Wonder Workshop, the makers of Dash and Dot, announced two new products today: Cue and the Dot Creativity Kit.
I’ve been sent sample units to try out, but since it will take me a little while to put these new bots through their paces, I thought I’d share a little bit about what they are and how they work. I was able to interview Vikas Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Wonder Workshop, to get an idea of what’s new.
First off, we’ve written about Dash and Dot before here at GeekDad: Dave Banks introduced us to the robots, I wrote about the Wonder app for programming them and the Wonder League Competition, and Robin Brooks gave them a spin as well. Dash is a mobile robot that looks like four spheres smushed together, and Dot is a single sphere (with a removable base). Both have a light-up “face,” various sensors, and are programmable using an app on your phone or tablet.
Cue is an upgraded version of Dash, intended for the tween/teen crowd. For one, it has an updated look to it: Onyx is black with teal highlights, and Quartz is white with yellow highlights. The original Dash (in teal with orange highlights) looks a little more like a kid’s toy next to these. But it’s not just a face-lift—Cue has more memory, a better processor, and improved sensors. It also comes with an all-new app, designed with teens in mind.
The app has four primary functions: Chat, Code, Control, and Create.
The Chat portion is the one that’s particularly geared toward teens—once your phone is connected to Cue via Bluetooth, you can send “texts” to Cue, and it will react both in the real world and via texts. It allows users to talk to Cue and ask it questions about how to use it rather than reading an instruction manual, and there are also funny responses built in. Gupta said there are currently about 30,000 unique responses built-in, and more will be added through future updates. Cue will sing songs, use its front sensor to fist-bump you, and teach you how to use the app.
Control gives you a little dashboard where you can just play with the robot—drive it around, record sounds for it to play back, and use some pre-programmed behaviors to make it avoid obstacles or follow you around. It’s a bit like the original Go app for Dash and Dot, and can be used easily by younger kids. As you work through the missions, you will unlock various behaviors that can be tried out.
Create is a free-form sandbox mode that is akin to the Wonder app, where you can create programs using the various sensors. It’s a drag-and-drop programming environment that lets you use sensors to trigger various responses. There are just a couple of tutorials but mostly you can just play around with it.
The other new thing about Cue is that it comes with a personality—four personalities, in fact. (Well, five if you count the Jarvis-like voice that you get right out of the box.) When you first start up Cue, you’ll get a British voice greeting you, asking you to run through a few “diagnostics” that demonstrate some of Cue’s sensors, and eventually you’ll be asked to make a choice: choose one of the four personality avatars in the app. You can try demos of each before deciding, but then you have to pick. The first one you download is free, but the others will be $4.99 each if you want to switch later.
Charge is a more let’s-get-to-it personality. Zest is exuberant and likes to give compliments. Pep is eager and supportive. Smirk is snarky. Each avatar has its own repertoire of pre-recorded sounds and phrases.
Cue is available now for preorder from MakeWonder.com and Amazon for $199.99, with shipping starting in September 28. It will also be available at Apple stores, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Target. The Quartz (white) model will be available exclusively at Apple stores.
Stay tuned for a hands-on review of Cue later on!
Although Dot doesn’t have any mobility, it still has some impressive capabilities. It still has customizable lights on its face and two sides, and has various sensors: a microphone for detecting voices and claps, an accelerometer so it knows which direction is up and when it’s being picked up or shaken, and four programmable buttons.
The Dot Creativity Kit has a new green version of Dot, though what’s new in this case is primarily a new package with accessories and project cards. The creativity kit includes Dot, along with a sticker sheet, a lot of cardboard punchout accessories to dress up Dot, a squishy purple cover, and some extra accessories for turning Dot into a mood lamp or a die.
There are also 20 project cards. These are a bit like the tutorial levels in the Wonder app, but they’ve been made into big cards. You can make the Hot Dotato game, turn Dot into a sentry for your door, make rude noises when you push the buttons, and so on.
If you already have Dot, you don’t need this kit, but if you were new to Dot, this kit adds a lot of fun extras, and the project cards make it easier for kids to flip through them and decide what they might want to make next.
The Dot Creativity Kit is available now for preorder from MakeWonder.com and Amazon for $79.99, with shipping starting in September 28. It will also be available at Apple stores, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Target.
Disclosure: I received a Cue and Dot Creativity Kit for review purposes.
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