The Jetson family had Rosie the Robot Maid. The Doctor had K-9. The Fantastic Four had H.E.R.B.I.E. Having a personal robot at your beck and call is one of advances of the modern age. At present, they can only vacuum your house, clean your cat’s little box and get you a snack but ever since the fifties toy robots have entertained children of all ages. The Ozobot takes things a step further.
Described as a “social robot”, the Ozobot is a programmable robot for kids and adults alike. Looking more like a futuristic vehicle rather than a humanoid, the Ozobot has infrared proximity sensors on the sides and a color sensor on the bottom which allows it to sense and avoid barriers and to be programmed with the use of coloured markers, a playfield or a piece of blank paper. Mark up the paper in the correct way and the Ozobot will follow your lead and do what it is asked to do. Because the process is so simple, it is a great introduction to elementary programming for younger children. That programming though can evolve from just following a predetermine path to executing a series of complex instructions.
The Ozobot set I received came with an Ozobot, a playfield, an Ozobot skin, four markers, a carrying pouch for the Ozobot and USB cable to charge the Ozobot.
The Ozobot is not a large toy though. It fits in the palm of your hand and is about the size of a Hot Wheels toy car. Because of that, it may not be the best idea for really young children. They would need to be supervised when using the Ozobot or they could end up losing it or worse.
For such a small device though it is very versatile. After downloading the mobile app you can remotely control the Ozobot, drive it around, program different voices, skills and even play mini-games with it.
The Ozobot is detailed with a set of colorful lights which not only give it a vibrant look but give it personality, like the Ozobot will flash red if annoyed or angry.
The one sent to me came with the Hulk: Avenger Action skin (sold separately) which really dressed up the Ozobot quite nicely. I actually prefer that look but that’s just me. There is a specialized Avengers course but you have download it from the official site and print it out and tape, glue it together. Once you attached the skin though it loads new part of the app which gives the Ozobot Hulk’s voice – Hulk smash! – sayings, behaviours, which is cool.
As a “social robot”, Ozobot is supposed to detect and interact with other Ozobots. Since I only ever had the one I didn’t have the chance to test that functionality out in any way.
As teaching tool Ozobot is a fantastic mash-up of education and fun. As a toy though, it does have its limits. I am not fully convinced that it will keep the attention of some children especially when it is competing against video games, iPads and the like. For children who are really into science and technology and have a healthy inclination to learn more about how things work and the world around them, the Ozobot will do all of that and more.
- THE GOOD
- Great for kids who are into science, technology.
- The Marvel skins open new content, fun.
- Easy to use.
- The mobile app is simple and no connection problems with the Ozobot.
- THE BAD
- In time, some kids may lose interest.
- The size might make it a hazard for younger children.
Ozobot is a novel way to introduce kids to the wonders of technology.