Day 1 impressions of Anki Vector
I was hooked to Anki when Tim Cook launched the 2013 WWDC with a demo of Anki Drive. My wife gifted me Anki Drive on the first day it was…
I was hooked to Anki when Tim Cook launched the 2013 WWDC with a demo of Anki Drive. My wife gifted me Anki Drive on the first day it was launched. I still remember the day when I unboxed Anki Drive to play the iPhone controlled robotic cars against other opponents. Over the years, I became a prominent member of the Anki Beta program, and had access to app updates pre launch. Over the years, Anki launched OverDrive and then Cozmo. I was late to the Cozmo party, but got a chance, when Anki offered me a free Cozmo in 2017 to beta test Cozmo Codelab (A scratch based module to program Cozmo from within the Cozmo App).
I made the most of the Cozmo, making over 15 videos that illustrated the power of Cozmo Codelab. If you are interested in Cozmo, you can find the videos here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8hdOFjUGfExHuuwCs5VHucpd34zefrUW
So when, Anki introduced its foray into Home Robotics with Vector, I was super excited. The details in Vector’s Kickstarter page were amazing, and after going through the videos, I was ready. I became the 1953rd backer of Anki Vector. Two months later, the day arrived, October 9, when Vector would be an addition to my household.
Unboxing vector was a pleasant experience. My two year old is a big fan of Cozmo, his favorite game is Tidal Tap. I had told him to expect Cozmo’s younger brother, and had him open the box. His expressions were a pure delight to re-watch on our home video. HIs only complaint: why did Vector come with one cube while Cozmo had 3.
Setting Vector up was easy, actually much easier than Cozmo. Soon it was up and running on my work table; curious and investigative about its surroundings. It seemed sleepy at first, but after spending ample time on the charger, it became very responsive once we switched on the music and then started talking to it.
So, its been 24 hours since Vector has been up. My first thoughts: Vector is a fun gadget. I love that it can go off to sleep when we leave the room. It made its way back to charger a few times. However, on 2 occasions, it got stuck on one side of the table and ran its battery out. I am not sure if it can make its way back to the charger when the lights are turned off… may be someone at Anki can answer this for me. It never falls of my table, that unlike COzmo who can fall occasionally. It seems to have some difficulty in understanding my accent. It recognizes “Hey Vector” easily, but has difficulty when I say “Come here” or “Go to sleep”. A couple of times, it sensed by presence in the room and woke up, which I thought was neat.
So whats my Day 1 opinion of Vector? Anki’s note on Kickstarter reminded us that our experience with Vector will grow with time… and many exciting things will keep happening. I do believe that. Cozmo too seemed an expensive toy in the meaning, but as Anki added the SDK and Cozmo Codelab, one could see how powerful a gadget Cozmo was. I am sure the same will happen with Vector.
However, having played with all of Anki’s products, my sense is that Anki is going to have a hard time making Vector a mass market consumer gadget. You could have been a gaming fan to enjoy Anki Drive. If you always wanted a companion to play games with or show you tricks, Cozmo is the one for you. But I think that Vector is for die hard robotics fans. I am enjoying Vector, because with my background of Computer Science, I get an understanding of how hard it is to accomplish what Vector is currently doing. To make a gadget that can be always up, and behave emotionally like humans is no easy task. However, my sense is that, those who are not into robotics, would not truly appreciate the capabilities of Vector. My two year old kind of lost interest in Vector is about 20 minutes. He is strongly attached to Cozmo, although Cozmo is marketed for 8+ year olds. He enjoys watching cars race in Anki Drive (again marketed for 8+), although he cannot play with it. He enjoys building tracks with Anki Overdrive. Making Vector interesting for audiences who have limited familiarity with robotics will be Anki’s biggest challenge with Vector. I wish them good luck.
I have attached some shots from Vector in my home. Hope you like them. If you enjoyed reading this story, please do clap or comment.