My Keepon is possibly the cutest little robot we have seen. It is a toy that was created in the likeness of its robotic brother, Keepon Pro. The original Keepon is designed by Dr. Hideki Kozima and Dr. Marek Michalowski. Its purpose is engage children with autism during therapeutic play and research.
The creators placed a video on youtube that showed the fuzzy guy dancing along to Spoon’s “I Turn My Camera On” and it went viral with millions of views.
They knew that they had a hit on their hands and began working with Wow! Stuff to produce a version for the consumer market. This is the same group that brought us Air Swimmer Shark and Clownfish.
The little robot has two modes, one for music and one for touch. There is a microphone in its nose so it can pick up sound which will start it moving to the beat. It also has sensors at different points in its body so it will respond to taps and belly pokes. Its texture is a form of squishy rubber that makes it fun to touch. It is a toy created for 6 year olds and older, but kids of every age will find him charming.
Things to consider:
1. Setting Expectations - This is not by any means the $30,000 robot. It is a toy that was created because of the huge interest that the Youtube video generated. It will not move and interact to the level that the Keepon Pro will. The original robot can be controlled and moved by a counselor or researcher allowing it to be very responsive to a child they are working with.
2. Batteries – My Keepon requires 8 AA batteries which are not included in the purchase. There is a port for a 12V power supply cord which may be worth purchasing. Taking care to thread the attached ribbon around the batteries will be important for easy removal later.
3. Price – MSRP is $50. That seems high for the quality and functionality. Toys R Us has reduced its initial price to $39.99. Other retailers will most likely follow suit.
4. Dancing – The robot will dance for a few seconds then stop to “listen” for the beat. He may even take awhile to pick up the beat before he starts bobbing up and down. This is normal, but you will find you wishing it didn’t do this.
5. Youtube videos – The majority of the videos are filmed using Keepon Pro, not the retail version. Again, this speaks to setting expectations.
6. Noise – The motor is loud and may be annoying to some buyers. Keeping the music level up can mask it.
We are on the fence about whether to recommend this toy. There are some drawbacks that definitely give us pause. We do like that a portion of sales will go towards building and distributing more Keepon Pros to schools and facilities working with children with autism. Understanding what to expect will definitely reduce disappointment.
Watch a video of the actual toy in use to get a good idea on how My Keepon works and responds to music and touch: