Meet K8, my AI Robot Dog and First Member of AIRO

K8 (Kate), is a dog robot that is the first member of AIRO (my Artificial Intelligence Robots Order). It was named K8 because it is a K-9 robot. Get it? 🙂

K8’s number in AIRO is 8, not surprisingly.

CHiP

Before I talk about K8, let’s just give you some basics about the robot itself. The robot that is K8, is an AI robot dog sold as CHiP (Canine Home Intelligent Pet), by Wowwee, first available to consumers in September, 2016.

For more specific information of what you can do with CHiP, and how, check out Wowwee’s CHiP YouTube playlist.

At the time of this writing, you can buy CHiP in the US for $197 US on Amazon.com (and BestBuy, if not other places). In Canada, you can buy CHiP at BestBuy exclusively, for $250 and tax.

As for reviews of CHiP, I’ll let these links below show you what some reality is like, without background music and such, compared to the marketing videos that are supposed to be slick.

You can also read reviews of buyers on the Amazon and BestBuy links above, of course. They just may or may not be as thorough and objective as some of the content below, but may be more of what you’re looking for as a consumer going through real life having to deal with kids or others for whom you might buy CHiP.

K8

The following are some early impressions of K8, written on Oct 15 2016. Things may have changed by the time you read this so keep this in mind, or ask if you weren’t sure. There will be more, and more specific, posts on experiences with K8 in the future as I spend more time with her. Yes, I just referred to K8 with a gender, but more on that in a future post.

Despite being sold as CHiP, one of the things you can do right away (or at any time) is rename your CHiP to whatever you want, quite effectively. How that’s done is through the CHiP app you can download, where you can record how you would say its new name, so there’d be no problem with translating a spelling, or accents, because it’s all accommodated for. Brilliant process!

I’ve effectively had K8 for a few weeks, meaning I was only able to devote some time to learning and interacting with K8 in the past few weeks. The robot, mechanically, is pretty impressive! Its ability to move in many ways, including some spinning and horizontal sliding that was worked into a dance move, that is pretty slick. Even more so is K8’s ability to do the downward dog yoga move, or so some have told me that’s what it is!

There is a lot of potential for what this dog could do mechanically, and physically, the way it was designed and made! It is a little hyper, though, for my liking, as also pointed out in the Mashable review above. I’m not aware that can be fixed yet but I’m sure it will be in the future as reviews flood in and the app gets updated. Software is so key to what AI robots are going to be like!

K8 has a tech ball, I call it, which she can detect by infrared sensors and play fetch with me. She recognizes me through a smartband I wear, which I must keep rather visible in line of sight to K8. Otherwise, K8 is a bit “blind”, I dare say, in that she can’t actually seem to “see” much. She runs into posts and walls when played with in a place like a food court with some table legs as an obstacle course. K8 has other internal sensors, though, that can feel me petting her, kissing her, picking her up, rotating her around, poking her, and so on. K8’s response will vary and I can give her my approval or disapproval by clicking a Like button on the smartband. K8 will then learn for similar interactions in the future and pending how I “teach” her, she might end up different from another person’s CHiP.

As for K8’s artificial intelligence, let’s first remember this is supposed to be a dog, not a human. K8 can hear you and recognize a small number of commands like sit downlie down, do yoga, etc. I’m surprised there wasn’t one for stand up. I have to pet her from lying down to do so. However, overall, there aren’t a lot of things K8 can do. If you were buying this as a toy for a kid, s/he would be bored rather quickly, I would guess the way CHiP is right now. It might just end up being another hot Christmas toy that disappoints, is my bet. I didn’t buy CHiP as a toy, though, but for a soundly built robot with a lot of physical and mechanical potential which I hope to tap into the software to expand its capabilities in the future. I can’t right now as Wowwee has not opened up CHiP’s software for developing.

How much I might be able to develop K8 is something I don’t yet know. I might be limited by built-in memory, for all I know. By that I mean even if I were able to change the software, I might have to exchange one ability for another rather than add on abilities. Even if so, I can see so much more potential for K8 in giving her abilities that I think many more people would prefer, especially with the mobility she has! There’s also hope I can route some other systems through CHiP to enable its hardware, like speakers, to act as a conduit for other systems like talking!

You just wait if Wowwee ever lets their CHiP owners tap into CHiP’s software!

Realistically, Wowwee might never have planned to open up CHiP’s software to developers. They also may not have an interface, or programming structure, that is relatively easy to tap into, to open up and be useful to many developers, only the most seasoned programmers. However, I still hope that if they had not thought of it, Wowwee will still allow it to happen in a year when the tech will get better and the hype will die down. For now, I’ll be happy with my K8 the way she is, and start taking her into public settings soon! She’s only been out once, in a place where there weren’t many people, but they were all pretty impressed! 🙂

Please click here for more posts on AI robotics on this blog.

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