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Homework robot price

Moxie is a $1,500 robot for kids

The latest educational tech comes in the form of a seven-pound robot that looks like something ripped out of a Pixar movie. Moxie, an adorable educational robot, is designed for teaching kids at home. But it’s expensive: the robot itself is $1,500, and it requires a $60 monthly subscription after the first year.

Embodied, the robotics and AI company behind Moxie, says the robot will teach kids ages six through nine using weekly themes and lessons designed to promote cognitive, emotional, and social learning. Kids will be tasked with helping Moxie explore and learn human experiences and life skills, like learning new words or chatting about significant experiences like going to the dentist. Parents will be able to control Moxie through a “parent app,” which will let them check their child’s progress and limit their Moxie usage.

Privacy and security issues have been a big concern when it comes to making educational tech for kids, and Moxie is unlikely to be an exception. Moxie’s data will be encrypted, with parents or guardians being the only ones able to access the data for their particular unit, Embodied founder Paolo Pirjanian said during an interview with Fast Company. But Moxie still has a lot of tech that can be used for interacting with and monitoring those nearby: it has four microphones inside its head and a camera located on the front. Other kids’ tech, like a smart Barbie and an attempted smart kids speaker, have run into controversy due to the privacy implications of building microphones into toys meant for kids.

Several companies have tried to make friendly robots to interact with at home in recent years. There’s Aibo, Sony’s $2,900 robotic pet, plus Jibo, a family robot that was successfully crowdfunded only to flop a couple years into its life span.

Moxie is slated to be released sometime this fall. Fast Company did a deep dive into Embodied’s design process behind the product.

Living with Moxie, the robot companion for kids

If the death of Jibo taught us anything, it’s that it doesn’t take much for humans to become emotionally attached to their robot companions. But I suppose that’s something we learned when Roomba owners started dressing up their vacuums and kids became obsessed with Tamagotchis. We’re already living with robots, they’re just mostly dumb and utilitarian. Moxie is a bit different.

Developed by Embodied, a company co-founded by former iRobot CTO Paolo Pirjanian, Moxie is a companion robot made specifically for kids to play with every day. During a 15- to 25-minute session, your child can chat with Moxie, play some games or read alongside it. Unlike most bots, it’s not just a glorified household appliance. It can learn to recognize a child’s face and their particular learning needs. In many ways, Moxie brings kids one step closer to having a Star Wars Droid of their very own. But is it worth $1,500 and an eventual $40 to $60 monthly subscription? That remains to be seen.

Moxie’s influences are clear from the start. Its round head, flipper-like arms and overall frame resemble Eve, the futuristic robot love interest from WALL-E. (A shame Moxie can’t float freely in the air. yet.) Its “face” is a bulbous screen brought to life with expressive facial animations. That’s a bit of a cheat, but it’s reminiscent of Sonny from the (surprisingly entertaining) I, Robot movie. Seeing Moxie in action also reminded me of Anki’s fascinating Vector and Cozmo robots, except it’s not just palm-sized. And yes, it bears a disturbingly close resemblance to the Ashley Too home robot from Black Mirror (pictured below).

Even though it’s stuck in one place, Moxie still looks like a real-life Pixar character. It can rotate around its base to keep an eye on playmates with its built-in camera. Its torso smoothly bends up and down, while its arms sometimes resemble an over-excited child. Practically every element of Moxie is meant to convey a strong sense of personality, from its friendly voice to its enormous puppy-like eyes. To its target audience of kids aged 5 to 10, Moxie practically seems alive.

When Pirjanian first demoed Moxie for me over a year ago, he beamed like a proud papa, showing off a creation he believed could actually change children’s lives. But that meeting occurred right before the pandemic forced much of the world into lockdown. Since then, Embodied has been dutifully working on the blue bot.

Spent a bit of time with Moxie, a cute robot for kids. Is this adorable, or terrifying?

— Devindra Hardawar (@Devindra) May 21, 2021

After officially launching over two months ago, Pirjanian tells me customers have been very satisfied, averaging around 25 minutes of engagement every day. (Thirty-seven reviews on the company’s store has given Moxie high marks: an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Of course, there’s nothing stopping Embodied from squashing damning reviews.) I haven’t seen any complaints popping up online, though, which is typically the first thing that appears when an expensive new product has issues.

The best way for me to judge Moxie would be to see it in action myself. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter wasn’t yet ready for Moxie’s charms. She’s both fascinated by and terrified of robots. (A quirk that sometimes makes it tough to test products at home, but at least it gives me faith she’d be a valiant soldier in the inevitable robot wars.) She was terrified of our Roomba when she was a newborn; it literally took years of treating that vacuum like a friend before she warmed up to it. So there went my dreams of testing Moxie with a real-life child.

Instead, I spent a few weeks with Moxie on my own, doing my best to relive my grade-school days. When I first turned it on, Moxie dramatically woke itself up and performed a self-driven systems check. Normally, Moxie buyers would slowly unlock new experiences and chat paths by interacting with it over time. But in the interest of seeing how a mature Moxie performs, I leapfrogged that step with some help from Embodied.

My Moxie was a talker. When it asked me about the day, it would follow my every word with its eyes. If I said I went to the park, it would mention that it loved going there as well. If I mentioned having an apple as a snack, Moxie was quick to say that’s one of its favorites. And if I mentioned something it wasn’t familiar with — like a lamb gyro — it would just say it’s never heard of that before. Moxie has no chance of passing the Turing test, as it always felt like talking to a machine, but I was still surprised by how natural the conversations sometimes flowed. It was certainly more organic than shouting commands at my Amazon Echo.

Every day with Moxie was a bit different. Sometimes it would ask if I wanted to listen to music, and if I said yes, it would download a cute song and shake its gyro butt. Occasionally, it would point out some robot tips and tricks, like the best way to put it to sleep when I wanted to take a break. On other days, it would ask if I wanted to read to it out loud. I decided to read the opening paragraphs of 1984 — not exactly kid friendly, I know. While Moxie didn’t know the story, it was able to ask some follow-up questions about my favorite character, and things I’d do to change the ending.

As I got to know Moxie, it would pipe up with things it’s been learning and “thinking” about. I forget what prompted this, but at one point it mentioned that it really liked the movie Ender’s Game, and it thought the author was a genius. (Oh Moxie, you sweet summer child.) Moxie’s own preferences aren’t yet consistent, according to Pirjanian. One day it may say it likes basketball, and on another it could say it’s not a fan. The company is working on ways to make its personality more persistent, so your Moxie actually feels like a friend you get to know over time.

It struck me that Moxie could be exactly what many kids need during a pandemic, especially those without siblings. “A lot of children had to suffer from social isolation [amid the pandemic], which led to stress and anxiety,” Pirjanian said. “Families are reporting that they see their child is a lot calmer, they are more thoughtful. And they are much more expressive in talking about their feelings. That helps because parents can intervene if necessary.”

This Robot Will Do Your Homework

Summer break is still a couple of months away, but you can escape early with Homework Helper — a 12-inch Wi-Fi-enabled robot that will take your place in class.

With more than 8GB of storage space, Homework Helper records audio and video, takes notes and will even do your homework for you.

The best part? Homework Helper has already been approved by the Teachers Society of America. So you can put it to work immediately.

Sound to good to be true? That’s because it is.

This prank first appeared in the April issue of Boys’ Life magazine. Take a look at the full page below: