The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency is launching robot companions into space, and there are humanoid robots like ASIMO, but for most of us, a robot companion should be simple, cheap and easier to store. Aesthetic Studios of Toronto, Canada, wants to fill that niche, with its Little Robot Friends.

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The Friends are basically small processors with LEDs for eyes and a tiny speaker to generate sound. They can interact with their surroundings, picking up changes in light levels, sound, touch and they can even detect each other. Programming can be done from a PC or Mac, and the code is Arduino-based, and as such is open-source.

Each Friend sits on a little wooden dock and can do things like make a noise when you speak to it or touch it, light up its eyes, or engage in “conversation” with others of its ilk. Like Mr. Potato Head, the Friends come with accessories for customizing their faces.

Aesthetic Studios has a Kickstarter page, and they planned to raise $55,000, but the group has long shot past that number and hit the $90,000 mark, with 24 days to go. The money will finance bigger production runs.

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The Little Robot Friends aren’t designed for anything in particular — they are just supposed to be fun to tinker with. Aesthetic Studios does have an educational package, though, for schools that want to teach kids hardware programming.

Credit: Aesthetic Studios / Kickstarter