I hope 2015 is going to be the year of personal robots. This is something to look forward to! Personally I’m already tired of this year being ’the year of the smart watch’ although Apple haven’t even announced theirs.
Personal robots at this stage seem to be more like a smartphone with a personified physical presence and seem to build on refined voice- and face recognition technology. It is the ultimate interactive ‘hands free’ experience and if it’s done well it can make life easier.
As usual, Kickstarter and Indigogo is the platform for this sort of innovation, since big technology brands are still more interested in selling outdated technology. We seen initiatives popping up like the Romo which is basically an interactive iPhone app on wheels for kids, and the high-end Pepper, a child sized robot that can recognise human emotions.
Today, we arrived to a nice middle ground with Jibo, ’the family robot’. The first initiative I could see going mainstream through it’s accessibility, open platform and straight-forward features. The designer robotics expert / super-cool person Cynthia Breazeal also managed to make it insanely cute! Kind of reminds me of a simplified version of EVE from Pixar’s WALL-E.
Jibo can see through two high-res cameras, track faces, capture photos and has an immersive video calling feature that takes the concept to the next level. Jimbo can hear everything. It’s sensitive microphones can pick up and process speech, wherever you are in the room. Jibo speaks to you, reads messages, notifications, works like a personal assistant managing your day. It’s artificial intelligence is able to adapt and learn, it communicates with social and emotive cues. Jibo seems likeable through it’s appearance and ‘personality’. Watch the video above to see how it works! I quite like the smart, flexibly moving structure and the expressive eye feature.
Working on a Linux based platform open to developers the potential there is huge. At a later stage it might connect to your home systems to adjust light, sound or control the temperature. It is already impressive how handy it is in everyday situations like ordering your groceries or takeaway food, read up a recipe while you are cooking, take great photos or look up the answer to your questions online.
Jibo is on pre-order for $499 and arrives by the end of 2015. The public release will be early 2016. I look forward to revisit where it has evolved by then. The future is here!