Paws up who remembers the original Teksta the Robotic Puppy from 1999? Called Tekno in the US, the first Teksta was incredibly detailed and well-specified for its time. Sony's Aibo was popular around then but prohibitively expensive, so Teksta/Tekno became a huge Christmas hit.
Now Character Options has brought back the robopup, rounded off the edges to give it a cuter, more Japanese appearance, and added 2013 technology to increase its ability set - including iPad app interaction.
Among its new feature set, the 2013 Teksta has an increased ability to learn and is capable of some cooler stunts than before. One we saw at London's Toy Fair was the puppy's new flipping feature - wave your arm upwards and say "flip" and it will do a complete somersault, landing on its feet.
There's loads more that we didn't get to see, but there are all manner of hand gestures that can be used to make Teksta do different things. It has "petting recognition", which doesn't mean it will seek out teenagers on the back row of cinemas, but a series of touch sensors on different parts of the dog's body will change its personality and mode.
Sound recognition allows Teksta to understand myriad spoken commands and interact accordingly, and it can dance when music is played.
There is an auto stop function to ensure it doesn't wildly crash into objects. Its eyes light up in different ways to display different emotions, while its mouth is magnetic, so it can interact with an included bone accessory - even fetch it.
However, it is the connectivity options this time around that really help Teksta appeal to modern kids. Infrared tech is included so your Teksta can speak to another, with them learning from each other as they do. It has wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi we presume, for a good reason) so will react to an application run on a "device". We saw Teksta work with an iPad, so that one is for certain, but we hear that it will work on iPhone eventually too - although iPad support will be available from day one. Apps for other devices and smartphones - such as Android - are also planned.
The app will let you control Teksta in a number of ways. You can play music on the device to have him dance - as Character says: "Doing the Gangnam Style is even in the pup's smooth moves." There's a FaceTime-like option to allow you to communicate with him remotely. And, if you play a tune on the app's on-screen keyboard, Teksta will bark it back to you in robotic song.
From our brief time with Teksta at Toy Fair it was hard not to fall a little in love with the wee fella. It will be available in July in both blue and pink colour schemes and will retail for £59.99, which is actually very reasonable, considering.
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