Hands-on: Ozobot's multi-surface small robot and apps for iOS review

Ozobot is at the 2014 NYC Toy Fair, where Pocket-lint got a chance to meet the company's CEO and see a demonstration of its cute robot.

Ozobot, as you might have guessed, is a small robot with optical and colour-reading sensors. It recognises and follow colours on the LCD of an iPad or even a paper drawing on a table. In fact, the Ozobot can understand more than 1,000 sets of instructions.

But, primarily, Ozobot works with four free apps called OzoPath, OzoLuck, OzoRace and OzoGroove. They're initially available for iOS (Android versions coming later) and present different challenges to Ozobot and to you. OzoRace, for instance, is a two-robot racing app that features a physical track assembled around the tablet, and OzoGroove is a simple dancing and music-listening app.

"OzoGroove is mesmerising, you get lost watching it dance and move," Nader Hamda, CEO of Ozobot, told Pocket-lint. "But the thing I like most is that it brings social back to gaming. Being social with your friends and family - that was the great thing about old board games. And we hope Ozobot can bring that back.

"Apps are solitary, single-player," Hamda added. "Ozobot forces interaction."

Ozobot, which is just slightly over 1-inch tall, looks for precise patterns, colours and lights on any surface, and then it can follow lines, auto-detect surfaces, seamlessly transition between surfaces, increase or decrease speed variables, and more. The Ozobot essentially interacts with surfaces and colours, making it seem both alive and free-moving.

Ozbot is interesting because it can bring a new level to gaming on a mobile device. And over the next year Ozobot will also announce a programme to allow interested third-parties to develop their own apps for the Ozobot platform. You can expect this to launch in the fourth-quarter of 2014, according to Hamda.

As for when you can get your hands on Ozobot, the small robot and its four apps will launch by the end of the year for $59.95. Pricing for the UK is yet to be revealed. You will also have the choice of two skin colours, titanium black and snow white. Hamda said more OzoSkins, such as ones with funky hair or even propellers, are coming soon.

In our brief demo of Ozobot, we thought the idea was definitely interesting. The robot itself looked adorable and high-tech enough without being too complex for kids, and we certainly liked the idea of Ozobot's racing app because it allowed for multi-player gaming in a family setting.



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