It’s 2013, where’s all the robots? Wowwee’s RoboMe is a customizable robot for the kids, it can drive around the house and harness unlimited usability from an iPhone or iPod Touch. He stands just over a foot tall and rolls on 3 wheels. RoboMe has a loud personality and is full of sensors, games, and personalization. While the RoboMe audience is intended for ages 6-12, it offers a rich platform for getting kids in a programmable mindset. For instance, you can choose an action like (If) someone shakes RoboMe’s hand, then play a self-recorded “please to meet you”, and smile, and bow his head up and down.
RoboMe runs on 4C batteries, and 3AAA batteries for the remote control. Unfortunately, it’s not rechargeable. It can be controlled solely with the remote. The experience and capabilities are enhanced by docking an iPhone or iPod Touch into the face. With a second iOS device, RoboMe can be wirelessly controlled over the same network–it can even do telepresence where you can wirelessly see what RoboMe sees.
Without an iOS device RoboMe still has a loud personality. He can dance, patrol, wander, or follow commands. He has a face that lights up and expresses emotion. The iPhone/iPod will emulate the same face, or you can create a new face by selecting from a great number of facial features. To harness the power of the iOS device, RoboMe has a cable that plugs into iPhone’s headphone port. There’s a special RoboMe app available in the App Store.
RoboMe plays games, roams his surroundings, and goes into guard-mode, but his coolest feature is the customization. You can set specific triggers to make him do just about anything. You can program him to do any movement, tilt his head, play stored or recorded audio clips, make facial gestures, or all of the above. As mentioned, it’s a great way to get children in the programming mindset (if this then that, conditions). Some of his triggers include low battery, hand shake, hitting a wall, getting poked in the eye, and more. With iPhone/iPod he can also respond to voice commands with a customized reaction. You can also program 6 buttons on the remote control to make RoboMe do whatever you want.
RoboMe can offer hours of fun and interaction for a child aged 6-12. Kids and adults older than that may find RoboMe to be a bit annoying and limited in usability. He moves, but slowly and loudly. His remote only works with direct sight and still has a limit of roughly 20 feet. His telepresence feature can be fun, though it’s buggy. With two iOS devices (which most kids probably don’t have readily available), you can drive RoboMe while watching everything from his perspective. When the apps work, the image quality and latency is actually great. It uses your iPhone/iPod front camera and WiFi. The biggest annoyance with the control app (as of Nov 2013) is that RoboMe will only turn in 90 degree motions, so turning slightly to the left or right is extremely challenging.
A retail price of $109.99 for RoboMe is expensive; luckily you can find it just over $80 from Amazon, which makes it a much more reasonable holiday present. We know there’s no iOS devices included, but you should consider the price of batteries before buying. Even as a twenty-something year old, RoboMe was fun to play with and remotely bother a similar sized doggy. The manufacturer recommends RoboMe for children aged 6 to 15 years, I’d bump the 15 down to 12 and you’ll have some very happy owners. The Wowwee RoboMe Robot is currently available from Amazon.
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The Good: Entertaining, includes various sensors, very customizable, voice command recognition (with iPhone/iPod), remote video control (with 2 iOS devices), customizable face and customizable actions.
The Bad: Slow, loud, requires batteries 4C batteries + 3AAA batteries, apps are buggy and arms aren’t controllable.