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My Keepon robotic toy will keep on entertaining you

By Damir Beciri
7 Comments18 September 2011

my-keepon-toy-robotInitially introduced in 2007 through a popular online video, the adorable Keepon robot stood out from the rest of the robots available in that time. Its simple appearance and dynamic behavior have been equally embraced by young and old. However, it was originally developed for use in playrooms to study autism and social development and its $30,000 price tag kept it away from wider audience.

Keepon was developed by Dr. Hideki Kozima while at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Kyoto, Japan. The robot can be controlled by a teleoperator and it is used to interact with children in schools and remedial centers for developmental disorders since 2003. Its simple appearance and behavior are suitable to aid the children with developmental disorders such as autism, to understand its attentive and emotive actions.

Dr. Marek Michalowski have been developing and using Keepon robot in the USA since 2007 and used it to explore the properties and importance of rhythmic movement in general social interaction. The movement on that platform is controlled by a rhythm-based software system. Environmental rhythms can be extracted from auditory or visual sensory stimuli, and the robot synchronizes its movement to a dominant rhythm. Bellow is the video in which Keepon robot dances to “I Turn My Camera On” song by indie rock band Spoon.

“To answer the thousands of fans who have asked for their very own Keepon, we have teamed up with toy innovators Wow! Stuff to create My Keepon, a lifelike robotic toy packed with personality, who can live in anyone’s home”, said Dr. Michalowski of BeatBots.

Just as the original version, most of it parts are located in its “performance stage”. This stage contains most of the robotic mechanism, so My Keepon himself can be soft and squishy to your touch. It has a touch mode and dance mode which are activated by two buttons located at the front of its platform.

When it is in dancing mode, a sensitive microphone in its nose allows it to hear the music you play (or the rhythms you make yourself) and dance to it. My Keepon listens for the tempo of the music and matches the beat with an uncanny sense of timing. Powerful on-board sound processing and sophisticated mathematical algorithms enable it to a variety of music ranging from slow ballads, to pop music, to high-energy disco. Each performance is an original and unique interpretation.

Array of touch sensors is hidden beneath the textured skin of My Keepon’s body. These sensors are located all around the body and on its head. My Keepon responds to poking, patting, squeezing or tickling by looking around, showing its mood and making expressive sounds.

My Keepon is powered by 8 x 1.5V AA batteries, providing enough juice for him to dance to around 100 songs on the move. There is also a socket for an optional plug-in power adapter (12V, 1.5A, 3.5 mm diameter plug) if you want to use My Keepon in one place for a longer time.

As soon as it is active, My Keepon wants to play, and will try to attract your attention. Squeeze, tickle or pat My Keepon and the touch sensors will make him react in different ways. My Keepon has his own non-verbal language, which he uses to express himself or try to grab your attention.

My Keepon will be available throughout the US, UK and Europe from October 2011 and you can preorder it at the price of $50. A portion of every My Keepon purchase will be used to expand the Keepon Pro family of research robots, which will be distributed to researchers and practitioners investigating the use of robots in autism therapy. It is appropriate for children ages 6 and up, but we believe it will find its place on many desks belonging to older crowd. Yes, I am looking at you!

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7 Comments — Leave your response!

  • Avatar
    robot builder

    I remember this robot from a while back, and I bet my kids are going to like it!

    Do they come in other colors? How about accessories?

  • Avatar

    I can’t believe it’s now less than a month before I finally get a My Keepon all of my own! Have to say I’m a little disappointed that it’s not quite as interactive as the real thing with all it’s clever camera trickery, but for £40 it’s still pretty impressive for what it can do.

    Havr you managed to play with one in reality yet Damir?

  • Avatar
    Damir Beciri

    Still waiting for it to arrive, must be the customs.

  • Avatar

    We have the Keepon but can’t find anyone selling the 1.5Amp 12Volt 1.5mm power adapter. Don’t want to spend a fortune on batteries. Does anyone know where I can buy the adapter?

  • Avatar
    Damir Beciri

    If you can’t find one at the electronics part of your local supermarket, try Amazon, I’m sure they have those.

    Sorry for the late reply.

  • Avatar

    Does it come in different colors?

  • Avatar
    Damir Beciri

    You can read about efforts from Keepon fans to customize it here, but it is currently available only in yellow color.

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