The world of teaching robots may soon get an additional member if the Inidegogo campaign for the Honeybot is successful. Designed by Chinese tech company Hui Yu, the Honeybot robot is billed as an interactive, Android-based robot that uses what the company is calling 3D Augmented Reality (AR) to both teach and entertain kids ages 3 to 8 years old.
Using a combination of 3D effects, image recognition and color-extraction technology, along with pre-installed apps, the list of what the company says this 10-inch (25.4 cm) robotic sprite can do can be impressive, although the gizmo can also seem like nothing more than a tablet screen embedded in a robot-shaped piece of plastic.
That can have its benefits though, and the device certainly seems designed to capture kids' attention.
For instance, the AR Aquarium app teaches about marine animals by turning a kid's drawings into 3D cartoon animations featuring various ocean scenes. Hold the finished drawing up to Honeybot's screen and it's projected there and on a smart TV connected to the robot via Wi-Fi. We're not entirely sure this is true augmented reality, as it seems AR up to this point involves looking through something to see an enhanced view of the world rather than having the world brought onto a screen. The effect, however, is still fun and sure to get some smiles from kids.
The AR Yolk World app works similarly, but uses 3D imaging to give kids the opportunity to interact with up to 90 different cards depicting lifelike images of dinosaurs, animals and vehicles.
Another app teaches kids about taking care of Honeybot as if it were a pet that needs to be fed, bathed and put to bed.
Parents can used the voice feature to record a greeting or phrase that can then be projected through the Honeybot audio system, either in their real voice or in funny voices the robot creates. The Honeybot also sings and can read short stories out loud.
For parents concerned about too much interaction with Honeybot, the developers integrated a playtime control that reminds parents to put the robot into dormant mode or turn it off altogether after 30 minutes of use.
Once shipped, the Honeybot will come with over 200 audio and video learning materials developed initially for either English or Mandarin speakers with more languages to come. Since it's Android based, it works with all Google Play apps.
The Honeybot features a 5-inch (12.7 cm) HD display and connects to a home network via Wi-Fi. A 1.3 GHz quadcore processor powers the brains of the robot, and a small 3W hi-fi speaker gives it its "voice."
Hui Yu recently launched their Indiegogo campaign to raise US$30,000 to help bring the Honeybot to market. Early backers can order Honeybot for between $229.00 to $259.00 depending on the version, and for that you'll get the robot, a charger, cables, AR Aquarium drawing card, the AR Yolk World card, a remote control, and free shipping. That's a discount from the expected starting list price of $349.00 that you'll have to pay if the company is successful in bringing Honeybot to market.
If all goes as planned, the company expects to ship this teaching robot by November of this year.
Check out the video below to find out more about the Honeybot and how it works.