Back in July I posted the blog ‘Top tips for introducing assistive technology to young children’. This blog takes a step forward and covers an innovative piece of technology which is revolutionising the way we work with young children.
Meet Cozmo, this decade’s answer to Tamagotchi.
Cozmo is a small talking robot who can communicate with you — imagine a hamster but slightly less smelly and not as likely to run away. He comes with 3 light up boxes which are fundamental to Cozmo’s life. Cozmo is controlled via an application compatible with Android and iOS, however this little guy also has a mind of his own.
Once you have downloaded the application, open it up and follow the simple instructions to connect it to Cozmo. The application is very user friendly and includes an extremely useful tutorial — make sure that you go through this, it will make looking after Cozmo much easier.
Once Cozmo is all set-up, he will wander around his surroundings to become familiar with his environment and play with his blocks independently. This may make for some very confused household pets. There is a bar at the bottom of the app which tells you what Cozmo is doing, he might do a back flip or stack his blocks. Cozmo does like human interaction and will ask you to play games with him, he can also learn to recognise you and greet you by name.
At the top of the app there are three bars, ‘Play’, ‘Tune Up’ and ‘Feed’, these bars need to be kept topped up to ensure Cozmo is happy and well looked after. See! Just like those old Tamagotchis. This is a great way to teach children how to take care of something without any risk attached, it also utilises those cause and effect skills. To feed Cozmo, shake one of his blocks until the light stays solid blue and leave it somewhere Cozmo can see it, he will find it and refuel. ‘Tune Up’ keeps Cozmo in good health ensuring that any necessary calibration is completed. Think of it as a quick visit to the vets for a check up.
There are many ways to play with Cozmo — ‘Code Lab’, ‘Explorer Mode’, ‘Games’, ‘Tricks’ and ‘Cozmo Performs’. Let’s start with ‘Cozmo Performs’. In this section you can use basic cause and effect by tapping an emotion, action or impression and then seeing Cozmo perform this. Once the cause and effect of Cozmo has been mastered, you can move on to creating a sequence of actions and putting on a tiny robot production.
‘Tricks’ is a little like ‘Cosmo Performs’ but a bit more advanced. In here you can ask Cozmo to do things like pounce on fingers, fist bump or roll a cube, but Cozmo won’t do tricks for nothing, instead he will exchange them for ‘Sparks’. This is also the case if you want to play a game. There is something very exciting about playing a game of quick tap with a robot! This is essentially Snap but with light up coloured cubes, great for colour recognition as well as having fun. The more you play the more games you can unlock. Another game available is ‘Memory Match’, a fabulous way to practise using your working memory in a safe and fun environment.
‘Code Lab’ is an exciting feature allowing you to freestyle code or follow the handy hints and tips to learn the basics. There are different coding labs available depending on your coding ability. Coding is becoming more popular and this is a great way to start learning what coding is and how to implement the basics.
‘Sandbox Mode’ is the level for beginners. This is similar to ‘Cozmo Performs’ but starts to introduce the idea of ‘then’ for example, move forward then smile then act like a cat. ‘Loops’ (repeats) can also be introduced at this level.
Finally, ‘Explorer Mode’. This mode allows you to control Cozmo using your phone or tablet, in a similar way you would control a remote control car. The difference here is that you can see what Cozmo sees on your screen and control his actions as you guide him around. When you have finished playing, place Cozmo on his charger and send him to sleep until you are ready to play again.
This little robot does a lot more than I ever expected, the features cater for many different ages and abilities meaning it is fun for the whole family. The social aspect is particularly impressive, Cozmo can recognise humans and pets and he thrives on human interaction. It is the social skills of Cozmo which I really feel sets him apart from the other toys and robots on the market. The app is intuitive and easy to navigate with great tutorials, there is no need to read a manual as everything you need to know is outlined within the app.
Unfortunately, as it is with some consumer robotics companies, Anki has entered liquidation. Cozmo is still available to buy but don’t hang about!
Is it too late to add Cozmo to my Christmas list?