When you think about advances in technology, specifically robotics, what do you think of? You probably think of the work of Boston Dynamics or maybe even look to Sci-Fi Asimov’s three laws of robotics. I bet the first thing isn’t toys, right? Well, for the creators of Anki Cozmo, that’s exactly what they had in mind.
Cozmo’s story is a fascinating one. So, let’s dive into all the ups and downs of Cozmo and look to the future with Cozmo 2.0.
- Release Date
- Original price
- Units Sold
- Over 500,000
Cozmo 2.0: Specs
- Almost Human - With clever facial expressions, highly-reactive body language and unique voice, it's like Cozmo rolled right out of a movie and into your life.
- Decidedly Durable - Easier than you’d think and tougher than he looks, this educational toy robot is meticulously engineered for durability and security.
- High-tech, Not Technical - With a beginner-friendly interface, Cozmo is the perfect educational robot for kids and adults to learn to creatively code.
- Higher Camera Resolution - Cozmo’s new 2MP camera will enhance his facial recognition; improving his ability to recognize pets and even know if you are smiling.
- Full Color Display - A new full color display will replaces the previous monochrome screen, letting your new robot friend to express a wider range of emotions.
Cozmo isn’t currently available for purchase, but it is on the way. These are the specs posted on Digital Dream Lab’s website. A lot of the hardware is similar to the original Cozmo. The following are some of the updates:
- Increased Battery Life
- Modular Chassis
- Improved HD Camera, 2MP
- Better Movement Sensors
- Redesigned Color Palette
- Available Q3 of 2022
Cozmo 2.0: Where to Buy
Cozmo 2.0 is on the way but fans will still have to wait a little longer for the popular robot. Pre-orders ended in July 2021 and it is set to ship in Q3 of 2022. Pre-orders will be filled first but after that, you can pick up your own Cozmo 2.0 for $299.99. That is about $100 more expensive than the original Cozmo.
If you are looking for a first-gen Cozmo we have good news and bad news. The good news is that they can be found easily on Amazon. Bad news, you are looking at paying around $589 for one in new condition. We were also able to find one used on eBay for $239.97. So, if you’re particularly impatient to pick up your own Cozmo, those are your options. However, looking at all the updates that Digital Dream Labs have made to the design of the original, it is probably safer to wait.
The History of Cozmo: What to Know
Wait, Digital Dream Labs? Didn’t Anki invent the original Cozmo? Well, that’s an interesting story. Anki, the original inventors of Cozmo, was a major player in the robotics start-up space while they were around. And Cozmo was their first major foray into creating AI robot toys.
History of Anki
Like many start-ups, Anki started as a group of friends in college. Boris Sofman, Mark Palatucci, and Hanns Tappeiner, all Robotics students at Carnegie Mellon University, founded the start-up in 2010. They picked up steam when they secured financial support from some heavy hitters in the tech VC space including the legendary firm Andreessen Horowitz. Their first product, Anki Drive, was unveiled at a 2013 Apple press conference with a wide release later that year. Anki Drive fused an IOS app of the same name with remote-controlled cars.
Anki Drive was generally adored among Apple fans both young and old. It was a really cool application for AI and motion tech, and it was pretty fun. This put Anki in a great place with investors as well as they had essentially captured multiple markets, tech enthusiasts, and remote car fans. But Anki had something else cooking. Something that would take advanced AI and robotics technology and give it a friendly face.
History of Cozmo
Cozmo wasn’t like anything else when it was released. Anki shipped Cozmo on October 16, 2016. Anki’s AI robot was an adorable little companion designed to teach kids about technology and deepen technical literacy. The design was very cute, it looked a lot like Pixar’s Wall-E, but it was basically a supercomputer on treads with very advanced AI and movement technology. Cozmo wasn’t completely autonomous, but it was a major step toward that compared to Anki Drive.
Cozmo was programmed with some amazing features and skills. It was designed with what Anki called an “emotion engine” that allowed it to respond to human interaction. For instance, if you were playing one of the many games Cozmo had built-in and it lost, it would bang its arm on the table angrily. But if it won, it would rejoice with a little dance.
