Sony's made some endearingly offbeat electronic toys over the years -- looking at you people who gave your Aibos funerals. The company's newest addition to its crowdfunding site, First Flight, is likely to evoke the same response. Say hello to the Toio cube.
These gadgets measure about 1.25-inches along their sides and about .75-inches tall. Their undersides house a pair of wheels while the nubbly bit on top are compatible with Lego blocks, enabling you to install costumes and structures to the Toios.
They're reminiscent of the Anki Cozmo, however unlike that desktop robot, these little guys don't rely on an internal AI. Instead, the Toios are equipped with bluetooth receivers that enable them to talk to each other as well as receive commands from a remote console. That console issues its commands based on whatever cartridge with the preprogrammed operations you plug into it. The system also comes with a number of patterned paper designs that you cut out and attach to the Toios which both add to the visual effect and help control the robots, as you can see in the video below.
The Toios also come with a special optically-patterned mat which allows their visual sensors to navigate the play area, not unlike the Ozobot, though you can also take control of the robots' movements directly with one of a pair of controllers that plug into the console.
The various games and functions (and papercraft requirements) vary from the most basic up to highly complex designs which means that even if your kid gets bored with it after 5 minutes, you can keep playing. The Toio set runs for 30,000 yen -- that's roughly $275 US. There's no word yet on whether Sony will release additional cartridges or will allow users to program their own.