WowWee Femisapien

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WowWee Femisapien Review

Revolutionary New Interface

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Femisapien shatters the interface barrier.  To know Femisapien is to touch her, and I mean that in the most courteous and Platonic matter!  WowWee worked hard to make Femisapien the first robot in their blockbuster selling toy robot line that does not require a remote control. They did this through the intelligent use of Femisapien's Posing, Hand Gesture, and 4-Point Joystick interfaces.  (Editor’s Note: for those of you incorrigible remote control types, you can use the original Robosapien remote control with her too.)

Posing interface

For me the posing interface is the most powerful and fun method of playing with Femisapien. As you can see in the accompanying video review, you can create a Femisapien dance or skit in literally seconds.  You put her in Learning Mode and you simply move her at one of two different speeds, slow or fast.  That's it.  After each movement she will beep at you to tell you she's memorized the movement.  Then just adding keep movements until you're done, up to 80 movements total. To finish the sequence just wait 4 seconds or tilt her head out of Learning mode. Any time you want to see the sequence just wave your hand in front of her face. It really is that simple.  This brings us to her second interface mode, the Hand Gesture interface.

IMPORTANT TIP: When moving Femisapien's arms always move them from the shoulder joint, never grab her arms or hands directly to move her arms or you risk breaking her.  Read the manual for other important tips on the proper handling of Femisapien.

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Femisapien’s New Ride

Hand Gesture interface

The Hand Gesture interface only contains a small set of 6 commands.  There is the previously mentioned single wave which makes Femisapien play back the last performance you taught her, four commands to make her walk in a variety of ways, and one command to make her do the factory dance demonstration.  This interface is a clever addition by WowWee to give you quick access to Femisapien's most frequently used functions in a convenient and easy to remember interface.

TIP: You can tell if you've done a successful hand wave in front of her face by watching her wrist LED's. Each time she senses a hand wave they will pulse once.

4-Point Joystick interface

The 4-Point Joystick interface opens the door to Femisapien's complete set of movements, her rich set of fun modes and behaviors, and her special functions. Looking at her sleek exterior you might find the idea of a joystick somewhat alien. The secret is that Femisapien's hands are actually joysticks themselves. They may look like simple fixed elements at the end of her arms, but each hand is actually a complex switch that can be pushed or pulled in 4 different directions.  The 4 directions are forwards, backwards, inwards to her body, and outwards away from her body; since these directions are relative to her current hand orientation in space, they are being used here with the assumption that she is standing in the default position which is the position she resets to when you tap her head. Therefore there are a total of 16 possible joystick combinations between her two hands (4 x 4).

Here are a few examples of joystick commands:

  • Pulling her right hand towards you when she is in Attentive mode will make Femisapien enter her Fashion Pose mode where she changes position every 3 seconds. 
  • Pushing her right hand backwards away from you in that same mode turns her in to a fast backup singer where she will dance to a tune music while her wrist LED's pulse and she sings along.
  • Pushing both hands inwards towards her body will put her in one of my favorite modes where she will dance with you.  She lifts her hands up and as soon as you grab them with a slight squeezing motion, she follows your lead in a slow dance step.

TIP: If Femisapien does not perform the movement or trick you expected when you tried out a 4-Point Joystick interface command, make sure she is in the right mode: either Attentive or Responsive.  You're probably in the wrong mode.

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TIP: When the manual shows you the hand positions for a command that is triggered through the use of both her hands instead of just one of them, you must trigger both hands simultaneously, not one then the other.  For example, if the command calls for you to push both of her hands inwards, you cannot push the left hand inwards first and then while holding it, push the right in next (or vice a versa).  You must push them both inwards simultaneously.  Watch her wrist LEDs. They should both light up when you do a double hand maneuver properly.  If you see only one LED light up, then only one of the hands registered your touch.

Head Tapping

One of the really nice small but powerful touches WowWee added to Femisapien's interface is the head tap.  This deceptively simple motion becomes a natural and reflexive movement you can use to interact with her. In most modes and behaviors tapping her once on the head will get her to stop what she is doing.  Tapping it again makes her reset her position to a neutral pose.  Pushing her head down for 2 seconds or more makes her do the factory dance demonstration. After even a short time of using her Posing, Hand Gesture, and Head Tap interface suite you start to realize that WowWee has created a uniquely different way for interacting with a robot and teaching it tricks that is far easier to learn and remember than a complex remote control. I can honestly say that it is as big of an improvement in human-robot interaction as the mouse was to human-computer interaction.

NEXT: Operation Modes & Behaviors (Tricks)

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