My Keepon borrows dancing robot’s moves with a toy price tag

Feb 2, 2011
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My Keepon borrows dancing robot’s moves with a toy price tag

Tiny dancing Keepon, the endearing yellow spongeball robot, is spawning a toy version. My Keepon will lack the original's research functionality - it was designed to be appealing to special needs patients - but will still be able to dance in time to music and react to touch.

The Keepon team say they've worked hard to keep the "essence of the Keepon character while replicating the robot's most engaging interactive traits"; you can see the original in action in the video below. Meanwhile, a percentage of the profit from each My Keepon sold is going to be re-directed to help fund BeatBots' research-grade robots for therapists and researchers.

My Keepon will go on sale later this year - a US partner is due to be announced on February 14 - priced at $40 or £29.99 in the UK.

[via CrunchGear]

Press Release:

"My Keepon"

Guide SRP £29.99 or USD$40.00

Wow! Stuff, hot on the heels of an award-winning 2010 and the wildly successful "Dave the Funky Shoulder Monkey," prepares to do it again in 2011 with their new blockbuster toy, "My Keepon"!

With over 4 million views on YouTube, music videos featuring a robot named Keepon have stoked the public's desire for this cute and lovable yellow character. In addition to Keepon’s wild internet popularity, it has been named one of the "Top 10 robots of all time." Until recently, Keepon has been limited to labs and institutions, where it is breaking new ground in the fields of social robot design and autism research.

But now, a toy version of the character is on show for the first time at the European Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Toy manufacturer Wow! Stuff is expecting My Keepon to be the year's hottest toy — not just in the UK, where Wow! Stuff is based, but throughout the world, having agreed to a USA launch with a major retailer (due to be announced on February 14th). Richard North, Wow! Stuff’s Managing Director, announced, "We are launching a blockbuster toy that will sell in similar quantities to last year’s mega-hit Dave, but this time we’re going global." North added that, during London Toy Fair previews, "My Keepon had all of the retailers in absolute disbelief. You could count the number of wows exclaimed in each meeting as we presented this exceptional toy." Wow! Stuff's claims for blockbuster sellers have proven spot- on to date, with runaway success Dave the Funky Shoulder Monkey selling more than 270,000 units in the 3 months before Christmas 2010 in the UK alone.

For My Keepon, Wow! Stuff has collaborated with Keepon's designers at BeatBots LLC. BeatBots co-founders Dr. Hideki Kozima and Dr. Marek Michalowski have been developing and using Keepon in Japan and in the USA as a robotic research platform for studying social development and as a telepresence tool in autism therapy. A meeting of minds occurred when Dr. Graeme Taylor, Director at Wow! Stuff and Head of Inventor Relations, wanted to help make a version of Keepon available to the robot's massive and growing fan base, as evident on YouTube, Facebook, and countless blogs. For their part, Kozima and Michalowski also wanted to meet this public demand for the character of Keepon while making the high-end Keepon Pro robot more widely available to researchers and institutional users.

Wow!'s design experts and robotics engineers, based in their recently-opened Los Angeles office, worked closely with BeatBots to design a toy that captured the essence of the Keepon character while replicating the robot's most engaging interactive traits. These features include reactivity to touch and an amazing ability to listen to music, detect the beat, and dance in perfect rhythm!

But most importantly, Wow! Stuff and BeatBots are working to ensure that the success of My Keepon will directly support the social welfare goals at the heart of the Keepon story. "A percentage of the profit from each My Keepon will go towards subsidizing and donating BeatBots' research-grade robots to therapists and researchers," said Taylor. "We are so proud to make Keepon available to a broader audience, and we will choose retail partners who also feel proud to sell him."

Michalowski commented, "Our dream is to make Keepon Pro units widely available to researchers and practitioners. Our work with Keepon suggests that the character's simplicity, combined with a caregiver's ability to conduct mediated interactions through the robot, can facilitate social engagement in a novel and exciting way. We hope that the toy version of our robot can channel public excitement towards general autism awareness while supporting our distribution of tools and resources to people and organizations around the world working to understand and treat it."

About BeatBots: BeatBots LLC designs socially interactive robotic characters for entertainment, research, and art. For more details about Keepon, visit http://beatbots.net or contact Dr. Marek Michalowski at info@beatbots.net or +1.415.894.0065.


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