BLACK FRIDAY – Organize robot fights in his living room, some dreamed. If the near future in which real fights between giant mechas will be possible is still a little too far away, the GEIO "gaming" robot will bring a first stone to the building.
Available since November 15, 2018 at a price of 199 euros, GEIO is the latest of the Chinese manufacturer "Shenzhen GJS Technology", specializing in combat robots. For those who prefer the aggressive look of a war machine to the little boiling cardboard Achille, Nathan's mini-robot, GEIO is a good alternative to buy during the Black Friday 2018 which will continue again this Saturday 24 November on many commercial sites.
Less didactic, GEIO adopts a more gaming approach inspired by first-person shooter games like "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" for example but on your smartphone. Rest assured, GEIO does not fire real ammunition but uses a laser system and infrared light sensors.
No need to dodge any bullets and other warheads because it is indeed with digital missiles that GEIO intends to tackle the competition. The HuffPost could test this Terminator connected robots to see what he has under the hood.
A robot of compete (a little fragile)
Specializing in the development and marketing of combat robots, "GJS" is not his first attempt with GEIO. In 2016, the company was already launching "Ganker", a mechanical wrestler who attracted many fans who have massively contributed to the project's crowdfunding campaign. A craze that had allowed the manufacturer to organize tournaments in China.
This ambition to offer an experience that could almost be described as e-sport, GJS intends to repeat it with GEIO. Larger (18 cm in height) and faster (with an adjustable top speed of up to 2 meters per second), this connected robot is cut for competition.
But the watchword is fun first and foremost. If he wants to be more "badass" with its appearance of spidery tanks than cute STEM robots like Cozmo, which clearly does not play in the same category despite an identical price, GEIO remains for children from 8 years.
Controlled through a smartphone application (iOS and Android), GEIO is equipped with a front camera with facial recognition. The camera also reacts to infrared sensors placed on its body and connected to a counter of health points that will aim to overcome his opponent.
The camera also allows you to aim for the first person through the eyes of GEIO, which can be difficult to control initially despite a target locking system.
Indeed, each of the four "legs" of the GEIO chassis is equipped with two omni-directional wheels that allow it to move sideways, diagonally or turn on itself using the device's gyroscope or the keys on the screen .
The head of GEIO on which is mounted his gun is also articulated. It is therefore necessary to have a good synchronization to adjust the vertical and horizontal aim for its shots by moving the body and / or the head of GEIO.
Combined with speed, the subtlety of GEIO controls will cause some snags and falls. During our test, the robot fell from a height of 50 to 60 cm from a table that served as a battle arena, and his head (the turret) was unhooked from the body. GEIO is a beautiful toy, so take care of it by leaving it on the ground.
A real nice video game in multiplayer, a little less in solo
GEIO is thought to be played together, up to four players per game. The clash is the mainspring on which the different game modes rest. But the automaton also offers solo game modes spiced up with augmented reality.
The application will then appear on your screen virtual enemies in the environment that must be cut down. But the game mode quickly loses its interest in addition to being laborious to launch. It is indeed necessary to scan the robot with your smartphone so that it synchronizes with the environment in AR, a process that requires enough precision and is therefore a bit too long.
For more freedom, GEIO has an exploration mode that allows you to move freely and terrorize your cat. It is especially this mode, it must be admitted, which is the most amusing. All you have to do is run over it in maximum speed like a remote control car.
If the names and descriptions of each game mode are not very clear, an instructional video integrated into the application can better identify the rules that remain very basic. It is also a shame that for the moment only one mode of play allows more than two players to compete simultaneously, the others being limited to duels.
The four modes of multiplayer game allow in particular to organize mano-mano duels in the "battle" mode where two players engage in a fratricidal struggle at the end of which there can be only one. They can then hide, continue and shoot each other until their life bar is exhausted.
An overview of the battle mode of GEIO:
For less drunk, the cryptically called "knight" mode is a kind of game of cat and mouse. Players can only use their robot's gyroscopic controls by holding their smartphone in one hand only (like a knight's sword?).
GEIO is programmed here to react to the slightest shock, so the goal is to knock out your opponent by getting in it while avoiding it and any obstacles present in the scene.
An overview of the "knight" mode of GEIO:
In the treasure hunt mode, it will be a question of looking for hidden virtual treasures in the environment and bringing them back to its base in order to collect a bigger loot than its opponent. Again, the game mode allows only two players at the same time which can be a source of frustration especially if your opponent is content to stay in front of your base to annoy you.
But the only mode that allows more than two players to compete simultaneously is the race mode that turns your living room into a Mario Kart circuit. You also have the opportunity to play alone in race against the clock. But the game mode loses its interest in confined spaces that may quickly make you go round in circles.
An overview of the "race" mode of GEIO:
In each of these game modes, players have the opportunity to use assets called totems. These are printed on cardboard blocks that must be scanned with GEIO's front camera, like a QR code. They provide a strategic advantage by freezing enemies on the spot or slowing them down. Some totems are however exclusive to a specific game mode.
The different totems:
A robot "alive" but at the interface too busy
Under the tune of a killer robot sent by Skynet, GEIO wants to be a "living" robot. If he does not risk passing the Turing test, GEIO is able to express himself emotionally and lets you know through his camera.
He will for example be overjoyed after a win, frustrated after a defeat and always happy to see his master, he recognizes thanks to the built-in facial recognition device. To recognize the different expressions that can be sound, a light indicator on the face of GEIO identifies the different emotions he can feel.
But if only a standard smartphone screen was as big as the heart of GEIO. Indeed, the interface of the robot is very complete, at the risk of doing too much. Everything it sees is transcribed on your screen which also allows you to follow in real time the evolution of your life counter as well as that of your opponent.
You can also manage your totem inventory and select the best asset for the situation. But, smartphone screen requires, virtual "joysticks" to control the robot are also represented, to avoid you smear your phone frantic fingertips.
Except there are three. One to go from right to left, another to turn on oneself and one to direct the head of GEIO. The whole gives a saturated aspect to the interface which at times can hinder the first-person view.
Despite these small flaws in the visibility of the interface, GEIO remains a real connected robot, more than a gadget, which offers an experience that comes closest to a video game. With its aggressive look tempered by a range of "emotions", this mini Terminator would find grace even in the eyes of John Connor.
The combat robot
* At the time of publication, the price was 199.99 euros.
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