The world's first family robot
First, the bad news: The talking, winking, picture-taking, face-tracking, family-friendly robot companion shown in Jibo’s promo video might literally be too good to be true. The FAQ on the company’s website admits that “not everything in the video will necessarily be there at launch.”
But Jibo clearly has the potential to be one impressive little robot.
Standing 11 inches tall and with the proportions of a South Park character, Jibo is like an adorable, emotive version of Siri or Google Now. And a video conferencing system. And an automated home monitoring camera. And an interactive toy.
From his (yes, Jibo is “gendered male”) perch on a kitchen counter or living room table, Jibo can recognize different members of the family and give them personalized reminders and updates based on their calendar and messages. With a face-tracking camera and internal motors, he can reorient to follow an individual around the room, which is helpful for taking pictures (both automatically or by voice command) or enabling a natural kind of telepresence for video conferencing wherein the camera actually follows the conversation from speaker to speaker. And with sound and graphics, Jibo can provide a digitally enhanced storytelling experience for the kids.
Jibo’s face, a round bezel surrounding an HD LCD screen, displays an animated dot of color to represent the bot’s awareness and provide emotive cues like winks and laughter during interactions, which mostly take place by voice command. The dot also transforms into various icons as Jibo reminds you of your schedule, relays incoming messages, takes photos, and performs other tasks.
The developer say Jibo will learn your preferences over time and adapt to meet your needs. In addition to the core “skills” we’ve already mentioned, they see Jibo interacting with other connected devices using his built in Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity to provide full home automation functions. They also envision a vast ecosystem of developers creating additional software that will let users extend Jibo’s abilities. Like the Apple Store, the Jibo Store will be a closed ecosystem offering only those apps pre-approved by Jibo, Inc.
Becoming the Apple of in-home robotics is no small order. But if Jibo lives up to his promise, he just might pull it off.
Jibo’s Indiegogo campaign ends in just a few days on Sept. 4. Preorders will ship in late 2015, with full public release in early 2016. Visit myjibo.com or have a look at the video below to learn more.