While this is certainly not the fist robot dog, most others were played with for a few days and left to gather dust in a closet or toy box.
Recently there have been some real advances in robotics and artificial intelligence resulting in the development of robotic toys that just might live up to their claims.
CHiP is a lovable robot puppy to which, despite your best efforts, you will actually grow and emotional attachment. He might not replace a real life pet but he is a cute interactive toy that yours kids will really enjoy.
Wowee recommends this robotic dog for 6 – 15 year olds. It will also appeal to older kids and adults who are interested in robotics and AI. Younger kids are sure to love it as well but, while it is sturdy, younger kids should probably be supervised.
If you remember all those clunky robotic dogs of the past on legs that could hardly move, then you will love that CHiP moves around on wheels. The special wheels and multiple sensors let CHiP move with speed, agility and multi direction so he can follow you around easily and play games with his ball.
CHiP’s SmartBed is his ‘den’ and is where he goes to sleep and, when his battery is low, will return to his bed to recharge automatically.
CHiP comes with a SmartBall that you can train him to fetch. You can roll it and CHiP can bring it back to you or you can play soccer with him. This is a great way of utilizing a tech toy to keep your children active.
To control CHiP you need to use the SmartBand and he will recognize you and no one else as his master. There are lots of interactive functions and actions that can be carried out between you, CHiP using the SmartBand.
As with a real dog, you can reward CHiP for good behavior and he will know what you like or don’t like. This ability to learn makes him unique to each owner. Like a real dog you can train CHiP to come to heel or stay. You can even get him to attack people that are annoying you, luckily he doesn’t bite!
The app that is available does give you some more instructions and allows you to control CHiP’s movements, somewhat like a remote control car.
CHiP will constantly be updated to provide a better user experience with more features and improvements as time goes on.
He comes with a 90 day warranty.
CHiP is an indoor robotic dog so if you planned on taking him for walks around the neighborhood this might be a bit of a disappointment.
Voice recognition is spotty and it seems lower pitched voices work better. Some children have not been able to get him to respond at all.
Instructions are really poor but there are online videos (not from WowWee) on Youtube that can help you figure out how to use him.
He does not ‘see’ all that well and tends to bump into things a lot, at least in some homes.
Limited in what he can do and if you use the app to control him, he seems to lose his ability to sense his surroundings and will run into things at full speed.
So, as I write this it is 2 days after the official release and there are 8 reviews now on Amazon giving CHIP 3.8 stars out of 5. Note that all the reviews are by people who got the toy at a discount for review purposes. That does not negate the reviews, but let’s wait for a few more ‘real’ customers.
Now it is 8 days after release, there are 24 reviews and the rating remains the same – 3.8/5 stars.
There are three main issues (mentioned in the Cons above) in the customer reviews:
The instructions are quite poor. There are wheel guards that they say must be installed before using but those instructions are lost at the back of the pack of instruction sheets. They seem to be to protect the wheels when used in carpet.
The voice recognition definitely prefers a deeper voice and may prove very frustrating for some children.
You kids may get bored quickly as the tricks he can perform are limited.
Value for Money?
Two hundred dollars is a fair amount to pay out for a toy. At the moment, it is a bit limited in ability. Hopefully, his commands will be constantly updated through its app with more features.
If you cannot have a pet and your kids really want one, this might just do the trick.
NOTE: If you have difficulty using CHiP, there are some good videos on Youtube. The following unboxing video is very helpful.
Most large retailers have received some stock as have the online stores such as Amazon
While we still haven’t managed to replace a real life dog with a robotic version, this is certainly a step closer. As interactive AI toys go this is in a brand new league.