Sony might not be a name you’d immediately associate with robotic toys, but it does, or rather did, have a few under its name, from the dog-like Aibo to the the “dancing” Rolly to, more recently, the KOOV robotics kit. It isn’t done yet, however, and a Toio product may be just over the horizon. Aimed at very young learners, Toio mixes papercraft, tiny rolling robot cubes, and a system that resembles a gaming console, complete with controllers and even cartridges.
It’s somewhat hard to describe Toio in one phrase beyond being an educational robotics system. It is practically made up of three parts. There are the robots, which are practically white cubes with wheels, sensors, and a downward facing camera underneath. And then there’s controller, which takes the form of a miniature console. The base has two slots for charging up to two robots, and two ring controllers with motion sensors for manually controlling the robots.
While those two are the core of the system, the third part is just as important. These are the different experiences and activities that come via cartridges and accessories. Unlike a more free-form and programmable robotics kit, Toio behaves more like a game, with predefined activities and the tools to make those happen, from specialized mats that the robots use to guide their movement, to paper printouts you cut and stick to robots to make them perform all sorts of stunts.
Also unlike most robotics kits, Toio doesn’t focus so much on other electronics or mechanical addons. nstead, it seems to encourage more artistic ways to spruce up the robots, from paper to textile. Of course, there’s always some room for some robot wars, sumo style.
As exciting as Toio might, be it is not yet a product you can buy. Not even in the immediate future. It is currently still part of Sony’s internal crowdfunding platform, First Flight, which also gave birth to now commrecial products like the FES Watch U. If Toio generates enough interest both internally and externally, it might follow that same path as well.
VIA: IEEE Spectrum