Robots do everything from dismantling bombs to vacuuming floors, all in an effort to serve their human overlords. Now, automations have found a new purpose- being adorable and keeping their masters company on a cold, lonely night. Jibo, which has been dubbed as the "world's first family robot," is a personal assistant (similar to Siri, Cortana or Google Now) that looks like it should be starring in a Pixar movie.
Jibo is a social robot. It speaks, tells stories, feigns laughter and dances for your amusement. It also has an LCD screen that stands in for a face, and is able to express "emotions," especially when telling a story.
In a demo video, Jibo is seen telling the tale of the Three Little Pigs, displaying images from the story as he huffs and puffs in a deep, manly voice. It also does a convincing imitation of a living, breathing human being while having a conversation. Its round head moves to acknowledge the person on the other side of the dialogue, and then draws closer as if it's focusing on every word.
It also has more practical uses, such as setting reminders, ordering take-out and performing word searches. It can also take photos and videos on command and automatically focuses on faces just like a normal camera. The robot, which is 11.5 inches tall and weighs about six pounds, has three parts that swivel independently from each other, giving it the ability to move in a manner that is awkward in terms of positioning but smooth with movement. Jibo also comes fitted with a 5.7-inch phablet display. This means that Jibo's head doubles as a touchscreen.
"What if technology actually treated you like a human being... What if technology helped you like a partner rather than simply being a tool? That's what Jibo's about," said [video] Cynthia Breazeal, the founder and CEO of Jibo, Incorporated.
Brezeal, who teaches at MIT, previously created Kismet, a robot head that was designed for interacting with children. Similar to Jibo, Kismet also mimicked human emotions, and had facial features such as eyes and a mouth.
Currently, Jibo is only a prototype. Breazeal hopes that it would be commercially available by Christmas next year. However, people who want to get the robot early can sign up on Indiegogo for the "home edition," which comes to about $499.