Keepon is a small yellow robot designed to study social development by interacting with children. Keepon was developed by Hideki Kozima (小嶋 秀樹 Kojima Hideki) while at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Kyoto, Japan. Keepon has four motors, a rubber skin, two cameras in its eyes, and a microphone in its nose.
In the context of Kozima's "Infanoid" project, Keepon has been used to study the underlying mechanisms of social communication. Its simple appearance and behavior are intended to help children, even those with developmental disorders such as autism, to understand its attentive and emotive actions. The robot, usually under the control of a teleoperator, has interacted with children in schools and remedial centers for developmental disorders since 2003.
Keepon achieved popularity with the March 2007 YouTube release of a video in which the robot was depicted dancing to the song "I Turn My Camera On" by the band Spoon. The video was made by Marek Michalowski of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, after programming Keepon to dance to musical rhythms. Keepon was subsequently featured in a WIRED Magazine-produced music video for Spoon's "Don't You Evah."
Keepon's awards have included the €10,000 Robots at Play Prize (Odense, Denmark, August 2007); the Best Interactive Demonstration Award at RO-MAN (Jeju, Korea, August 2007); and the First Grand Challenge in Human-Robot Interaction at ICRA (Pasadena, CA, May 2008). Keepon appeared at WIRED NextFest in September 2007 in Los Angeles, CA and September/October 2008 in Chicago, IL. Keepon was a special performer at the 2008 Webby Awards.
Keepon is currently available for purchase at $30,000, though a price drop is speculated after simpler mechanisms are developed. Furthermore, in response to Keepon's online popularity, a toy version, called the My Keepon, was announced in January 2010 by Wow! Stuff in conjunction with BeatBots. The toy aims to "[capture] the essence of the Keepon character", including its reactivity to touch and ability to dance to music. It became available for order in the United Kingdom and the United States in fall 2011, and began shipping in late October 2011. The makers say part of the profits from My Keepon sales "will go towards subsidizing and donating BeatBots' research-grade robots to therapists and researchers."
EDF Energy Adverts
Keepon experienced another upsurge in popularity in 2012 after a variant of Keepon appeared in an advertising campaign for EDF Energy. The Keepon, named Zingy, who was created by BeatBots and programmed by Michalowski, has so far appeared in three adverts for EDF's Blue Plus Price Promise and danced in two; dancing along to Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's hit, Together in Electric Dreams, and the Hawaii Five-O theme. Demand for MyKeepon toys based on Zingy, as well as standard Keepon and MyKeepon, has swelled due to this advertising campaign.
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- Keepon spotted in EDF Energy ad? | Toy Industry | News by ToyNews
- Consumers plea for EDF Energy advert toy Zingy | Toy Industry | News by ToyNews
- Kozima, Hideki; Cocoro Nakagawa, Cocoro; Yano, Hiroyuki, "Can a robot empathize with people?", Artificial Life and Robotics, Springer Japan, Volume 8, Number 1 / September, 2004, pp. 83–88.
- Kozima, H.; Nakagawa, C., "A robot in a playroom with preschool children: Longitudinal field practice", Robot and Human interactive Communication, 2007. RO-MAN 2007. The 16th IEEE International Symposium on 26-29 Aug. 2007, pp. 1058–1059.
- Keepons.co.uk - everything about Mykeepon
- BeatBots: Robots with Rhythm
- Hideki Kozima's home page - Miyagi University
- Marek Michalowski's home page
- Keepon's FaceBook page
- YouTube - Keepon's attentive and emotive actions
- YouTube - Keepon dancing to Spoon's "I Turn My Camera On"
- YouTube - Keepon dancing to Spoon's "Don't You Evah"
- YouTube - Keepon: Friend or Foe?
- YouTube - Keepon Auditioning
- "Robots with rhythm could rock your world", by Celeste Biever, New Scientist news service, 22 March 2007.