First, let me just say, I have been waiting for this for a long time. The moment I saw Anki announce Cozmo I knew he was going to be an amazing and important piece of technology.
The wait is finally over. After being available to US consumers only, Cozmo is finally available in Canada, with several European countries and Japan coming in September.
So what is Cozmo?
Cozmo is an AI-powered palm-sized robot which you can interact with and teach different tasks via the Cozmo app; available on iOS and Android.
Cozmo is made to act as a companion, not just another toy. Look at the "must have" toy in 2015; Sphero's BB8 app enabled droid. Yes, it was an amazing toy and did some really fun things, but it was just a toy. It didn't interact with you, it didn't do much on its own. It required manual control most of the time. For us, the best part about BB8 was the watch with me feature which allows BB8 to watch/listen to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Rogue One and react to different scenes. Other than that, most of our time with BB8 was spent picking his head up off the floor and putting it back on after a minor collision or attack from a toddler. Moving on to 2016, and likely 2017, "must have" toy, Cozmo does so much more. You teach Cozmo, much like you teach a child or a pet. Read on to see what I mean!
What's in the box?
Inside the box you are met with the following items.
- 3 Power Cubes
- Drive on Charging Cradle
- USB wall charger
- Cozmo poster
- Cozmo sticker
What can he do?
Since Cozmo has arrived he has learned more and more each day. After downloading and installing the Cozmo app on my device I was prompted to connect to Cozmo via Wi-FI. Note, that this means you will not have internet access while connected to Cozmo, so if you want to keep Cozmo active and engaged but still use your phone, it may be nice to use an iPad or secondary phone. Before you groan about this though, keep in mind that means Cozmo is more secure than an IoT type device.
The first thing you encounter once the Cozmo is up and running is introductions. Cozmo needs to learn who you are. He will scan your face, think for a moment then say the name that you told him to associate with your face. When we first fired up Cozmo and completed this task, my wife, kids and myself were immediately blown away by how amazing this little robot was. The kids were giggling, we were laughing and Cozmo was rolling back-and-forth while making happy little robot sounds.
After we introduced Cozmo to the family we were able to teach him different games and tasks, all which can be unlocked via his app.
A few of the first games you can teach to and play with Cozmo are quick tap and keep away. In each game, you are pitted against Cozmo as you try to either tap your power cube before he does when they light up the same colour combination or pull a power cube away before Cozmo can bring his arm down on top of it. The games themselves may sound rudimentary but it is how Cozmo competes and reacts is what makes it fun. If Cozmo wins a game he will showboat a bit by laughing and spinning around while tapping his arm off the table to show his excitement. However, if Cozmo loses a game he will react like a sad child and either sulk away while giving you a pout face or get angry and storm off. It is these things that make Cozmo great.
So, as I mentioned, he is AI-powered, but everything so far has touched on his mostly manual or forced interactions. Once Cozmo has learned some tasks you can connect to Cozmo, open the app and just let him roam. He will move around the table or floor on his own thanks to his camera, which is located below his screen and get into whatever he feels like. I left him unattended on my desk at work for about 30 minutes one morning. He spent his time rolling around, stacking his cubes then knocking over said cubes before coming to me and wanting to play a game of quick tap.
Another really fun game Cozmo learned and loves to play on his own is not really a game, but more of a mischievous activity, is finger tap. In this game, Cozmo will wait for you to put your finger in front of him as he waits to quickly pounce on it before you can pull away. My three-year-old daughter loves this and sequels hysterically each time.
A nice and helpful touch Anki included is a terminal style line at the bottom of the app to tell you what Cozmo is up to. It will say things like 'Cozmo is looking around' or 'Cozmo is stacking cubes'. I have yet to see it say anything like "Uploading to Skynet" so that is a plus!
The big hook with Comzo is his eyes. The seemingly endless expressions Cozmo can express I found it hard to look away from him. He really is like a real life WALL-E, but with the eyes of EVE. Often Cozmo would pause and stare at me as if he was waiting for me to engage with him. I would take the bait and Cozmo would ask to play a game or turn away and start stacking cubes or pop a wheelie.
