We've been wondering how BeatBots' new My Keepon toy is going to compare to the original (especially considering that it's on the order of a thousandth the cost of a research Keepon), but this picture seems to show the forthcoming toy and I'll be honest: on the outside, I can't tell the difference.
As far as what the toy will be able to do, we've got more info on that as well:
My Keepon has two modes, selected with buttons on his "stage."
My Keepon dances like no other toy! A built-in microphone and state-of-the-art beat detection allows My Keepon to dance in time with the rhythm of clapping, patting, or your music. With an uncanny sense of timing and incredibly fluid movement, My Keepon will have you mesmerized as he grooves to any style. My Keepon will never dance the same way twice, so you will never tire of watching (or joining in).
My Keepon has an array of invisible sensors underneath his textured skin. Poke, tap, squeeze, or tickle, and My Keepon will react. You can even make it sneeze - just scratch its nose! My Keepon's mood also changes in response to your touch, with emotions ranging from curious, to excited, to sleepy, and everything in between. With My Keepon's rich nonverbal "language" and impossibly cute movements, you will love getting to know his personality and making a new best friend.
My Keepon will also be able to remember different types of interactions and change its behavior based on past history. If you don't play with it for a while, it'll let out "an occasional cry for attention." Expect to see different outfits and accessories show up at some point down the line, as well as a way for programmers to interface with the toy directly.
While we're still waiting to see exactly what it's like to interact with My Keepon, Toys R Us apparently saw it in action and immediately bought the entire first production run, so I guess that's a good sign. Unfortunately, we do now know that My Keepon doesn't include cameras due to cost constraints, and instead relies on touch sensors and sound localization to detect people.
Look for the toy in stores in October for under $50 (it's 35 quid in the U.K.). Since Toys R Us is planning a huge marketing campaign, there's absolutely no way you (or your kids) will be allowed to forget about it. And here's something else not to forget: buying a My Keepon helps fund research Keepons for autistic children. Yay!
[ My Keepon ] via [ Businessweek ] and [ Wow! Stuff ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.