That’s it then, right? There’s officially nothing an iPhone can’t do. Okay, I can think of a few things—it can’t shovel out my car after the weekend storm, even though I could use it to buy a snowshovel and hire manual labor—but it’s getting tougher and tougher to think of tasks that smartphones can’t handle, which is why I won’t get one. This latest innovation, however, makes it more tempting than ever. Who wouldn’t want to turn their iPhone into a smiling, mobile robot?
Romotive has created the unfortunately named Romo to help transform your iPhone into a robotic device that promotes learning and delivers entertainment. It may be a bit tougher to play with Romo while using the bathroom or in a business meeting, though—at least without attracting a few bemused looks. The Romotive CEO says that back in the day, it seemed “impossible that you would have something that weighed 500 grams that sits in your pocket that has all of the world’s information.” So they made something that has all that information but can zoom around like a mini-tank outside of your pocket.
Romo is essentially a dock for the iPhone that rolls around on tracks. There’s an app that provides power, including facial recognition and tracking, photo and video capabilities, and remote control functioning. The app also allows users to teach Romo via programming or writing new apps. While I don’t necessarily think it’s a great idea to combine iPhones and childhood (yes, I’m an old geezer who didn’t get her first cell phone until after college, but I’m also an old geezer who fondly remembers playing outside as a child), I have to admit that giving younger folks a platform to practicing programming and writing apps will probably serve them quite well in the future. And instead of programming in some basement on a computer, being able to develop those skills while using something that turns a small computer into a toy would probably be a lot more gratifying.
Romotive is the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised almost four times more than its goal back in November 2011. It also received millions more in financial backing from other companies. Romotive has sold roughly 10,000 units since then, and the latest Romo iteration retails for $149. Widespread production and distribution plans are in the works, so don’t be surprised if you see some of these ‘bots rolling around sporting that goofy snaggle-toothed grin.