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DESIGN & STYLE

Meet Little Robot Friends, Tamagotchi for the 21st Century

Baby robots become your best friend by responding to light, sound and touch

By Shirin Borthwick
September 19, 2013
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By Shirin Borthwick
September 19, 2013
  shares

A lighthearted tech agency, Aesthetec, is resurrecting the general concept of Tamagotchi — albeit updated for the 21st century — in the form of Little Robot Friends. That's right, soon the black pit of loneliness and despair occupying the centre of your existence could be filled by an 8-bit 32K Arduino-compatible microcontroller with eyes. The Kickstarter campaign for this magical initiative has been so popular, it's already far overshot its goal and is gaining more pledges as I type.

Aesthetec has already created plenty of cute and pretty things, like their glowing, interactive SMILE cubes that have lit up both exhibitions and parties. What's so good about these new miniature robots Aesthetec have been developing for over a year? The little tykes respond to light, sound and touch, and even have programmable personalities, allowing their owners to get some early tech education. The ostensibly simple construction of each robot actually features touch-sensitive hair, RGB LED eyes, a sensor for ambient light, microcontroller, MEMs microphone and lrDA tranceiver.

Watch the video below and you'll hear the cute noises they make when spoken to. Apparently their behaviour changes as well, depending on how you treat them — bringing back vivid memories of your plaintive Tamagotchi whining in the next room when you hadn't fed it for a whole day. These guys don't seem to complain, thankfully, but it's likely that with more development (and the inevitable sharing of new programming ideas as they enter the market), all manner of human-like personality traits will emerge, some good, some bad.

As Aesthetec say on their website: "We know that most adults are really just kids in a grown up body. Everybody loves to play with blinking lights and musical toys. We create custom projects for events as well as bringing existing projects for temporary installations. Our projects are designed to inspire and bring out the smiles."

Published on September 19, 2013 by Shirin Borthwick

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