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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Robot report: i-Sobot, ElmoSapien, and robo-boredom

Tomy launches the U.S. version of its i-Sobot Web site, turn your Robosapien into a scary Elmo-like robot, play chess against REEM-A, and the Japanese elderly are really bored with robots.

It's only Monday, but the robot news has been coming fast and furious of late. Fast like turbo robot.

  • Tomy launches U.S. version of i-Sobot site: The English version of the Web site for Tomy's $300 robot is now live, just in time for its late October launch. According to Waziwazi, i-Sobot will hit the shelves of Sharper Image and Toys R Us on Halloween day. Waziwazi also has a hands-on review of the robot, along with some good video footage. Tomy and the Guinness Book of World Records claim i-Sobot is the world's smallest commercial bipedal bot.

  • Gizmo Watch

  • REEM-A plays chess, recognizes faces: Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov and everything, but IBM's chess-playing supercomputer didn't have much personality. A chess-playing robot called REEM-A, developed by PAL Technology Robotics may not have as good a chess game, but you'd probably have more fun playing it. Gizmo Watch has more about the 4-foot 10-inch, claw-equipped robot and some YouTube clips of REEM-A doing its thing.

  • Robots Rule

  • Turn your Robosapien into ElmoSapien: Robots Rule has created a customized ElmoSapien personality for the WowWee Robosapien. You can get instructions on how to install the files and download them all right here. Just be sure to watch the video first (below), because ElmoSapien is creepy as all hell. Elmo costume not included.


  • Japanese elderly are bored with robots: Don't think you can just buy a robot for Grandma and get out of visiting her so often. According to this Reuters story, robots built for helping and entertaining senior citizens in Japanese nursing homes are wearing out their welcome. In the article, Yasuko Sawada, director of a Kyoto nursing home, is quoted as saying, "The residents liked ifbot for about a month before they lost interest. Stuffed animals are more popular...Most (elderly) people are not interested in robots." Looks like this classic Saturday Night Live skit was pretty accurate.