Japan's Tomy to launch little robot dogs, boxers with motion controls

The Japanese toymaker showed new controls that use punches, cranks, gestures to guide the robots

Japanese game and toy maker Tomy is showing a host of innovative controls for its new products on display at the International Tokyo Toy Show.

The star of its massive booth at the show is its upcoming i-SODOG, a robotic dog about the size of a chihuahua with 15 electric motors to control movements.

The dog, which is due out next year in Japan, comes with a traditional remote control but can also sync with an iPhone via Bluetooth for motion control, and is equipped with a microphone for voice controls and a touch sensor on its nose.

(See video of Tomy's new robots on YouTube.)

The company has been making remote-control robots for over 50 years, but always in humanoid shapes.

"A dog appeals to more people, and allows for a greater number of different poses," said Katsufumi Hiroka, a project manager at the company.

The dog will cost around ¥30,000, or about US$380. The company, which has been making remote control robots for over 50 years, plans to launch internationally but has no firm date yet.

Tomy, which is called TakaraTomy in Japan, also showed a new line of tiny remote-controlled boxing robots designed for staging matches with up to 20 participants. Users steer their charges by punching with both hands, using two gesture-driven controllers. When one of the robots takes six headshots it freezes up and is "knocked out" until it is reset.

A single controller can drive multiple robots in sync for mass attacks, and has a built-in charger, as well as a speaker for battle sounds. The "Battroborg" robots will cost ¥3,800, or about US$50 each.

The company is also displaying a remote control car that uses no external batteries. The "EDash" is charged using a hand generator attached to the controller, and users must crank a small handle to power up the cars when they run out of juice. The handle must also be cranked while using the car, to power the remote control.

The toy comes in several different models based on real electric cars, including the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf.

The International Tokyo Toy Show runs through Sunday.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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