Anki, the AI and robotics firm best known in the game industry for integrating physical toys with mobile games, is launching a new robot toy, Cozmo, designed to play games with kids and develop a personality over time.
Cozmo's release in October is worth noting because he's explicitly designed to play simple games with kids, using either a smartphone or a set of physical objects -- and react as a human opponent might.
Moreover, the way Anki builds games and game-like experiences at the intersection of physical and digital design is a point of perennial interest for some game developers, as it showcases how game development skills like character design (Cozmo's reactions are modeled in Maya) and AI programming can be applied to breathe life into physical toys.
"He can detect different people and remember who he's met," Anki cofounder Boris Sofman recently told TechCrunch, noting that Cozmo is intended to build relationships with people and get better at playing games over time. "If you play with him every single day, he's going to be much more interactive and happy to see you."
After Cozmo launches this October, The Next Web reports that Anki intends to open up its AI SDK to developers so they can create their own games and other applications for the toy.
For more insight into how Anki infuses its physical toys with traditional game design principles, check out this 2014 chat Gamasutra had with former Anki CCO (and before that, Activision VP) Joby Otero.