Wall-E has adorable droopy eyes and is totally compelling, but I have to remind everyone that he isn't real. If you need a minute to let that sink in take as much time as you need. We're gonna talk about Romibo and you can catch up later.

The thing is that when researchers are trying to conduct social experiments, look at human-robot interactions, or pair robots with disabled individuals, the unhumaness of the robots can be distracting or unnerving. There have been other attempts to make cute, dynamic robots, but Romibo has a much broader range of functions and sensors and is more customizable as a therapeutic robot. Originally introduced in 2012, Romibo's year on the open-source circuit has led to improvements like using an iPhone for greater emotional eye expression, and broader control over Romibo's movements through light sensors and accelerometers. Romibo can be controlled using an iPad or its autonomous functionality and it has SD input. Not bad for a robot that looks like a moldy gumdrop. [IEEE Spectrum]