You all remember Cozmo. The incredibly lovable, WALL-E-like, robot from Anki. I reviewed Cozmo, and the special edition Cozmo last year and was blown away by how fun and playful this little guy was. Recently, while on vacation we had the "Cozmo Brothers" out, as my son calls them, and even after being with us for about a year the kid's eyes lit up when Cozmo turned to them and called out their name.
If there was one thing that left us wanting more with Cozmo was that he lacked an "always-on" feature. To use Cozmo you needed to sacrifice your tablet or phones WiFi connection to connect and run Cozmo. Once connected, you could let him roam around the area and he would do his own thing, prompting every so often to play a game or let you know he needed some attention. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but it always felt a tad forced and not as natural as we had hoped.
Today, that seems like it is about to change. Anki has announced what they have referred to as "an older brother" to Cozmo. His name is Vector and based on my early impressions of him, he is going to be great!
Vector, unlike little brother Cozmo, has that "always-on" functionality and will be able to zip around on his own. No precious phone WiFi connections need to be sacrificed. Vector also has upgraded internals making him more powerful than before, which should also lead to improved battery life.
Another major development over Cozmo is in the sensor area as well. Vector has a capacitive on his back which lets him feel when you are patting him on the back or petting him much like you would your dog or cat. We're also going to see improved gyro sensors too, which will enhance the experience over Cozmo when moving Vector from place to place.
There are dozens of other improvements that Vector has of little brother, Cozmo, but the last one I'll point out today is his microphone array. With a four-mic array Vector will be able to hear considerably better than Cozmo and from further distances, making him quicker to react and will save you having to raise your voice to get his attention. By itself, this is great and a welcomed addition, but when paired with Vector's always-on WiFi Anki was able to incorporate smart assistant functionality akin to Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant. Vector's assistant functionality will not be on par with that of Google or Amazon, but setting things like timers, trivial web searches, tell you the weather, and more. That is all expected at launch, but if Cozmo's development path is any indicator, the Anki team will work tirelessly to improve Vector over time, adding as much functionality as possible.