The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Meet IXI-Play, the Dancing Robot Bird Kids Will Love

A Dutch company is hatching a little robotic bird for children

2 min read
Meet IXI-Play, the Dancing Robot Bird Kids Will Love

Kids these days! Why, back when I was a kid we had to use, you know, our imaginations when playing with toys. Now, thanks to robotics, toys can spring to life and react intelligently to a child's input. The latest example of that is IXI-Play, an owl-like robot that can dance, make sounds, and interact with children.

IXI-Play is a project created by a Dutch company called WittyWorX, which hopes to crowd-fund their idea and have the little bird robot hatched manufactured in time for this year's holiday season.

So what's inside the IXI-Play, and what can it do? Based on the Android operating system, the IXI-Play will use a variety of apps to interact and play games. For example, a built-in camera and vision software will allow it to identify faces, objects, special cards, colors, and even read books. Speech recognition will enable it to react to specific commands, and a touch sensor will allow simple physical interaction.

Here's the first prototype in action:

WittyWorX has plans for a number of other apps, including: language learning, time keeping, photo/video camera, music player, counting and math, and dancing. Speaking of dancing, IXI-Play is, in many ways, very similar to Keepon, the groovy yellow robot that became a YouTube sensation. Like Keepon, IXI-Play has a soft body that can tilt and flex, and like the latest version of Furby (Hasbro's furry, shrieking owl/hamster robot), its eyes are actually small LCD screens that can blink and express emotions [pictured below]. The company is currently looking at developing accessories that will work together with the robot, as well as tablet and smartphone connectivity.

ixi-play robot

ixi-play robot

All of this tech puts it a cut above other robot toys (the terrifying Tickle Me Elmo comes to mind), and with that sophistication comes a higher price tag. WittyWorX expects the IXI-Play to retail for US $299, and plans to finance the first production run through a crowd-funding campaign slated for this summer. Which is to say there's still a lot of uncertainty in terms of seeing this bird bot take flight. You can follow its development through WittyWorX's website, Facebook, and Twitter, or if you're itching for a robot toy on a budget, you can always build your own RoboBrrd.

And here's IXI dancing to Deee-Lite:

[ WittyWorX ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
Horizontal
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less