Friday, January 30, 2009

Girls get their own robot: Penbo the Pengiun

Girls Get Penbo Robot

While most robots are mischievous things, Bossa Nova has developed a
cute pink penguin aimed at appealing to girls rather than boys looking
to destroy everything in their path.

A cross between a doll that needs caring for and kids favourite
Pengu, Penbo (see what they've done there) is a pink penguin that
chirps and cheeps its way into your affections.

Covered in sensors the bird responds to being stroked by purring and dances the cha-cha when patted on the head.

The secret bonus however is when you press the red heart on its
chest. A door flaps down and out pops a baby penguin capable of talking
to its mother.

One, two, three... Arhhhh.

Article Link

First Looks Reviews: Bossa Nova Prime-8

Prime-8 Robot For Kids

We're always interested to see
what the next big thing in the world of toys are, and the unusual
looking Prime-8 robot from Bossa Nova is certainly worth a second look.
Turn the Prime-8 on and he'll give Donkey Kong a run for his money,
running on his hands at speed while performing a whole bunch of
ape-like movements by swaying from side to side. Apart from keeping you
entertained with his external antics, the Prime-8 also comes with eight
built-in games including flinging soft balls at his sensors - which are
(in)conveniently located in the groin area. Summer should be pretty
interesting when the Prime-8 is let out of its cage for £80.

Prime-8 Robot For Kids
Article Link

Prime-8 Robot Gorilla Can Outrun Your Kids


As if your poor kids didn’t have enough toy robot dangers
to be worried about, they have no way of escaping from the Prime-8
robot gorilla (::snork::), which is fast enough to run them down. The
bipedal robot propels itself forward by rotating its two gigantic arms
around at high speed, and according to its creators at Bossa Nova, “it
can run as fast as a small child.” On grass, no less. This is supposed
to be an excellent way for kids to get exercise, and I couldn’t agree
more, especially if the Prime-8 comes with a chase mode and angry ape
noises (no details on that). To defend yourself, you chuck balls at it
until you hit it in the crotch. I’m not kidding, that’s one of the
eight included games.


Prime-8 is partially autonomous, although you can control him with
buttons on his body or a remote (thank god). It should go on sale for
Christmas of this year for about $140.

Article Link

Bossa Nova Prime-8 robot can outrun a fat child

Right now WowWee
might be the name most associated with domestic “toy” robots, but rival
Bossa Nova is looking to steal some of that market share.  The company
has been demonstrating the Bossa Nova Prime-8, an ape-themed ‘bot that
they claim is the fastest bi-ped robot to date.  How fast?  Well,
potentially faster than a small child.


“It can run as fast as a small child.  That makes it
ideal for getting kids to exercise as they can race against it in the
park” Prime-8’s inventor

Two huge circular arms are used to get Prime-8 moving, and though
Bossa Nova haven’t released any specific speed details we’d imagine a
very fast indoor rate if it can manage to chase kids on park grass.  As
is usual with today’s ‘bots, Prime-8 can either be remote-controlled
or, when you’d rather leave him to his own devices, there are
autonomous routines and games.

An integrated motion sensor lets the robot act as a room guard, plus
there are games such as Prime-8 pretending to be a bowling ball.  It’s
expected to cost around £100 ($143) when it launches in time for
Christmas 2009.

Prime-8: The fastest bi-ped robot in town

Prime-8 Robot Runs Fast
A new robotics company, Bossa Nova robots, is hoping to steal Wow Wee's
thunder this Christmas with the launch of what it is claiming is the
fastest bi-ped robot around.

The new bright yellow Gorilla, called Prime-8 (see what they've
done there) will come with two massive circular arms to help him move
around and, as we saw at a demo at this year's Toy Fair in London, a

Powered by a remote control as well as the odd button on his body,
the robot will be able to run fast, play a series of interactive games like pretending to be a bowling ball and act guard to your bedroom thanks to a built in motion sensor.

"It can run as fast as a small child," the inventor of Prime-8 told
Pocket-lint. "That makes it ideal for getting kids to exercise as they
can race against it in the park".

Costing around £90 when its hit the toy shops in time for
Christmas, it might not be as clever as RoboSapien, but it plans to out
run him all the same.

