Robots are all the rage this summer as toys from the latest 'Transformers'
ator' movies fill stores, and Carnegie Mellon University spin
Bossa Nova Robotics In
c. plans to start sellin
g its own two playthin
g weeks on cable shoppin
g channel QVC and onlin
The yellow, gorilla-faced Prime-8 and chubby pin
Penbo showed off
their tricks, speed and agility Thursday at an event at the Oakland
They're the first toys developed with technology from CMU's Robotics
stitute to debut commercially, but others are in
the design and prototype
For consumers, 'The most successful application for robots so far is in
ess,' said John Feghali, one of Bossa Nova's three founders.
spired by Furby and other in
teractive toys, Prime-8 and Penbo use mechanics
adapted from a cockroach-like robot named RHex created several years ago at CMU.
Both toys walk or run on two rotatin
g limbs, Prime-8 on his arms and Penbo on
They don't trip on carpet as many toy robots do, their creators say. And
g sensors, they respond to their owners' moves, play games and dance and
fall asleep if they're ignored. Blow a kiss to Penbo, and she'll kiss back.
Prime-8, geared for boys ages 8 to 12, goes on sale for $99.99 on QVC on July
25. Penbo, for girls 4 to 6 and costin
g $69.99, will follow with her first TV
Amazon.com will feature both products startin
g Aug. 1, and they'll be in
stores for the holidays.
Feghali along with Bossa Nova cofounders David Palmer and Sarjoun Skaff
tested their play robots with children at Carnegie Science Center on the North
Shore. The toys will contin
ue to be used there as part of the Robot Workshop at
the science center's new Roboworld, billed as the world's biggest permanent
Feghali, Palmer and Skaff met through CMU, shared a likin
g for bossa nova
music and talked about startin
g a robotics busin
They decided to make entertainin
g and educational toys that would be priced
competitively after watchin
g a group of toddlers giggle as RHex chased them
around a campus lawn.
The partners founded their company four years ago, secured money from several
g the Pittsburgh Technology Council's annual EnterPrize contest,
and brought in
former Mattel, Hasbro and MGA Entertain
ment executive Martin
Hitch as CEO.
While toy robots undoubtedly are popular with kids, gaugin
g sales isn't easy.
Electronics claimed $865 million of the toy in
dustry's total $21.6 billion in
sales last year, but in
teractive technology is showin
g up in
lots of classic
g from dolls to board games. The Japan Robotics Association
forecasts that the market for personal and lifestyle robots will grow to $15
billion by 2015.
For kids, 'Robotic toys are emulatin