Meet Romo. You can think of Romo as a sort of Tamagotchi pet for 2013. That said, this ‘pet’ is much more advanced than the original Tamagotchi. That is because this robot pet uses a smartphone for its brains and the base is just what lets it travel around.
When you first get started with Romo, you will be encouraged to play mini games, AKA training missions with it. These games help the robot adjust and learn about its surroundings. Furthermore, just like a real pet, if you ignore it, it will get sad. Overall, the initial Romo intro and Romo’s general cartoony persona is adorable. But when it comes to the actual missions they can get annoying really fast.
It’s beyond the mini-games and Romo’s adorable personality where Romo gets really exciting, and that is the telepresence feature. To that effect, you can control Romo from any web browser in the world. All you have to do is dial into a Romo which is carrying an iPhone, and the person dialing can take control over Romo, guiding it around. Furthermore, the person controlling Romo can also have a face to face chat with those on the other side of Romo.
We were a bit skeptical at first, but the telepresence feature works quite well over Wi-Fi, as does the video chat feature. I chased my poor dog around the apartment, as I tried to explain to her bewilderment that it was just me – it was just mommy! Needless to say, it was entertaining getting a birds eye view of my confused little white puff scurrying around. And for the record, no Westie was harmed while testing Romo. As a matter of fact, the Westie and Romo are actually good friends these days.
In any case, ultimately, we see the telepresence feature of Romo being the major selling point. It serves as a great way for loved ones to keep connected with each other, beyond just a sterile computer video chat. For example, you can use Romo to give your friend a tour of the new apartment. Or dad can use Romo to move from room to room to say goodnight while he is away on business. There are tons of situations where Romo’s telepresence feature can be both fun an practical.
Overall, Romo isn’t just a toy. Sure, it’s fun to play with, and kids will surely love it, but its telepresence feature makes it a practical device too. Furthermore, the Romotive team is committed to expanding its functionality and usefulness with more apps and updates, and they have made Romo’s SDK available for anyone to develop their own apps for Romo, so there is potentially a lot more nerdy goodness to come from Romo.
Brookstone is the first to take a leap of faith and bring Romo to the masses, and we think that they have made a bold but smart move by supporting this little guy. You can adopt Romo the Robotic Pet for $149 at Brookstone.
The Good: Intelligent enough to learn and do things like track faces and paths- is Romo the mother of the Cylons? Telepresence feature works quite well and you can control Romo now via web browser as well as with an app. An SDK is available for users to use to create their own apps. It navigates quite well over most surfaces and it’s able to snap photos while being remotely controlled. Encourages kids (and adults) to learn programming.
The Bad: Separate models for lightning connector and 30 pin devices. iOS only. Won’t work with a case on the iPhone. Tracks get dirty quickly.