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Get your own Keepon dance robot for $40

Keepon, that robotic stack of tennis balls that loves to get down, will be released as a toy. What else are you gonna do with $40?

Keepon, exposed, at the 2009 iRex show in Tokyo. The toy version might be somewhat less sophisticated. Tim Hornyak/CNET

Here's some Craveworthy news: a toy version of the very cute, very cool dancing robot Keepon is in the works, and it will sell for only $40.

BeatBots, the firm behind the Keepon project, has teamed with Britain's Wow Stuff to develop the dance machine into a toy called My Keepon. A prototype is being shown off this week at the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

So far, the high-end, $30,000 version of Keepon, developed by Marek Michalowski and Hideki Kozima, has been used in Japan and the U.S. as a telepresence tool for autism research and therapy.

Keepon can look around with its camera eyes, bounce up and down like an excited baby, and dance to a groove. It has proved wildly endearing despite--or perhaps because of--its very simple design, lacking limbs and a mouth.

It's unclear what a $40 toy version will be able to do, but Wow says (PDF) that it aims to capture the robot's "reactivity to touch and an amazing ability to listen to music, detect the beat, and dance in perfect rhythm." Part of the sales will go toward subsidizing Keepon robots for use in research and therapy.

We'll look for more details in two weeks, when an announcement about distribution through a major retailer will be made. Until then, here's Keepon's most famous video.