My Dad just came back from a holiday in Canada visiting family and brought my Son, Reiss, back a robot. Not just any robot but a shiny silver Robosapien. These "toy" robots were all over the news before Christmas last year with predictions of it being that Christmas' the best selling toy. Having lived with it for two days I can see why.
It comes with a hand held remote control similar to a large TV remote. You can use the remote to control Robosapien's arms, legs, hands and movements. Robosapien also has a good repertoire of burps and farts which amuses Reiss no end.
Robosapien's designers also included the ability to enter short programs via the remote so that you can combine it's built-in moves in any number of ways. Suddenly Robosapien stops being just a kids toy and becomes a serious Dad Toy. I went straight on to Google to do a search for Robosapien and found this fantastic unofficial site full of Robosapien hacks, mods and tips. My particular favourite mods are the embedded wireless camera and the flame thrower (I kid you not). They also have a number of sample programs that you can type in. These also help explain Robosapien programming much better than the supplied manual. Someone has even written some software for the PC which allows you to write your Robosapien programs on the PC and beam them directly to your robot, saves messing with the remote and I guess you can save your programs on disk.
I have always loved computer programming (although as the Kaiser Chiefs would say "Every day I program less and less") and ever since my Son was born I have wondered how/where he might experience the joys of it too. When I was a kid every home computer came preloaded with Basic, but now kids just switch on their game consoles and don't even consider how the bits and bytes inside become so arranged as to make it a game. So perhaps Robosapien will be the answer, although Reiss keeps asking me to do some "films" for Robosapien, I suppose when you are five films and programs are the same thing.