Article Link

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shipping costs decline 90%

The rate for shipping a container from Asia to Europe, the world's busiest trade lane, has fallen to around $300, one-tenth the cost of a year ago, even as some shippers cancel regular runs. Some ships have gone so far as to take containers free. The only cost to the shipper is roughly $500 in fuel and transit fees, which are assessed on all containers.

According to the most recent data available, the U.S., Japan, China and the European Union all suffered 10% declines in exports in November, auguring a bitter 2009 for global trade. Yet shipping companies aren't expected to cancel any orders for new ships, allowing the global fleet to increase by over 12% -- way ahead of expected demand.

Article Link (WSJ)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gorilla keeps intruders at bay

For errant boys determined to keep prying parents out of their
bedrooms, a Lebanese entrepreneur with a PhD in robotics has finally
found the answer.

by the Toy Fair as one of the best new products of 2009, the
gorilla-based robot Prime-8 uses motion sensors to hurl coconut
missiles at intruders and banishes snoopers with a bloodcurdling growl.

Dr Sarjoun Skaff has spent seven years flying between the US and China developing state-of-the-art robot technology.

Pittsburg-based start-up company, Boffa Nova Concepts, is about to
unleash Prime-8 and its penguin-based sister robot Penbo upon the

Priced at £89.99, Prime-8 is a menacing looking yellow robot with clenched fists at the end of muscle-bound circular arms.

"He is a good gorilla most of the time," said Dr Skaff. "But he has personality quirks and sometimes he goes bananas."

The robot falls asleep when not played with and becomes angry when woken - trembling and jabbing his fists.

active, Prime-8 prepares for robot Olympics - practising his backstroke
by hurtling backwards along the floor while emitting loud splashing

The robot also enters into laser warfare with other Prime-8s and can be killed if struck at the heart.

from Boffa Nova Concepts, Penbo is aimed at young girls, and responds
to being stroked by purring and dances the cha-cha when patted on the

Article Link

Monday, January 26, 2009

That's VC entertainment: Game, virtual world fundings top $885M

In 2008, VentureBeat chronicled lots of game and virtual world
fundings. Our updated list shows 93 game companies that raised more
than $885.6 million worth of venture capital and angel funds.

That’s nothing compared to the $8.4 billion or so going into cleantech,
but it’s probably one of the biggest years for venture investment in
video game companies. Many of these companies may shut down because of
the recession.

Article Link

Takara Tomy's remote control robo-Q robot is tiny, incredibly cute

Takara Tomy never
fails to impress, and with its latest robot, it's done an excellent job
at eliciting "awws." You see, the February-bound robo-Q bipedal robot
is about the size of a human thumb, yet its heart and mind are big
enough to understand commands via remote control. There's even obstacle
recognition software built-in to keep it from toppling over gigantic
foreign objects (you know, like toothpicks and push pins), which is
awesome enough in and of itself to warrant the ¥3,675 ($42) price

Article Link (Engadget)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

VC Dollars Dropped 33 Percent In The Fourth Quarter

Venture capital firms tightened their purse strings in the fourth
quarter of 2008, according to the latest MoneyTree Report released by
the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The total dollar amount invested in venture financings was $5.4
billion, down 33 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 (when it was
$8.09 billion) and down 26 percent from the third quarter of 2008
(when it was $7.3 billion). For the entire year, the total venture
capital invested into startups was $28.3 billion, down 8 percent.

Article Link (Tech Crunch)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spark to Spearhead WowWee UK

spin master, wowwee

Former Spin Master sales director Graham Spark is moving on from a short spell with Tomy to set up a new UK operation for robotics specialist WowWee.

The move sees WowWee end its successful UK distribution deal with Character Options, which has already signed up a new range of robotic toys from US manufacturer Bossa Nova.

Article Link (Toy News Online)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Electronics and Women

Women buy 57% of consumer electronics (to the tune of about $80B), but influence 90% of all CE purchases. The number of women who said they thought manufacturers had them in mind when developing products: 1%. That’s a number from 2004.

According to the Femme Den Smarties, Larry Summers was right: women’s brains ARE different from guys’ and, frankly, figuring out how to hook up a router is harder for us. For example, a Yale study tested college students’ ability to set a VCR from written instructions. Some 68% of the men managed to do it on the first try. Only 16% of the women succeeded. This could explain why we’re hopeless when it comes to simple things, like installing a home theater.

