I received a complementary ROMO in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
If watching The Jetsons taught me anything, it was that in 2062 I'm going to own my own flying car, my house's push-button conveniences will do most of my work for me, and having a robot around is going to be really cool.
Bring it on, future!
However, as I impatiently await the next 49 years to pass to get to that point, at least there are companies that are finding ways to bring innovative technology to the present in unique, advanced, entertaining ways.
Most currently, we have found that through our small, robotic friend ROMO by Romotive.
A personal robot that uses your iPhone or iPod touch as his brain, ROMO is the first of its kind creature built to teach kids the basics of computer programming and robotics through a series of adventurous challenges.
By using a smartphone for controls, ROMO helps kids, ages 8 and up, get excited about science, technology, engineering and math as soon as they can read. Users simply continue to play with ROMO, completing more and more "training," and advanced features continue to unlock.
While ROMO first starts off just learning your name and how to move forwards and backwards, you'll soon be teaching him things like object follow (throw a ball and ROMO will chase after it), face detection (ROMO will track and follow your facial movements), and path tracking (create courses and race tracks for ROMO to follow). As ROMO becomes more able to respond to people and events around him, he'll soon be ready for the Robot Space Race!
Considering that I can't think of anyone that wouldn't want to interact with a friendly little robot, I was looking forward to adopting our own ROMO and getting to know him.
Right out of the box and I was happy to see that there was barely any setup required before being able to start getting to know ROMO (and for him to start getting to know us).
In fact, the steps to work ROMO include:
- Download the free ROMO app from iTunes.
- Dock your smartphone into the rover base.
- Play with ROMO!
I appreciate the way that the training and programming missions for ROMO start off basic and progressively get more complex (while teaching the basics of computer programming).
Once you've successfully taught ROMO how to drive...
...and he can move forwards, move backwards, turn, change speed and more...
...you're able to start customizing his personality and teaching him manners on Planet 2.
Although I initially didn't anticipate being so riveted by ROMO, once I began to realize that I was the one programming his personality, I found myself wanting to continue playing more and more. I chose ROMO's reaction when I give him a poke, exactly how he moves and laughs when I tickle him, that he acts happy and loving when he sees me (and sad when he can't see my face) and more. He's the smartest robotic pal I've ever had!
Not only that, unlike most technology games where there is only one-way communication and controls, ROMO actually interacts. When he wanted me to guess his favorite color, he let me know when I waved incorrect colors in front of him and was happy when I discovered the correct one. How could I not want to continue to get to know him better?
|He's literally shaking mad in the middle picture because I poked him in the eye! Ha!|
As I've gotten to know ROMO more and more, I've found that he really is a smart, evolving toy — his possibilities are only limited by my imagination, as his abilities and features continue to expand over time.
ROMO can track and follow my face using my smartphone's camera, he can chase after certain objects when thrown, he can detect and follow tracks and paths that I've created for him, he can get scared when I lift him up or look at me curiously if I get too close to him... he even gets sad if he gets left alone for too long!
To really get a feel for the endless options that ROMO provides, just check out this short video by the inventors!
Pretty amazing, right?
I love that Romotive included Wi-Fi control with ROMO, as it makes it possible to control this gadget by using any iOS device and a Wi-Fi network. Want to send ROMO into the next room to look around and check to see if your kids have really cleaned it up? Grab your iPad or your computer and he'll be on the move!
Even better, ROMO includes something called telepresence, defined as the use of virtual reality technology to operate machinery by remote control. When you're on a business trip, you can still grab your iPad and control ROMO from anywhere in the world while streaming two-way video and audio (i.e. say goodnight to your children as ROMO moves from one to the next). It's a movable, controllable way to Skype!
Currently compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPod touch (5th generation), iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPod touch (4th generation), ROMO retails for $149 and is available at Brookstone, Brookstone.com and Romotive.com.
While this isn't a small purchase, it is definitely a one-of-a-kind item that your entire family can play, interact, learn from and love for quite some time to come! To find out more, visit Romotive.com and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo.