Spanish start-up Aisoy Robotics is marketing a new robot that, while it may look similar to the famous Furby, is actually a fully programmable research and development platform.
The Aisoy1 II robot comes with a variety of sensors (touch, light, position, temperature, and camera), microphone and speaker, RGB LEDs in its body, and a 70 mini-LED matrix display (for animated lips). It can't move around independently without additional modifications, but four servos control the robot's neck rotation, eyelids, and eyebrows.
The package includes a dialogue system for speech recognition and synthesis, as well as computer vision software for stuff like face and object recognition, all running on the Linux operating system. The company claims even complete novices can take advantage of these functions without having to learn how to code thanks to DIA, its visual programming tool. The program runs in HTML5 compatible browsers, allowing you to select nodes that control the robot's various sensors and behaviors. These can be arranged in whatever configuration you want, and the resulting "Botapps" can then be uploaded and shared with other Aisoy users.
One example of a Botapp already available is called AISoy1 Read Math, which uses the robot's camera to recognize and solve written math problems. So you may want to double check that your kid's robot isn't helping them cheat on their homework. Then again, you may consider the robot part of their education (it's compatible with Arduino and ROS by Willow Garage). If you're interested in something a bit more hackable and extensible than the humble Furby, the Aisoy 1 II may be worth looking into because it's not much more expensive. The company is currently taking pre-orders on the robot for €99 (US$129).
The video below shows Aisoy in action.
Source: Aisoy Robotics