Men, literally, have more gray matter in their brains. That makes them better at specialized and focused tasks. Women, on the other hand, have more white matter. That’s the tissue that wires processing centers together. That means we rock at multitasking, and integrating functions, but figuring out the glitch with the WiFi can be a hurdle.

How can manufacturers use these differences to their advantage? The Smart Design women had a few pointers. Among them:

  1. Recognize that being female is not niche.
    We’re 51% of the population, people! And, when it comes to
    shopping, we control over 80 cents on the dollar. “The biggest
    mistake we have seen is treating women like a special interest group
    with only post-design considerations like color and finish. We call
    this the ’shrink it and pink it’ approach. And, it’s
    offensive to most women.” says Enga.
  2. Design for an average user, not a power user. This
    doesn’t mean a dumbed-down product, but one that’s
    accessible to the largest number of people. While men have more
    patience than women with technological complexity than women (see
    above), they’re equally charmed by products that are easy to
    use. The iPod is, of course, the benchmark CE product for every
    manufacturer, but the easy-to-use Flip Mino camcorder, which last year
    sold 1.5M units, demonstrates the universal appeal of intuitive design.
    Focus on pleasing the ladies, and you’ll likely get the guys as
  3. Expand the focus to include warmer values.
    Cold values focus on things like faster, bigger, slicker, with more
    features. Warm values include such things as a focus on how a product
    fits into a user’s lifestyle. How does it fit into the home or
    office aesthetically? Does it enable the buyer to do something she
    normally wants to do, only better or easier?
  4. Design with a recognition of a product’s broader impact.
    Women’s language around consumer electronics invariably includes
    other people. They worry about the effect of video games on their
    children, the ability of their parents to use a cellphone in an
    emergency, their husband’s obsession with his
    Blackberry. They are, therefore, intrigued with products that have
    positive social effects--like the Wii’s knack for enabling
    interactive fun for a range of users.
  5. Add features only if there’s a good reason to do so
    – not just to please the marketing department, or because the
    company’s engineers are enamored with their own technological
    wizardry. “A 50-page quick start manual is not a good
    idea,” says Eden.
Article link (Fast Company)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why events are scheduled on Tuesday

Travel: Journalists won't travel on Sundays, a non working day, for an event or presentation on Monday.

Weeklies: While a blog or website only needs moments
to distribute the news, the longest lead time of any publication that
can still be considered timely is the weekly. And the Print cycle for
most weeklies is run such that Wednesday or Thursday is not always
enough time for the weeklies to get the news in print.

Analysts: Analyst briefings are usually set the day before the news, minimizing time for info to leak out.

Set Up: The Apple event team has an extra last minute working day to set up their event.

It's PR 101: Apparently, most companies aim for
Tuesday as an important day to break news for all the reasons above.
It's just that most companies don't get noticed for this, because their
news isn't received by millions of cultists.
Article Link (Gizmodo)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Casual MMOs get between 10-25% of users to pay

There's been some good number crunching going on at conferences and on the blogosphere to find out the basic economics of casual mmo / free to play companies. From a post a few months ago Jeremy Liew figured that successful MMOGs can expect around $1-2 per unique monthly user. A few of the figures from that post below:

* Club Penguin: $1.62/mthly user/mo
* Habbo: $1.30/mthly user/mo
* Runescape: $0.84/mthly user/mo

others from outside that article:
* Puzzle Pirates: $1.50/mthly user/mo
* IMVU: $1.66/mthly user/mo (from GigaOM)

Article Link

Social Gaming in 2009: Challenges and Opportunities

First, the challenges: Many of the execs I contacted brought up the unpredictability of social games. For example, Charles Edward Hudson III, V-P of business development for Serious Business, noted that the majority of startups in the space are still at the mercy of the top social networks, which have a habit of suddenly changing their policies — to the detriment of third-party applications such as social games.

There’s unpredictability in competition, too. Hudson pointed out that most social network-based games are easy to produce, so established developers often find themselves competing with quickie knock-off versions of their IP. Kristian Segerstrale, CEO and co-founder of Playfish, was also concerned with how dubious fly-by-night social games might hurt the genre as a whole. “Poor quality user experiences or misleading monetization mechanisms like some of the aggressive CPA practices we’ve seen in 2008 could jeopardize the perception of social games and our growth potential as an industry,” he wrote me.

Article Link