iloveRobots is a leading developer of interactive play experiences for children, using today’s most innovative technologies. Though our products debuted in 2009, we got our start more than a decade earlier, building high-tech mobile machines at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. What entranced us more than robots’ ability to do tasks, however, was their power to inspire intelligent engagement and emotional exploration. We experimented with using what we’d learned in the lab to transform everyday experiences. The result? Robotic toys for kids that actually adapt to each interaction and grow as kids grow, taking playtime from fun to magical.
The very first iloveRobots products, Penbo and Friends, were born when we built our sophisticated mobile robotics platform into a cute and cuddly creature who comes with and cares for her own little one, Bebe. A far cry from 1950’s “tin man” robots, Penbo, her friend Skylee, and their Bebes can communicate with each other and the with the kids who become their friends. By combining classic nurturing with advanced technology, we’ve created a new kind of imaginative play: one that centers on a genuinely evolving relationship.
Our latest project, which we call “blended reality,” unites the best of online games with robotic toys, for play that connects the physical and virtual worlds. The experience revolves around Mechatars, alien creatures who have joined forces with humanity to defeat universal evil. Just as Penbo adjusts over time to give children highly personalized responses, Mechatars develop battle skills, becoming better warriors the more kids train them. These soldier robots then connect to the PC to enter the virtual Mechaverse, where they test their moves, pick up new tricks, and find allies in their fight for good. And after kids return their Mechatar to on-the-ground play, they’ll discover he’s now a changed creature, ready to learn even more.
Kids can develop real connections with iloveRobots companions, challenging their imaginations and enjoying different experiences every time they play. We, too, keep our work fresh by seeking the newest ways to make interactive toys for kids that combine quality, engagement, and value. Why? Well, we love to play, so making top-notch products that kids love and parents value feels vital and fun. But that’s only part of it. Honestly, we’re also kind of geeky, and we love to figure things out. After all, we did get our start as curious “kids,” ourselves, back at Carnegie Mellon. As we worked there to recreate lifelike movement in a machine, we became hooked on the idea that the elaborate technology behind industrial robots also had an important place in what seemed like a far different realm: the world of childhood.
Turns out, grownups building cool machines aren’t so different from children having fun. Fast-forward more than ten years, and here we are, hard at “play” in a Pittsburgh warehouse-turned-laboratory, where we bounce ideas, try new things, and look forward to sharing our love of robots with kids—big ones and little ones—everywhere.