Published Monthly By
T & L Publications, Inc.
430 Princeland Ct., Corona, CA 92879-1300
FAX (951) 371-3052
Webstore Only 1-800-783-4624
Mind / Iron
Toll Free 1-877-525-2539
Outside US 1-818-487-4545
P.O. Box 15277, N. Hollywood, CA 91615
by Bryan Bergeron, Editor ;
Video Gaming and
Consumer entertainment robotics
— once the poster child of robotics —
has been out of the limelight lately.
While the Robosapein, Tri-Bot, or other
Wow Wee robot may be technical
marvels — even with impressive
features ranging from speech to auto
power down — they quickly become
boring. Most kids (and adults) with
normal to short attention spans soon
grow weary of the limited behavior of
consumer entertainment robots.
In most homes, Wow Wee pets and
clones end up as fixtures in a
playroom, ignored by kids and out
of the way of the Roomba.
For me — and I suspect most
SERVO readers — the real excitement
in a Wow Wee or equivalent robot is
modding and, eventually, performing a
full tear-down. I still find it amazing
how much hardware and firmware
robotic engineers can cram into such
small spaces. Unfortunately for the
manufacturers of consumer
entertainment robots, most of the
potential consumers of their products
haven’t the inclination to mod or
perform a ritualistic tear-down.
Combined with the effects of the
economy, let’s just say that the
entertainment robotics industry has
seen better days.
Given the downturn in the
consumer market for entertainment
robotics, it’s not surprising that one of
the most heavily subscribed consumer
robotics presentations at the April 09
RoboBusiness Conference & Expo (held
in Boston) was that of Robotic Gaming.
This relatively new twist on the
relatively poorly performing consumer
robotics arena was highlighted at the
conference by a standing room only
presentation on Robonica (www.
robonica.com), a South African
start-up company. I had the pleasure of
having lunch with Tom Dusenberry, the
Boston-based director of the robotics
company. As the founder and former
CEO of Hasbro Interactive (think games
like Frogger and Rollercoaster Tycoon),
he obviously knows something about
the interactive games market.
If you visit the Robonica website,
you’ll get to see a two-wheeled
Roboni-i in action. The inwardly tilting
wheels give the remote-controlled
robot a menacing look, and the
wireless remote control looks like a
PS-2 controller on steroids. These are
all nice features, but what distinguishes
Roboni-i from other remotely controlled
robots on the market is that robot
is integrated with game software.
The Roboni-i system enables you to
download a game into the robot — say
ball scoop — and then play the game.
Tired of the game? Download another.
Unlike a dumb remotely controlled
robot, the Roboni-i requires continuous
handling during gameplay. You may
have to manage your energy reserves
while collecting tokens, for example.
Whether Robonica or other
robotics companies ultimately succeed
in reviving the consumer entertainment
robotics industry remains to be seen.
However, the approach of hybridizing
robotics with other, known successful
services can’t be all wrong. Perhaps
the same hybridizing approach can be
applied to other areas of robotics, such
as home care and industrial robotics.
VP OF SALES/MARKETING
Jeff Eckert Tom Carroll
Gordon McComb David Geer
Dennis Clark R. Steven Rainwater
Fred Eady Kevin Berry
John Molnar Andrew Alter
Mike Jeffries Pete Smith
Nick Martin Chris Olin
William Smith Paul Verhage
David Calkins Camp Peavy
6 SERVO 08.2009
Copyright 2009 by
T & L Publications, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
All advertising is subject to publisher’s approval.
We are not responsible for mistakes, misprints,
or typographical errors. SERVO Magazine assumes
no responsibility for the availability or condition of
advertised items or for the honesty of the
advertiser. The publisher makes no claims for the
legality of any item advertised in SERVO. This is the
sole responsibility of the advertiser. Advertisers and
their agencies agree to indemnify and protect the
publisher from any and all claims, action, or expense
arising from advertising placed in SERVO. Please
send all editorial correspondence, UPS, overnight
mail, and artwork to: 430 Princeland Court,
Corona, CA 92879.