With all kids staying home, parents are running out of ideas to keep them occupied and most importantly, emotionally healthy during these crazy times. Some are lucky to have siblings or a pet, but there are many kids out there without a companion that is not working from home. Fuseproject has designed a brilliantly adorable robot, Moxie, who is going to be your child’s new best friend! Trust me, parents are going to love this one (hint: homeschooling feature) and even though I am not a parent or a child, I really would like to have Moxie too so it doesn’t get too lonely in quarantine.
Moxie was born to give children (between the ages 6 and 9) an emotionally aware pal who also came equipped with teaching capabilities – a dream come true and even more so given the current times. Technology and design are proving to be the saving grace for not only essential workers but also for everyone staying home. Fuseproject is taking this opportunity to create positive human-machine interaction for the next generation. “Moxie, a revolutionary animate companion designed in partnership with Embodied, Inc. that promotes social, emotional, and cognitive learning for children across the ability spectrum—from neurotypical to neurodivergent—through play-based learning and interaction,” says the team. It is built to be so smart that children can even whisper secrets to communicate with Moxie through the teardrop-shaped ears and microphone on either side of its head – one of its most distinctive physical traits that encourages a meaningful bond. The Pixar-ish robot has an all-star group of AI investors like Amazon, Intel, Sony, and Toyota including Chief Creative Officer Craig Allen previously worked at Jim Henson and Disney.
The $1,500 price tag comes with the skills of experts in child development, engineering, technology, game design, entertainment, and designers who poured in their best to create Moxie. This resulted in immaculate features like facial expression, overall shape, color palette, and exterior materiality to encourage prolonged interest and optimize fluid social interaction. The team focused on balancing the details to inspire engagement and make sure children resonated with the robot. “All its expressive and endearing features—including the ears, head/playful projection tip, speakers, and arm/hand/finger details—come together to tell an otherworldly story about Moxie as a friendly companion from The Global Robotics Laboratory (G.R.L.) sent out as a robot ambassador with a mission to learn what it means to be a good friend to humans,” elaborates the team on why they chose the forms and functions they did for the robot. The expressions truly are so cute it almost looks like a cross between a robot and an elf!
Moxie radiates a playful persona with a positive character, unlike most AI robots we’ve seen so far. Children will learn and safely practice essential life skills such as turn-taking, eye contact, active listening, emotion regulation, empathy, relationship management, and problem-solving. Sure, parents can teach that too – but is a child more likely to listen to parents instructing them or through a smart ‘toy’? Children are always curious about the world around them, now more than ever they have more questions about it. Moxie steps into the picture to help them comprehend the marvels of technology at their level of understanding. Will Moxie be the robot that changes how we feel about their kind?