Robotic Gadgets for Household Chores

Joseph Schlesinger, an engineer living near Boston, thinks robotic toys are too expensive, the result of extravagant designs, expensive components and a poor understanding of consumer tastes. So this year, Mr. Schlesinger, 23, began to manufacture an affordable robot, one he is selling for $250 to holiday shoppers.

His creation, the Hexy, is a six-legged, crablike creature that can navigate its own environment and respond to humans with a hand wave or other programmable gesture. Mr. Schlesinger said he had been able to lower production costs by using free software

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