Desk Pets International Limited has launched a special edition TankBot that allows them to be controlled by your smartphone. To the uninitiated, a TankBot is a tank-like robot that has been infused with a dollop of artificial intelligence that allows it to navigate without bumping into obstacles. For the technically inclined, this is achieved through what are known as obstacle avoiding algorithms. These are toys for kids, not some new equipment for the army. In fact, the special edition TankBot has even won Popular Science’s “Best of Toy Fair” 2011 award.
The TankBots can operate in three interactive modes. You can choose to let the bot roam around freely, navigate through mazes or be controlled by your smartphone. Given that iOS and Android are the most popular mobile operating systems, it’s not surprising that the TankBot can only be controlled by an Apple or Android phone.
The “special edition” refers to the “battle mode” that allows you to shoot imaginary infra-red shells at other TankBots. When a bot is “shot” enough times to warrant it to be declared defeated, it is temporarily disabled.
These special edition TankBots are available only at Brookstone stores. Each special edition TankBot is priced at $25. To take advantage of the battle mode, you will need to get your kid at least two TankBots. And if he doesn’t already have a smartphone, you’ll have to get him one, won’t you? I wonder if these are guerrilla marketing tactics by mobile phone manufacturers? Don’t worry, I am just hallucinating.