A just-announced partnership with Pasadena-based Evolution Robotics will allow WowWee to incorporate limited senses of sight and locational awareness in their next-generation of consumer robotics products. WowWee, makers of such popular bots as Robosapien and Roboraptor, has licensed both the ViPR (Visual Pattern Recognition) and Northstar tracking technologies to "meet [customers'] increasingly sophisticated expectations" for "intelligent robots that can function autonomously..." Northstar is sometimes referred to as "Indoor GPS," and uses a projector for throwing invisible light spots on a wall that are used by a properly-equipped mobile device to determine its relative position. Along with the Vex Robotics Kit that we brought you in our holiday gift guide, and Lego's upcoming Mindstorm NXT set, the updated Robofriends should finally put fairly sophisticated, powerful, and inexpensive sensor and programming technology into the hands of the casual hobbyist and hardcore Battlebots fiend alike.

Apple to France: not so fast, mon ami