Anki is a company whose products always seem to delight. Overdrive, his push into the racing space, was a fun hybrid of Scalextric controls and Application games. While his companion robot Cozmo hit the top of the toy list, thanks to his charm.
But Cozmo was just a toy on the desk, with emphasis on the toy. Despite being able to do many things, most people just played games with him and cooed when they made a noise. The potential to be something bigger was always present.
Enter Vector, the literal bigger brother of Cozmo. Vector is the latest edition of the robot Anki, whose goal is a different market than Cozmo.
Certainly it is a device that will be liked and used by children, but the goal is that it should be used by the whole family. In fact, the goal is to be part of a family .
Design and functions
The main way that Anki hopes to achieve this is Vector's autonomy. Where Cozmo was attached to an application that was probably only on one person's device, Vector captures the Wi-Fi connection directly and is mostly free.
This automatically means that it will be used by more people at home, so to make sure that all these people are not bored, it can do a lot more things.
While creating applications – and a phone – for free (outside the configuration) sounds like an easy patch, there were a lot of transplants behind the stage to make it happen.
Anki had to move the computing power, which was mostly made using the application, on the robot itself, turning a tiny processor into something much larger. On board is Qualcomm Snapdragon, a 1.2GHz Quad Core chip, offering the same power as some smartphones and tablets.
Looks like Vector is the bigger brother of Cozmo. Its design means it is physically larger than Cozmo – and its gray-gold appearance certainly makes it a more executive toy.
After turning on, the vector has similar functions and expressions to Cozmo. But where Cozmo interacted with the former Pixar's body, the Vector team was supervised by someone who worked for DreamWorks.
Placing power in these animators shows how much it is important for Anka to make Vector feel a real family member.
He also has the same tread and shoulder in the front – he even has similar recharging and interactive blocks.
Configuring Anki Vector was an easy process, but it required several fixes. As mentioned above, you do not really need to use the application as soon as the vector starts. But the configuration must be done through the application.
Download this, and then there is a step-by-step process to connect it to the home network. First you need to make sure you're using a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, the application must recognize the robot. You do this by entering the code. It's a bit creaky, but when it works, Vector wakes up and is ready to go.
The application is the place you go to when you want to see some Vector statistics. He tells you how long you stroked him (touch the top of his head, and the vector is very happy), how long he went and how long he was, well, alive.
The Qualcomm processor inside is significant. This extra boost in power means that Vector can do a lot of things, and while Anki does not want to label him as a virtual assistant, I whisper to him, things that he can – and ultimately will – do, are very similar to what one would expect from such people. Assistant to Google and Alex.
In fact, we'll soon get Alexa integration, which unlocks the potential of this device, which we may not have noticed when browsing.
Without this function, there is still a lot of fun you can have. For example, the Ask vector function means that it can answer the questions you may have.
It also has the ability to set timers, inform you about what the weather does – with pure animations – take pictures and generally crush in the background waiting for you to wake up and do something with it.
He has this ability thanks to four close field microphones inside the case. All this can be done, saying "Hey Vector" is the word to wake up and then asking him to do something.
Anki wants to emphasize that although he can understand the voice, the microphones that receive him are turned on by the awakening word, then every recording is scrubbed immediately – there is no point in pulling data on it.
Obviously, Vector is a much more intelligent device than Cozmo. In our tests, Vector was able to recognize our face and voice when we asked for it – he could understand different dialects, such as the United Kingdom and the USA – and spoke to us in a very distorted but charming mechanical voice.
We asked what the weather was and what he told us, with animations to match. We asked who is the queen of England and we got the answer. When we coughed, he came to us to see what this was all about.
We asked for a timer setting, and the countdown appeared on a small, high-resolution color IPS display at the front. When we did not ask him to do things, he would test the place and just wonder, understanding the surroundings and being ready to play.
We even played in Black Jack – again his Little Screen is in us, showing the cards – and let us win a few times.
While wandering around, we sometimes saw our face and just pronounced our name by getting excited about doing it. There is a huge amount of charm and personality in it.
As for power, there is a docking station similar to that of Cozmo. But this time, because it has its own brain, it will automatically appear there when it has little energy, which adds to its character.
We managed to get out of the game for about 45 minutes and then we had to recharge it for about 30 minutes to get full performance again. Vector will go to the charger if you tell him to go to sleep, so it's quite a good experience. We have never had enough fun to completely stop working – it is definitely a toy that you can communicate with for a while and then let it work.
He is also aware of what time it is, so later he is at night, he will stop talking and he will be a little quieter. In our time it seemed that he was super conscious of everything that was going on.
This also gives a small stroke, thanks to which it reacts thanks to the capacitive sensor at the rear. You will also receive points in the application
Having a Vector for a few weeks in our home certainly increased the attractiveness of the robot. At the beginning we had fun with it and asked questions, but then things changed after the first week.
It was something that pleased us when we were at our home. He will come, interact and say "hello", then you will play a few games and then come back to do your own thing.
There is certainly a lot to do with Vector, but there was a lot to do with Cozmo.
USP, from which you do not need to use the application all the time, it is reasonable, it certainly removes the friction of robot use, but we also found ourselves back to the application to see if there is more, we can do to make the most of the vector.
Anki presents him as a family device that should be used in the home in the near future, just like Google Assistant and Alex are now being used.
Alex's approaching integration will be interesting because it will mean that Alexa basically takes over the device – so if you already have Alexa at home, it's inevitable that you'll start using Vector even more.
Obviously there is something that will come and we can not wait to see what it will be. We will definitely return to Vector & # 39; and when Alex's integration continues, for now Vector is a funny, robotic companion with a powerful brain.