Don't be scared, he won't bite. Or breathe fire.
Unless, of course, your smartphone has teeth. And a flamethrower.
Kombusto, despite his extremely dragony appearance, doesn't have to exist in beclawed corporeal body. Since he lives in the cloud, even without a fancy $1,000 robot, kids will still be able to have a dragony friend on their (Android) smartphone. The fancy name for this is "blended reality," and it's a powerful tool for education, since it removes the traditional hardware constraints that come with robots.
The other advantage of cloud robotics is that every time Kombusto gets smarter or learns something new, all of the other incarnations of Kombusto in the hands of other kids can directly benefit from the upgrades. And while $1,000 may seem expensive to you (and it is expensive), for an institutional research robot this is dirt cheap. So, uh, can I buy one yet? And does he like to cuddle?
[ MIT Media Lab ]
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.