Anki - Cozmo

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Company: Anki, San Francisco, CA
Company Description: Anki is harnessing robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver magical experiences that push the boundaries of the human experience. Founded in 2010 by three Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute graduates, Anki creates consumer experiences using cutting-edge technology that was once confined to robotics labs and research institutes.
Nomination Category: New Product & Service Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Consumer Electronics

Nomination Title: Anki's Cozmo

Tell the story about this nominated product or service (up to 650 words). Describe its function, features, benefits, and performance to date.

For decades, we’ve seen charismatic robots come to life in Hollywood films. But the question always remained, could a true robot companion really exist in our lifetime? This is the question that Anki set out to answer with a resounding “yes,” as it looked to launch Cozmo, a small bot with a big brain and an even bigger personality in the US in Oct. 2016. Powered by advanced robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, Cozmo is one of the most sophisticated consumer robots available today. For example, Cozmo fits in the palm of your hand but has a brain that processes more data per second than all the Mars Rovers combined. He was built by a team of some of the best and most experienced people across a variety of disciplines that have never been brought together before including roboticists, animators, sound engineers, mechanical engineers, industrial designers, video game designers and developers, and many others.

The technical complexities that go into Cozmo include robotics and AI; computer vision and sensing; dynamic sound system; and, animatronics. Of note, Cozmo’s mischievous but charming personality and smarts, which sets him apart from other robots, are based on AI. His “emotion engine,” is a dynamic model, in which every input, experience, and interaction impact his next behaviors. Based on a player’s interaction with Cozmo and the environment, Cozmo’s AI will model his behavior or mood, which ranges from: happy, brave, frustrated, to excited, to name a few, or a combination of the moods. The AI in Cozmo include: behavior system for free play; memory map for mapping out his environment; vision system for recognizing people, pets and objects; action system for determining how he should act based on the perimeters set by the emotion engine; path planning; and, game AI system for playing games.

The physical design of Cozmo was led by automotive/product design veteran Harald Belker, known for his vehicle designs in films like “Batman & Robin,” “Minority Report,” and “Tron.” Working through over 40 uniquely different iterations of Cozmo robot in the development process, the final product was a tiny robot that contains more than 300 parts. Cozmo’s small stature was a conscious design choice as it allows him to move at a faster pace with more accuracy.

The vivid animations that Cozmo displays on his OLED screen to convey emotions was developed by an animation team led by a Pixar veteran, who previously developed characters for films like “Finding Nemo,” “Ratatouille,” and “Wall-E.” To ensure that Cozmo’s rounded blue eyes appear expressive, the animation team worked on developing hundreds of storyboards for possible animations, including waking, sneezing, laughing, whimpering. And not just for the eyes, but for Cozmo’s general movements as well, like spinning, rolling and lifting his interactive Power Cubes.

The technology that is required to bring Cozmo to life is powered by the free companion app for mobile devices (iOS, Android or Kindle Fire), which helps guide players as they interact with Cozmo. The decision to move much of the processing into the app was to ensure that we’ll be able to evolve Cozmo via timely free software updates. Lastly, the mobile device is also used to play Cozmo’s unique soundtrack, which helps establish his mood.

Pre-orders for Cozmo began in June. Bolstered by hundreds of positive stories about Cozmo’s larger-than-life personality and ability to build emotional resonance, the volume of pre-orders surpassed Anki’s expectations by more than three times. Cozmo subsequently launched to much critical acclaim in Oct., and Anki eventually sold out of the little bot three weeks before Christmas. As The Wall Street Journal opined: “Anki is taking toy robots to the next level, where they act, and even think, much more like their Hollywood counterparts.” According to The NPD Group, Cozmo was the #2 best-selling premium toy ($75+) for Oct. – Dec., and would eventually become the #1 best-selling premium toy for the 2016.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and benefits of the nominated product or service.

•Cozmo’s a gifted little bot with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out. He is completely self-aware—he can recognize you, read your emotions, and interpret his environment.
• AI allows Cozmo to express hundreds of emotions and to have contextual feelings based on your actions.
• Cozmo knows you—your name, your face, your quirks. He even remembers all the games you’ve played.
• The Cozmo app is packed full of content and is constantly introducing new ways to play. Cozmo even brings his own toys to the game—three Power Cubes
• At $179.99, Cozmo is one of the most sophisticated consumer robots available today, with a brain that processes more data per second than all the Mars Rovers combined.
• Cozmo provides entertaining interactions and an emotional connection that’s never been possible between human and robot. He is a pioneer for the idea of physical characters coming to life.