This Tiny Robot Wants To Turn Your Phone Into A Desktop R2-D2

Have you ever looked at your phone and thought, “I wish this thing had wheels”?

Looi desktop robot

At-home robots with wheels have had a rough go. Amazon’s Astro. Samsung’s Ballie, whatever the hell this thing is — none of them, even those backed by tech giants, have taken off. But maybe it’s because they missed the point — maybe it’s not a robot we want, but a pair of slick wheels for our phones.

If anything I just described sounds cool to you, I’m happy to introduce Looi, a very strange accessory that turns your smartphone into a “desktop robot.”

A Smaller Wheeled Assistant

According to Looi’s Kickstarter page — yes, this thing is crowdfunded, so keep that in mind — the tiny robot hooks up magnetically to your smartphone. For iPhones with MagSafe, the bot will connect automatically, and for Android devices, Looi comes with a magnetic ring.

Once it’s attached to the pair of wheels, it’s meant to function as both an assistant and a companion, using a dedicated app. The app uses a mix of computer vision (using your phone’s camera) and audio commands. That means you can strike up a conversation or ask the app to take a picture — you can even command Looi to “come here” and hope that it doesn’t spill coffee all over your desk in the process. There’s also a platforming game that uses motion-sensing if that’s your thing.

Looi is pretty ambitious for being a desktop robot.


On a more mundane level, Looi can also tell you the weather and show you when you’re receiving a text or a phone call. Think of it as a smart speaker with some mobility and a bit more personality.

Unlike bigger and more expensive robots like Astro, Looi is seemingly meant more for companionship than anything practical. Naturally, to make the robot feel more like a companion, Looi’s app integrates ChatGPT, everyone’s favorite AI chatbot.

In one way, Looi is pretty cute — who could deny those Wall-E-esque eyes? In another way, it’s also pretty creepy. If you feel like your phone is monitoring your activity already, putting a pair of cartoon eyes on yourself and giving them access to your camera probably won’t help matters.

Looi Price and Release Date

If you’re itching to get a tiny phone robot on your desk, you can pledge to Looi’s Kickstarter — the entry price starts at $129. If you’re comparing to other at-home robots, that’s pretty affordable, though I don’t think this thing is going to be doing your laundry or fetching you a beer anytime soon.

Looi’s Kickstarter says the bot will ship in August globally, but again, this is a crowdfunded project, so no guarantees.

Related Tags