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Ozobot

Ozobot robotic game pieces can travel on screens or paper. Photo: Kathy Ceceri

I’ve got robots on the brain right now, so it was only natural that I attended Toy Fair New York this year with an eye toward finding new robotic toys. One that grabbed my attention was a tiny robot wanderer called Ozobot.

Lots of screen-based toys for kids aim at breaking that glassy-eyed stare (parents, you know the one I mean) and, if possible, encouraging them to interact with others. Ozobot achieves these aims with the help of a line-following robot that can read lines and colors as it literally drive around on your tablet or smart phone.

Looking like a spacesuit helmet, albeit one the size and shape of a chocolate bonbon, Ozobot works with iOS and Android devices and comes with gaming apps that can be used alone or with other players. It include a drawing game that lets you explore the range of Ozobot’s intelligence; a drag-and-drop tile game where you try to build a path for Ozobot to follow; and a game of chance where the route Ozobot chooses through a maze determines the winner.

What’s really cool is that Ozobot easily travels from screen to physical game board or paper and back again. Robotics and digital gaming fans can no doubt imagine many more ways to play with Ozobot — and future plans call for a program to allow third parties to develop their own apps for the Ozobot platform within a year.

Watch for more posts this week from Toy Fair New York.

Kathy Ceceri

Kathy’s book Making Simple Robots will be published by MAKE later this year. She is also author of Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future, co-author of GeekMom, and About.com’s Homeschooling Expert. Her website is Crafts for Learning.


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