Whether it’s a fear of being enslaved by machines, an appreciation for animating more manual functions, or simply being entertained – our level of appreciation for robots often varies.
Regardless of your thoughts about Baxter or Johnny Five, there’s one robot out there hoping to offer universal appeal. Its name is Aisoy.
Now on it fifth version, the first was created about 3 years ago by the Spanish company Aisoy Robotics. Version five is described as an affordable, programmable, social robot targeted at children 6 years-old and up.
Putting aside the somewhat unsettling open mouth grin and unwavering stare, the creators are careful to specify that just because Aisoy has been designed for kids, it’s not a toy.
It uses simplified, click-and-drop programming languages like Scratch, Blockly and Python, which are similar in functionality to Lego MIndstorm robotics.
But what makes Aisoy unique is that it also uses embedded pressure and temperature sensors, cameras, lights and mechatronics that allow the robot to emulate emotions in response to a person’s touch, non-verbal expressions or even spoken words.
In particular, Aisoy’s eyes are 3 mega-pixel cameras that allow it to recognize faces or QR codes that stimulate an “emotional” response, like a smile or a head tilt. Other options could be more pragmatic, like launching a Math game.
Aisoy’s creators feel this functionality will help children develop healthier emotional connections, and could be especially useful in therapeutic applications for those with autism or other developmental challenges like attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.
The “emotions” being displayed by the robot are also seen as a way to generate increased enthusiasm for robotics and programming in general because of the bond that is seemingly being generated.
Aisoy stands about 8-1/2” tall and weighs just over two pounds. It’s available for purchase on the company’s site starting at about $370.