Serious Child's Play

Pittsburgh's Bossa Nova is emblematic of the city's growing ability to nurture start-ups


Co-founder Palmer tapped into a business-support network to create Bossa Nova Robotics.

Bossa Nova robotics is a neat example of one city's transformation from 20th century industrial relic into a more entrepreneurial 21st century metropolis. It's a start-up specializing in robotic toys "designed in Pittsburgh, made in China and distributed everywhere," says co-founder David Palmer. Bossa Nova's babies are called Penbo and Prime-8. The first is a robotic penguin ($79.99) that needs some nurturing. It responds to touch and sound, and it has a penguin egg that pops out, makes sounds and communicates with its mother via a heart-shaped infrared receiver. Prime-8 ($99.99) is a game-playing gorilla that has what Palmer calls an...

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