Classic children's toy Meccano has gone digital, releasing a programmable kit robot that can be controlled by voice recognition. The toymakers say Meccanoid G15 KS is easy to use and is compatible with existing Meccano pieces. Jim Drury reports.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Meccano has been an iconic educational toy for generations of kids. Some of the world's finest engineers learnt their craft by assembling complex designs with the classic metal strips, nuts, bolts, and girders. But now the iconic brand, also known as Erector Set, has gone robotic. UPSOT: Hey, I am the Meccanoid G15 KS. I was created to interact with human beings and learn from them. With movable head and arms, motorised feet, and LED eyes, the kit robot can be programmed three ways. UPSOT: I come installed with a technology called Learned Intelligent Motion. Learned Intelligent Motion works by the user physically moving the Meccanoid while speaking to it. The robot then repeats both motion and words. UPSOT: I make programming robots fun and simple..... Alternatively, a 'ragdoll avatar' app can be used on tablet or smartphone. A third option uses motion capture to mimic users' movements via a chest-mounted smartphone camera. An onboard 'Mecca Brain' and voice recognition allows it to repeat thousands of phrases and respond to more than a hundred pre-programmed voice commands. As a nod to its history, owners Spin Master have made the Meccanoid G15 KS compatible with classic Meccano pieces. On sale this summer for just under 400 dollars, this friendly 'droid is set to bring a whole meaning to the term 'childhood friend'. UPSOT: Thank you, thank you. That was fun. Let's so it again sometime.