Guess with Zowi

Fortune-telling is the presumed ability of some human beings to predict and foresee the future. Some claim to do this using a crystal ball, tarot cards, or through palm reading and dream interpretation. The truth is, none of these methods give great results… Human fortune-tellers aren’t usually accurate.


But…what about robots? Can they predict the future?

Did you know…?

Throughout history, all kinds of weird and wonderful ways have been invented for telling the future. While some fortune-tellers insist on staring into a cheese or tossing asparagus on the ground in order to tell the future, others read the signs in old shoes or even underpants!

In reality, Zowi can’t actually tell us the future. Although it can do a pretty good job of making it seem that way!
We’re going to Reprogram Zowi to learn three new things and to show you how easy it is to “appear” that we’re predicting the future.


Unlike humans, in order to learn new things, Zowi needs to delete what it already knows to make space for new information: the new program. This is known as “reprogramming“. In this project, we’re going to reprogram Zowi to learn new things. When you do this, the functions of Zowi’s A and B buttons will change. When you finish the project, you can restore the original functions via the Settings and they will go back to working as they did before. You should also remember that while you’re using the app, Zowi’s buttons will be disabled. Learn more about Reprogramming Zowi in the “Zowi, the alarm robot” project.


Experiment 1

  1. Open the Zowi App and search for Guess with Zowi.
  2. Load the program by pressing “Let’s program!”.
  3. Close the app and press Zowi’s button A to enable MODE 1: Zowi Fortune-teller.

In this mode, Zowi will answer “yes” or “no” to any questions you ask. To do this, simply ask a question aloud and then tap it gently to hear the answer. You will see that sometimes it will reply and sometimes it won’t. Did it answer your questions correctly?

How can Zowi know these things? Could it be magic? I’m afraid not…
In actual fact, what Zowi does is reply at random. So what does this mean? Something random is basically something unpredictable… Zowi doesn’t really understand your question but it dares to give you an answer anyway …which could be anything! Even if it answers “yes” 10 times in a row, the next answer could be “yes” again.

Being able to program something random is really handy in both robotics and video games. Without the element of randomness, Zowi would do the same dance every time you played with it.

A real-life example of random numbers is a dice. A dice produces numbers at random because you never know how it will fall when you throw it. It will show a different number every time… it’s a question of chance! As with Zowi’s answers, a dice could fall on the same number 10 times in a row, although it’s very unlikely.


Experiment 2

With this new program, Zowi has learnt how to function like a dice!

  1. Press button B to enable MODE 2: Zowi Dice.
  2. Zowi will show a question mark and when you tap it on the head, it will show a number between 1 and 6. Now try doing this several times in a row!
  3. Now you can play ludo with Zowi!


Did you know…?

  • The opposite sides of a typical dice always add up to 7: 1 + 6 = 2 + 5 = 3 + 4 = 7
  • Dice used to be made from bones or ivory
  • To trick a dice, all you need to do is put more weight on the side opposite to the one you want it to fall on. This way, it will fall more times on that side. It’s a trap!


So what’s the use of randomness? For programming games of course! Now we’re going to use randomness to play a game with Zowi that everyone knows: Rock, paper, scissors!

Did you know…?

The first people to play rock, paper, scissors were the ancient Japanese feudal lords. They played this game, but they would use martial art techniques.

Experiment 3

  1. Press buttons A and B at the same time to enable MODE 3: Rock, paper, scissors.
  2. Once again, Zowi’s mouth will show a question mark, but this time, when you tap it on the head, it will show a symbol to represent one of the three possible answers:

    – This symbol is rock

    – This symbol is paper

    – This symbol is scissors

  3. Now play rock, paper, scissors with Zowi. You’ll have loads of fun!

As you can see, “random” mode serves many purposes. Can you think of another game you can play with Zowi?

Rules for rock, paper, scissors

In case you forgot, here’s a graph to summarise which symbol beats another:

To play against Zowi, you need to get your hand ready with one of the three symbols, which will be your hand’s answer. Then give Zowi a tap so that it shows a symbol at random, which will be Zowi’s answer.

By comparing your hand’s answer with Zowi’s answer, you will see which one of you has won the game:




You can always reprogram Zowi back to the original program. In the Zowi App, go to Settings and press the icon to Restore original functions. Underneath the name of your Zowi, you will also see the word “Modified” to remind you that you are not using the original program.
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Summary of new modes when the buttons are pressed:

Button A – MODE 1: Zowi Fortune-teller
Button B – MODE 2: Zowi Dice
Button A+B – MODE 3: Rock, paper, scissors