I’ve always imagined that when robots became readily available and every home had one, they’d be of the Rosie variety from “The Jetsons.” Kind of a helpful servant that could do the dishes, walk the dog, and always have a snappy comeback.
Even though there have been great strides in Robotics these past few years, It’s looking like my idea of in-home bots might be a little far from reality yet.
Last July, Jibo showed up touting itself as the “world’s first family robot.” But it won’t whip up dinner, dust the furniture, or take the kids to school. In fact, it doesn’t even move. Instead, it sits on one of several charging pads you place around your home and does things like take your picture, remind you of appointments, and deliver messages.
Why is it called a “family robot”? Because Jibo has the ability to learn the faces of every person in the house and provide them with tailored messages and information. For kids, it can read stories complete with swiveling movements. It also uses a variety of algorithms to learn and adapt to the needs of different family members.
Jibo has a large black glass “face” that lights up with a circular icon that’s part eye, part mouth, and is really very cute. The body of the robot has sensors that can pick up your touch too, letting it react accordingly, like displaying a big heart on its screen when you caress it.
Jibo’s creator, Cynthia Breazeal says: “Jibo is the first in a new class of family robotics that will humanize information, apps, and services, and ultimately will help people and families affordably address fundamental human needs that require high-touch engagement for the best human outcomes like education, independent aging and health management in the convenience of their home.”
Breazeal has spent much of her career researching ways to make computers more responsive to humans and their emotions. Jibo is the result of that work. “We’ve achieved greatness in the computing and social-media revolutions,” she said. “The next wave, emotive computing, is upon us, and Jibo is a transformative social and emotive robot that will help people thrive as part of the family.” Breazeal will also be making a toolkit available to developers who can come up with even more fun and useful stuff for the 11-inch-high Jibo to do.
Currently, you’ll have to wait a few months to add another member to your family. Pre-orders have been closed for Jibo with the Home Edition going for $599. Currently the expected ship date is September 2015.
Visit the Jibo Website for additional information and to sign up for updates: