One of the many unique products I saw while at CES 2014 was the Ozobot. I lucked out at the booth and got a chance to speak to the team without having swarms of others around me. The Ozobot booth, and the robotics area as a whole, typically teemed with the curious.
I was able to witness firsthand what the Ozobot is and how it does. This teeny robot, roughly the size of a Lindt truffle (mmmm), features sensors that allows it to follow lines and determine color. The little guy scoots along paths, be them digital (e.g. tablet) or real (e.g. paper). It can even cross between both too.
The Ozobot does more than just move forward. There are a number of patterns that users can create in order to modify the robot’s speed or pathing sequence. The sensors are quick too, as Ozobot immediately executes an action as soon as it’s discovered.
There are a few simple tablet games that come with the Ozobot. Young kids are more likely to be entertained by them as opposed to big kids (adults). But the developers are working on more games, and they know the app community has a lot of creativity just waiting to be tapped.
Cynics? Oh, I’m sure they’ll point out how the Ozobot treats forked-paths with a digital coin-flip, or how the Ozobot only “follows instructions.” But that’s just too obvious, isn’t it? It’s like saying that a Japanese rock garden is only rocks and sand, which completely misses the point. (There’s actually a Zen-like quality of idly drawing concentric patterns on a tablet while having the Ozobot slowly following along).
The concept and purpose behind Ozobot is what makes it special. The potential is what makes it exciting. There is a lot of imagination that can and will stem from the Ozobot. How do I know? Go to a local hobby store and find someone who loves model train sets. Talk to them and you’ll find out how in-depth a simple train and tracks can get!
The Ozobot is now funding up on Kickstarter. I’m sure they’ll make some tweaks, think of more accessories, and gather up feedback from backers in the meantime. But based on the prototypes I saw live at CES 2014, they’re definitely poised and ready for the production line.