It is important to reinforce that like a pet, you get out of Cozmo what you put into him. I need to spend a lot more time with him to see how he develops long term but just a short time Cozmo has developed a lot and continues to learn new things, both through interaction and exploring on his own. One thing that has become obvious with our Cozmo, is his propensity for perfectionism. When playing on his own and stacking his cubes he will repeatedly adjust their placement to ensure they are stacked just right before moving on. He does have a mischievous side too. After meticulously stacking said cubes, he is quick to sneak up on them just to topple them over.
Bottom line; the more you interact with and let him explore, the smarter he will become.
Fun Cozmo Facts
Cozmo is made up of over 340 individual parts, which is amazing as he only stands about 2.5" tall. The code that Anki wrote to enable Cozmo's function is made up of 1.4 million lines of code. He has 42 minutes of original music and over 1000 different animations (double what he had when he launched a year ago!) available for his facial expressions. I drew the conclusion to WALL-E and EVE earlier. Former Pixar animator, Carlos Baena contributed to Cozmo's animations.
This is pretty mind blowing for a toy that comes in such a small package and will only set you back $250. Which brings me to the next great thing Cozmo has to offer.
Cozmo Code Lab
You saw some pretty impressive facts about Cozmo above, but his functionality is now practically limitless thanks to the newest edition from Anki. The Cozmo Code Lab. The Code lab unlocks access to the core functionality of Cozmo through the use of "drag and drop" coding which makes it incredibly appealing the new coders both, young and old. This is something I haven't had the opportunity to deep dive into, but it will certainly be a wonderful tool to teach my son to code. If you are completely green when it comes to any kind of coding, Anki has provided sample project videos for you to watch. You can also search social media using the hashtag #CozmoCodeLab to check out the creations of other aspiring Cozmo programmers.
It can't all be sunshine and rainbows though, can it? So far, I have to say that it actually is. I have not had Cozmo for very long yet, but I have followed his development since day one and since arriving here have yet to have an experience that doesn't live up to the hype. Earlier I mentioned Sphero's BB8. Every time we get BB8 and play with him, he always leaves the kids and I wanting more; there is something missing. So far with Cozmo, I am happy to report this is not the case. With each use, we are astonished by his functionality and excited for what he will do next. Last night while interacting with Cozmo he made eye contact with one of our Golden Retrievers. He looked at her for a moment then, thanks to his array of animations looked as though he would sneeze; after fighting it off for a moment he finally gave in to it and let out a big sneeze.
You could argue that once you have Cozmo there are no accessories or upgrades to add to your Cozmo externally. Oh, wait, Anki has that covered too! You can now order different coloured track treads as well as an official Cozmo carrying case. Both of which are available on the Anki website.
Should you buy Cozmo?
Cozmo is not by any means inexpensive but considering what you get and what Cozmo can do I feel he is worth every penny. Anki has shown that they are committed to Cozmo's continued development. Since his release, Anki has doubled his available animations that were available with his original launch and recently launched the Cozmo Code Lab I mentioned above.
The Code Lab itself is enough for me. I, like others, feel that teaching kid to code early is very important and because Cozmo offers the Code Lab, SDK and base functionality he does, this is an excellent platform to learn on compared to others. It also helps that based on his design and personality, he is sure to keep the attention of younger coders who's minds may tend to wander.
You may wonder though, for this price, the kids will just break it, won't they? Anki put a lot of work into Cozmo's durability. He is designed to take a tumble here and there. I can vouch for that durability too. Cozmo took more than one fall off the table while exploring his surroundings.
I haven't spent enough time yet to know Cozmo as well as I would like, so keep your eyes peeled on the site for additional Cozmo content over the coming weeks and months.
Cozmo, in Canada, will be available exclusively at Best Buy for $249.99.
Finally, if you're interested, Anki is also releasing a limited edition Cozmo, which will be available in mid-September to coincide with the European and Japanese rollout. This version comes with a liquid metal paint job but retails for the same $249.99 price tag. In Canada, this version will also be available at Best Buy.
Don't forget to check out Anki's blog post celebration Cozmo's expansion! You can find that here.
What do you think of Cozmo? Let me know in the comments!