Robot Successes

<p>Over the last fifteen years, owning a robot has gone from pricey and inconvenient to affordable and fun. Consumer robots have taken over the toy industry, evolving into interactive and sympathetic characters that appeal to children and adults alike. Here, we present seven consumer robots that have stolen our hearts. </p>

The original

<p>Who can forget Furby, the first real success in the consumer robot world? A modern-day <a href=http://furby.com>Furby</a> speaks only furbish and is unintelligible, but the toy "learns" language as the consumer plays with it. Able to move, sing and speak, the Furby proved incredibly successful, and in the toy's first year of production, Tiger Electronics sold nearly 2 million. Since Furby's introduction in 1998, Tiger Electronics (1998-2001) and Hasbro (2005-present) have continued to improve the toy. A brand new version is on the shelves for the 2012 holiday season.</p>

The new LEGO

<p>Beginning in 1998, LEGO has produced <a href=http://mindstorms.lego.com/en-us/Default.aspx>LEGO Mindstorms</a>, one of the first commercial robots to appeal to a wider audience, from children to hobbyists. A set of robot building-blocks allows users to create their own robots, using simple and intuitive hardware. Since 1998, Mindstorms has continued to innovate with the product, creating a new version in 2006 that once again broke ground in the consumer robotics field.</p>

Man’s new best friend

<p>Aibo, a robotic dog created by Sony in 1999, was hugely popular and gained an ardent following. Aibo was a robot that consumers could relate to, as it responded to commands and movements, spoke, played music and took photos. Because Aibo appealed to both robot enthusiasts and dog lovers, it had instant mass appeal. But in 2006, as part of cost-cutting efforts, Sony discontinued the beloved robo-dog.</p>

Cleaning floors since 2001

<p>Roomba, sold by iRobot, is the most successful "solve-a-problem" robot to date. Programmed to interact with and adapt to environments, <a href=http://store.irobot.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2501652&s=A-ProductAge>Roomba</a> can recognize corners, walls and other obstacles. The robot provided the service of thoroughly cleaning consumers’ floors — removing pet hair, cleaning rugs and moving under furniture — with the simple press of a button.</p>

Robot rock star

<p>Robosapien took the consumer robotics field by storm when it was introduced in 2003. This walking, talking <a href=http://www.wowwee.com/en/products/toys/robots/robotics/robosapiens:robosapien>humanoid robot</a> was the first of many created by the Hong Kong toy manufacturer WowWee. The toy benefitted in large part from its universal hackability, allowing consumers to modify and personalize the robot, something that many of today’s robot creators strive for.</p>

Dancing its way to fame

<p>When a video of dancing, yellow Keepon robots was uploaded in 2007, the robot became a sensation. <a href=http://keepon.com>Keepon</a>, with its ultra-simple appearance, yet dynamic and endearing behavior, was initially developed to study social development and autism. But the sheer cuteness of the toy gave it mass appeal. Primarily, this is a dancing robot, but it also responds to touch, with surprisingly emotional reactions.</p>

The ball of the future

<p>Who knew a ball could be so much fun? Certainly, balls have been favorite toys since the beginning, but in 2011 Orbotix took things to a new level. The first robotic ball controllable from a smartphone or tablet, <a href=http://gosphero.com>Sphero</a> is made for a mass audience. Its simple design and controls allow widespread accessibility, and its easy hackability allows for an ever-growing list of new apps.</p>

7 Robots That Succeeded in Everyday Life