These skills were all attached to a companion app that incentivized learning to reach milestones. Completing challenges and goals taught Cozmo more skills and functions. But, some users wanted more. It was great for kids and it offered a really cool practical application for this kind of technology but at the end of the day, it was still just a toy. Anki hoped to answer this by introducing the second-generation robot Vector.
Fall of Anki
This new AI robot was a welcome upgrade from Cozmo and it sold over 1.5 million units. However, a lot of the financial support for Anki had started to slow. This came to a head when Anki’s 3rd round of funding fell through. Anki had made some beloved products but it wasn’t enough to save the robotics company.
In April 2019, after a tearful address to shareholders, Anki shut down. Fortunately, the assets for Cozmo, Vector, and Anki Drive were all purchased by Digital Dream Labs, an educational software company. Digital Dream Labs (or DDL) assumed the maintenance of server access and support for all current Cozmo (and Vector) units. DDL has kept up support for current units, to the relief of many Cozmo owners.
DDL started a Kickstarter later that year to bring back Cozmo and Vector. After some time past it was unclear what the future held for the robots. That was until 2020 when it was announced that DDL had reached a deal with a distributor called, Protempo. Cozmo 2.0 was real and it was on the way!
Cozmo Versions: Each Edition
Cozmo by Anki
Cozmo was special when it came out. That remains true and fans of the AI robot remain nostalgic about their units. It opened a lot of kids and young adults up to the possibilities of technology. It was a smart toy and, at the time, it had a lot of power behind it. In some ways, it is one of the first robots that could interact with humans in a meaningful way. Yes, other products are technically robots but this one tapped into that ever-intangible sense of wonder.
It sold well in its market and keep the company moving while it worked on the second-generation Vector. Cozmo is beloved among its fans but it wasn’t without its hiccups. It was designed for young children but required an app to set it up and maintain it. This meant that an adult needed to set it up and check it for upkeep. It also had a spotty Wi-Fi connection and in some places, this hampered some of its abilities.
With the next generation of Cozmo, Cozmo 2.0 DDL promises to keep the spirit of Cozmo alive but with a lot of hardware upgrades. The focus is still on a coding robot that kids and teens can use to learn about AI, coding, and technical literacy. To that end, DDL has made the chassis with interchangeable parts so that you can customize your own Cozmo as you see fit.
The battery life has been increased from the original to accommodate some of the more powerful hardware. Also, facial recognition has been upgraded, this was one of the original complaints of the first-gen Cozmo. And, they have upgraded the movement controls so Cozmo can take on more complicated movement functions.
Like the original Cozmo, you need the app for set up but it promises to be a lot more responsive and, once it is enabled, needs very little upkeep. For kids who are interested in coding, there is a Coding Workbook called Create with Cozmo available. There is also the CozmoNAUT Coding Curriculum for teachers, which is in partnership with Carnegie Science Center.
- Go on a creative coding journey with your very own robot buddy, Cozmo
- Use code and learn new concepts to make and customise your own games and projects
- Start off on Coder Level I and tackle eight amazing projects that guide you through the basics of coding
- Move up to Coder Level II and try some harder projects that will test your skills and help you learn even more
- Graduate to Coder Level III to create more complex projects with advanced computational concepts
The Public Response
Cozmo was a harder sell than Anki Drive which could appeal to kids, their parents, and Apple fans in general. The issue most users had with Cozmo wasn’t that it didn’t have impressive tech, it is that it didn’t really have much to do. It was $180 for basically a toy that played a few games and looked cute. At least, that’s what a lot of consumers and investors thought.
Cozmo might not have been as easy to understand as Anki Drive or as advanced as Vector, its successor. But it had a quality that is rare to see. It was something that could endear kids and parents alike with technology. With the rise of tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, tech has gained quite a few skeptics, with good reason. Cozmo wasn’t selling data, it wasn’t trying to invest you in an ecosystem of products or push some agenda. It was just a fun little coding robot that looked cute. What more do you need?
Cozmo 2.0 has some amazing educational features for kids interested in coding and a lot of upgrades from the base model. Parents with kids interested in tech or coding look no further this holiday season.