Not all that long ago a bag of marbles or a deck of cards might have been the go-to tools for a bit of family fun, but today's households harbor all kinds of games, both virtual and real-world. Combining the two by bringing robotics into the mix promises an interesting blend of education and entertainment, something startup CutThroatRobotics is aiming to achieve with ZoZbot. A basic omnidirectional rover at a minimum and a customizable, multi-purpose gaming platform at most, ZoZbot can be put to work in everything from lounge room floor soccer matches to table-top games of pool.
ZoZbot has some similarities to the Molebot and Ozobot – gaming solutions that blend the virtual and physical worlds by positioning robotics in between. While Molebot had users move a robotic game piece around a board through a joystick or Microsoft's Kinect, Ozobot used the more familiar smartphone for its input device.
With many young minds growing up with these mobile devices at their fingertips, it's no real surprise that CutThroatRobotics has gone down a similar path. Through a companion smartphone app, users control the robot as it scoots around the "ZoZadium," a modular playpen that can be customized for different games. With wooden walls and holes for the included set of "ZoZBalls" to roll through, this stage might be set for robotic variations of old favorites like pool, soccer, mini-golf or pinball.
The company hopes that its users' collective imaginations will take over from there. It has planned a series of modules through which it hopes to extend the functionality and possibilities for ZoZbot owners. These include a claw for interacting with objects, a camera for a first-person view of the action and a projectile device for firing at things. The thinking is as new modules are made available, users can dream up new games and then modify and program their ZoZbots to take part, and in doing so learn about robotics in the process.
Currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, ZoZbot is available for preorder through an early pledge of US$100. If the campaign runs as planned, shipping is slated for May 2016.
You can check out the pitch video below.