Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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December 23, 2011 • Reviews

The KeepOn Interactive Robot Review

The famous Keepon® Pro robot made quite a splash on a Web music video.  Now Wow! Stuff offers the KeepOn® interactive robot for $39.99 (suggested retail price) this holiday season.

The Hype

This little robotic toy stands just two-tennis-balls-high, but it has BIG personality! With yellow, textured skin, My Keepon is cute, lovable and insatiably curious, craves attention, reacts to touch, and has the amazing ability to listen to music, detect the beat and dance in perfect rhythm. Features Touch and Dance modes of play for hours of fun and entertainment for all ages, 6 and up.   8 “AA” batteries required (not included). AC adaptor compatible (not included).  MSRP: $39.99.

My Keepon is based on its cousin Keepon® Pro, a $30,000 research robot created by two scientists who have been using Keepon in playrooms to study social development and autism.  Keepon Pro danced its way to YouTube fame with millions of people watching, which had fans asking for their very own Keepon.  The scientists teamed up with toymaker Wow! Stuff to create My Keepon, an interactive toy version. A portion of every My Keepon toy purchase will be used to distribute Keepon® Pro research robots to researchers and practitioners investigating the use of robots in autism therapy.

The Reality

Need an electronic toy reacting to sound and touch? Wow! Stuff and BeatBots have made an interactive robot especially for children. The KeepOn interactive robot weighs about two pounds, and stands 10.5 inches tall. It has two modes, dance and touch. The default mode is touch if users do not press anything.

The top section resembles two stacked tennis balls that move with two eyes containing cameras and a nose containing a microphone for the face. The upper body “skin” has a yellow color and very unique rubber-like texture with some grip for more deliberate interactions that sensor can pick up easier when receiving from the user.

The tall black cylinder base below the tactile yellow robot has four motors inside, a power switch on the bottom and a hatch/compartment that holds eight “AA” batteries (not included). Thankfully, users can plug in the robot instead of using up batteries. The AC power adapter is rated 12 V DC, 1.5 A with 3.5 mm plug (also not included). A USB cord option would have been nice.

This robot has two modes, dance (left button) and touch (right button). The default mode is touch if users do not press anything.

The start-up sequence lasts about five seconds. The robot enters sleep mode when it does not sense/“hear” anything or gets “tired”. Users can also enter the sleep mode by pushing both buttons at same time. Wake up the robot by pressing either mode button or give it a pat on head. This cute dancing robot has no volume control, so it commands attention. Background noises hurt performance.

The start-up sequence lasts about five seconds. The robot enters an auto shutdown mode when it does not sense/“hear” anything or gets “tired”. The auto shutdown feature preserves battery life. Users can also enter the sleep mode by pushing both buttons at same time.

Non-responsive interactions for a long period reflect a low battery life (see above video). Wake up the robot by pressing either mode button or give it a pat on head.

This cute dancing robot has no volume control, so it commands attention. Background noises hurt performance, so try to focus the audio sources toward it when possible. The movements can be jerky at times plus. It chirps, beeps, and turns toward users when spoke to or poked on the back. It “sneezes” when users “scratch” the nose. Pats draw responses while “tickles” draw a different response.

In dance mode, the robot reacts to snaps, claps, and music. The robot initially processes the music then catches a rhythm. Green Day worked especially well while the same song yield different results.

In touch mode, the robot emulates emotional states like annoyance, fatigue, sadness, content, and laughter. The four sensor points on the upper body are located on the front, back, left, and right side.

Obviously some cleaning is involved and most users would know not to immerse the robot. Users should wipe the upper body with a damp cloth and mild soap. The tactical rubber-like skin does attract dirt easily, especially when dropped on a dirty carpet.

The Keepon robot reminded me of the simple joys like the bobble drinking bird and dancing Coke can. This robot has great potential for customized accessories that reflect the users, friends and family instead of being the same as all the others. Hand-made hats and other accessories like glasses make great additions plus add to the experience as a fun filled activity. An ideal hat diameter is between two and two-and-a-half inches. Different color skins would be great too.

Originally used in labs and to help autistic children interact in different ways, the Keepon robot provides interactive entertainment in an original way. No limbs. No problem. The charming movements and kirky characteristics work well for kids. The auto shutdown mode occasionally interrupts the new interaction avenues through the robotic sensors, but the overall experience still impresses. Maybe an affordable Keepon® Pro could be on the horizon.

Review: KeepOn Interactive Robot

Where to Buy: Toys R’ Us and other stores

Price: $39.99 and lower (even at $19.99 on Toys R’ Us’ website – December 22, 2011)

What I Like:  responsive interaction, face moves toward voice/sounds, tangible entertainment, great for kids, customizable accessory possibilities, varying movements even when playing the same song or sound pattern

What Needs Improvement: USB cord plug-in option, option preventing automatic shutdown, more fluid movements, more natural reactions and dancing

Source: Copy provided by publisher

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