The Most Popular Holiday Toys since 1981

robot toys

Here's another interesting, and memory provoking, infographic showing the most popular holiday toys that have come down the chimney with Santa over the past 30 years. It's a bit surprising how many of them have something to do with robots in one form or another.

How many do you recall, and how many did you own and play with personally? In my case, I had 8 of them, and still have most of the 8.

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Now Everyone Can Have a “My Keepon” Robot (Video)

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The original Keepon robot, developed by Hideki Kozima at Miyagi University in Japan, was incredibly cute and engaging, to the point that people just couldn't help smiling, laughing, and moving in sync while the robot danced to music or used it's built-in sensors to interact realistically with them.

The Keepon design concept was intended to explore the possibility that a simple emotive robot could help autistic children with communication and learning challenges. Most autistic children tend to be completely overwhelmed by the volume of input and sensory data involved in even the most basic social interactions. It's kind of like trying to take a drink of water from a fire hose. Kozima's insight, which turned out to be right on the money, was to reduce the flood of inputs to a minimum while packaging the robot in an appealing, friendly body.

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Toys ‘R’ Us and Walgreens Bet on Robots to Fight Amazon

Robots, more specifically distribution center robotics and automation have become the major competitive weapon in the escalating battle for retail customers.

It's stacking up to be a fight to the death with traditional brick and mortar chains struggling to catch up with online giants like Amazon. The big challenge may turn out to be that they are playing a catch-up game, one where Amazon has already paid it's dues and accumulated years, if not decades of know-how and experience.

"Walgreen Co. and Toys “R” Us Inc. are among the chains rushing to open distribution centers, revamp websites and integrate their stores more seamlessly into their online operations. Amazon, meanwhile, plans to open 15 distribution centers this year. “Many brick-and-mortar retailers have had their ‘a-ha' moment as Amazon continues to grow and the Internet is getting more viable,” said Mick Mountz, chief executive officer of Kiva Systems Inc., which has seen orders surge this year for the warehouse robots it sells to retailers. Last month Toys ‘R' Us opened a warehouse near Reno, Nevada, equipped with the Roomba- like critters, which shorten order turn-around time."

Toys ‘R' Us Deploys Robots as Retailers Seek to Catch Amazon - BusinessWeek
http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LOAEK41A74E901-5R8QTF0JQ7QTQ4LIHNGLOLDLRC

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RoboDance Fundraiser Hot Domain Auction

robosapien robot dance

Software development isn't cheap, and it's particularly difficult if you happen to be a sole developer committed to supporting and enhancing a popular open source software project out of your own pocket.

For years Robert Oschler has contributed to the robot community in many ways, including freely sharing his knowledge and expertise, creating hilariously entertaining robot videos and unique new robot songs, in addition to developing the RoboDance project that enables users to control a wide range of robots from their PC or other devices. He's even gone to the extreme of adding voice recognition capability and Skype functionality to the open source system.

While his dedication and commitment to the project have brought him some level of recognition and fame, like being featured in the New York TImes, it hasn't attracted funding to underwrite the project. As a result, he's putting several very attractive internet domains on the auction block, including potentially strong SEO ranking properties like AndroidBlogs.com, AndroidJob.com, WomanBlogger.com, and WomanWorker.com.

It's a great chance for the right person to pickup a hot, highly relevant, domain at bargain pricing, while helping out the robot community in the process.

(Via RoboDance fundraiser.)

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Mega Hobby Robot Event Coming Up

hobby robot event

It's been a long, hot, and extremely humid summer here in Japan. The weather, the economy, and the general mood has been depressed and languid to say the least. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the plans for regular robot competitions, like ROBO-ONE, had to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely after the triple disasters (earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear) that took place on March 11th.

All of that is about to change big time, and all the pent-up robot energy and enthusiasum is going to explode on the scene over the next few weeks in a frenzy of exciting competitions with a new mega robot battle double-header that promises to totally blow away all standing records.

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Australian Robot Shop Creates Simple Hexapod for Education Expo (Video)

cheap hexapod robot desgin

Without exception every robot distributor that we've had the pleasure of talking to over the years has expressed a strong commitment to school education and encouraging young people to get involved with science, technology, and robotics. Most of them have special programs, educational discounts, or actively participate in school events donating their time and effort to the cause.

A good example is Michael Gruber with the RoboteShop located in Australia. There's a major School Education Expo coming up in Sydney next month, so the company decided to design a very simple, low cost hexapod robot to dramatically get the message across that robot education doesn't have to be expensive. It can be accomplished with parts and tools as basic as ice-cream sticks, a glue gun, and a few items 'borrowed' from an off the shelf kit.

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Disk Shooting Robot on Kids Woot

kids woot robot toy

I'm not connected with Woot, and I can't even order any of their daily special offers because I live outside the country and the shipping costs would be more than the cost of the time. Still, it's fun to watch what they put on offer, especially since the prices are always rock bottom.

For some strange, unknown reason, several of their recent one day sales special offers have been robots. Today their offer is a "Robokid Programmable Disk Shooting RC Robot". Looks pretty cool, at least from the small photo on the kids.woot website.

If you do happen to pick one up within the 24 hour sale period, please let me know what you think and how it performs.

(Via Kids.Woot® : One Day, You'll Understand™.)

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It’s A Bug-Eat-Bug Robot Business World Out There (Video)

robot insects

The basic concept is simple enough and has been around for years, perhaps decades. Mount a button battery and tiny pager/cellphone vibrator motor on the back of a cut off toothbrush head and you have a cute robot insect that will scramble around providing hours of amusement and entertainment.

Innovation First took the concept to another level, refining the design and adding a lot of character and personality to the robots creating their wildly popular Hexbug line of robotic toys. While the issue of whether or not the Hexbug robots actually inspire kids to get into engineering and science career paths, the toys are pervasive and seem to be on toy and electronic shop shelves everywhere.

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Top-selling Robot Monkey Hits US Store Shelves and Hearts (Video)

monkey robot

RoboGames champion Nick Donaldson seems to live, eat, sleep, and breathe robots. He consistently wins a raft of medals across a wide range of different categories during the annual robot gathering, and has designed all types of robots including LEGOs, multi-legged rescue bots, and even a few that might be difficult to categorize. Now, thanks to almost 10 years of hard work, dedication, and a little luck, it looks like one of Donaldson's cutest robot creations, a robot monkey, just might become the hottest selling robot toy in the US this Christmas.

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