WowWee RoboMe Review: Full of Character and Ready to RollPosted by Peter Redmer on Friday, 8 November 2013
I've always admired WowWee Technologies for the creativity and the thought and detail that goes into their products. The newest 'bot to hit the block, RoboMe, encapsulates WowWee's devotion to its fans and borrows some of the best ideas they have had in past robots to combine it all together.
I feel as if RoboMe is the distant upgraded relative of Mr. Personality and Tri-Bot. You can clearly see the DNA at work, but don't be fooled -- RoboMe is a whole new robot.
Who is RoboMe?
RoboMe is a customizable robot companion who is full of features. On the simple end, RoboMe is able to navigate and explore rooms with his built-in sensors, alternately allowing control via an included remote. He can also respond to various stimuli, such as voice commands, "shaking" his hand, and more.
He doesn't stop there, though... when equipped with an Apple iPhone or iPod (mounted where his "head" would be) he can be thoroughly customized to the user's liking. There's even a telepresence app allowing for remote control of RoboMe from anywhere via an iPad. Let's learn more, shall we?
Right out of the box, RoboMe is full of spirit and individuality. He comes with a number of abilities, games, and behaviors built in.
For example, he can use his sensors to navigate and explore the room on his own, stopping when he spots the edge of a table or a wall. His "big wheel" setup makes him quite adaptable to different surface materials, so RoboMe can be used on tile, carpet, virtually anywhere.
We did find that RoboMe sometimes "detects" sunlight (or lack thereof) as a wall or boundary; we suspect this is the sensor, but overall he gets around amazingly well on his own.
In addition to an auto-explore mode, users can control RoboMe via the remote control for more precise action.
Let's move on to learn how you can customize RoboMe.
This is really the key part of the RoboMe experience: customization. First, you'll need to plug in a compatible iPhone or iPod Touch as well as download the RoboMe app from the App Store. Once the device and RoboMe are connected, a wealth of options is open to users.
One of the easiest things to do is customize RoboMe's voice and appearance. Users can pick from one of many themes to start off with, including various human and robotic faces -- now with superhero masks, too! Sliding across the various face sections, like the face-matching games of yore, can transform your RoboMe into a totally different personality.
However, the app lets you take RoboMe customization to the next level, in many ways. There are two parts to this customization -- triggers and actions. Triggers use one of RoboMe's many sensors and functions to start an action. For example, "shaking" RoboMe's hand, a specific voice input command such as "do a dance" or "who's your daddy," when he runs into a wall, and so on.
RoboMe then has 19 different actions that he can complete when one of those triggers is activated -- including a unique voice response (that the user can record), various pre-programmed emotions, or a custom string of actions such as spin in a circle and smile, for example.
In this way, the opportunities with RoboMe are limitless. Terrorize your cat! Annoy your significant other! Harass your parents! Or, simply have fun putting your own personality into your robot.
Remember WowWee's Rovio? It looks like some of that inspiration has made its way into RoboMe with its telepresence feature. Telepresence refers to the fact that you can control RoboMe remotely and "see" what he sees, with the iPhone installed and the iPad app as a controller. In short, users can drive RoboMe with the iPad app, over the Internet, from anywhere! I think this mischievous young man demos the functionality perfectly:
In our experience, RoboMe was a lot of fun to play with, even for us adults. The voice recognition is surprisingly good in rooms without a lot of background noise, and we were very impressed with the variety of options available to really make RoboMe your own creation. Plus, the app is easy to use for basic functions, and makes the custom actions straightforward to set up. It is always fun to program custom voice commands, especially while driving him around at the office, to humorous results!
There are a few quirks to take note of, including that RoboMe doesn't perform well with voice recognition in a noisy room -- this isn't unusual for any voice recognition product. A few times, he mistakenly read a break between sunlight and shade as a "barrier," or didn't detect an edge when he was supposed to, but overall this function worked very well.
Overall, this is a heck of a lot of robot for the price - ~$99-129 USD gets you quite a bit of technology. The fact that an iPod or iPhone is needed to get the most out of RoboMe could be considered a downside, but the reality is that a LOT of folks already have an iDevice in their home -- meaning that this will probably be an extra cost for few. Being an Android guy myself, I was disappointed with the lack of an Android app, but I have a feeling as RoboMe gets raving fans, one might just come along at some point. (Or at least, I hope so!)
Program for RoboMe with the Available SDK
Finally, this is big news for the programmers and enthusiasts out there -- RoboMe has a publicly available SDK (software development kit) that will allow enterprising developers the chance to make their own apps for RoboMe. This means the possibilities are truly, literally endless for what RoboMe could do, and we're excited to see what the community comes up with.