program the Romo using the accompanied desktop software. This wasn’t available for us to try at the Fair, but we were told that the application would use drag-and-drop word blocks to define behaviors, such as following your dad around the house or playing with the family pet. Programs for the Romo can be shared through social networks or uploaded to the Romotive website and shared with other users.

The Romo was originally funded by Kickstarter and will be available this summer with both a 30-pin version for the iPhone 4, 4S and 4th Generation iPod Touch, as well as a Lightning port version for the new iPhone 5 and iPod Touch. The base will cost $149.99 and the Romo app will be free. There may eventually be an Android version, but Romotive, at least initially, is focusing on iOS only.

Dann Berg
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