I first came across Romo the smartphone robot at a science fair in San Francisco – he was surrounded by a crowd of enthusiastic, giggling children. They were learning to program him to follow colored balls and react to faces. It was obvious that the kids loved him so I was excited to get the opportunity to try out Romo for myself.
Romo uses your iPhone in combination with a base unit and a free app. The Romo base comes in 2 versions: a 30-pin version for the iPhone 4/4S/ iPod Touch 4th generation; and a lightning version for the iPhone 5/5s/5c/iPod Touch 5th generation. I tested the lightning version with an iPhone5.
First you need to install the Romo – Romotive, Inc app on your iPhone, then plug your iPhone/ iPod Touch into Romo’s base, launch the app and begin. I found Romo docked best if I removed my iPhone case.
Romo is a robot with a story, and a mission. He has just crash landed on earth and needs your help to explore, and to train to compete against the best robots in the Universe in the Robot Space Race. There are a series of missions where you train Romo to do different things, once he (and you) have mastered each skill that skill is unlocked in “The Lab”. The Lab is where you can play with Romo using any of the skills you have unlocked. Romo starts out by learning the basics- how to control his wheels. He learns how to go forward, backward, follow a square or a triangular path and how to vary his speed and distance travelled. From there he learns more advanced skills such as following a color or reacting to seeing a face. you also learn how to get him to do fun things like dance, nod yes or shake no. Finally you teach him how to follow a line so he can compete in the race., then you get to race him! There is also a free Romo Control app that allows you to drive Romo from another iPhone or iPad on the same Wifi network, or to call him from another location to drive him and use his video camera.
The thing I love about Romo is he isn’t just a toy that come with instructions on how to do his various actions right out of the box, instead he is a real learning tool that teaches children, and adults, the basic steps of programming whilst they play. When Romo comes out of the box he can’t do much – you need to train him to do all of his actions and reactions, and in doing so you learn how to program him to do those things. Learning to program Romo is a step-by-step procedure and you can’t just skip ahead but need to complete a section to move on to the next “world”, which means you really learn how to use him rather than just glossing over a set of instructions. Once you have unlocked them each of Romo’s actions is represented by a box with a description of the action, you can build complex sequences by setting up “if X do ABCD” type sequences. It is easy to change his reaction by duplicating, moving or removing actions in the sequence or by adding new actions or stimuli.
My kids love Romo- they get really excited whenever he comes out to play and they just love teaching him new actions and creating new sequences. I originally thought just my 10 year-old would be programming him, but my six-year-old twins love him too. The six-year-olds’ reading skills aren’t strong enough to program Romo by themselves but it has been fascinating to watch their big brother helping them to program him and teaching them the new skills he has acquired from playing with Romo.
The developers of Romo have been good so far about frequently updating the Romo app to give Romo new skills and missions- I hope they continue to do so as I think this will really be useful in keeping him interesting and engaging in the long term if new missions are added periodically.
Romo is a really fun robot toy for children and adults alike, he is well-built, funny, interactive with lots of personality! I love that he teaches the basic concepts of programming whilst having fun. My kids adore him!
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.