You’ve probably seen Sophia, a “realistic” robot created by Hanson Robotics that has garnered a lot of attention in the media. That attention is supposedly a result of how lifelike it is, but the more likely reason is that it creeps people out and that’s interesting. Sophia fits squarely into the “uncanny valley” that’s notoriously disturbing to humans. But, if that interests you, you can now back a Kickstarter campaign for Sophia’s little sister Little Sophia.
We’re not sure why two sisters would share a name, but the family resemblance is unmistakable. Sophia is a life-size robot built with state-of-the-art technology, and Little Sophia is essentially a small 14" tall toy robot designed to look like Sophia on a superficial level. Aesthetics aside, Little Sophia is intended to be educational and a “rewarding adventure for kids 7–13 years old, especially girls.”
Little Sophia is programmable, and, unlike the larger Sophia, can actually walk around. Like Sophia, Little Sophia can talk, sing, and tell jokes. Little Sophia has an expressive face, and has facial tracking and recognition of its own. Children can program Little Sophia with either Blockly or Python. Hanson Robotics’ stated goal is to get girls interested in STEM — specifically robotics and programming. Of course, that only works if your kid isn’t too creeped out to play with Little Sophia.
If you’re interested, Little Sophia is actually surprisingly affordable for super early birds (today only) at $99 plus shipping, and $149 thereafter. The Kickstarter campaign is running until March 31st, and rewards are expected to ship in December 2019.