Jul 22, 2014 07:56 AM EDT
The future of robotics might lay in the hands of a more human friendly thinking-feeling robot.
Meet Jibo, the new human friendly robot that was unveiled last week via online crowd funding. Its creators boast that Jibo can do much more than a tablet or smartphone can, it is in fact a "social" robot.
With this "social" robot, as the makers calls it, the user can interact with it by talking to it, asking it questions, making requests, and setting up calendar meetings. Better still, Jibo can talk back, and communicate answers, and it can set up your appointments for you, Wired magazine reported. Jibo is similar to Siri, Google Now or other voice-activated systems, but it can do much more.
Jibo is not like a press-and-go machine, however; it is involved with one's day-to-day activities. Its design is meant to make it feel more like a robotic assistant and helper, than a fancy sophisticated electronic device. Jibo has a big circular head, and what looks like a face moves around the room when you are speaking and interacting with the machine, Wired magazine reported.
Do not be afraid, Jibo is not going to go all Terminator on the human race. It is a foot tall with a bulbous body that can swivel, so that it moves and reacts to whomever is talking. Jibo even leans in a bit to face the speaker as if it is listening to you, Wired magazine said. Jibo perhaps looks something like the lamp from the Pixar opening movies that jumps on the ball.
At the moment, Jibo is only a prototype. But its makers, which include founder Cynthia Breazeal, the director of M.I.T. Media Lab's Personal Robots Group, are hoping to sell it to the mainstream as soon as the 2015 holiday season.
This new generation of artificial intelligence (A.I.) is designed also to be part of your home. Jibo's other cool function is that it has a cloud platform, where one can store family photos, etc., TechCrunch reported.
Jibo has spent decades in the making. In the 1990s, when Breazeal was a graduate student at M.I.T., she studied with roboticist Rodney Brooks, and it was there her idea grew to create "social" robots, The New York Times reported. By 2012, Brooks had begun selling something that looked like a stationary robot named Baxter. At the time, Baxter was expensive because it had a LCD-panel face that could interact with human workers in industries related to manufacturing and logistics.
Jibo or robotics is not the first time for Breazeal, however. She is best known for creating the robot head known as Kismet back in the 1990s. Kismet was perhaps the first "talking head" that contained actuators, sensors and computer technology that could make it realize, and connect with humans, but to mainly infants and young children, The New York Times reported. It also had eyes, ears, and a mouth; it was very expressive which gave it the ability to imitate human emotions.
Jibo might be Breazeal's second act at taking Kismet a step further. With Jibo, Breazeal will not be alone in the A.I. robotics market. Between 1999 and 2006, Sony sold the a robotic home pet name Aibo. Last month, Softbank, a Japaneses consumer electronics firm, said they will bring their robot Pepper to the market; Pepper is a four-foot-tall, 65 pound robot designed for the home, it has the ability to read human emotions, The New York Times reported.
Pepper is expected to cost almost $2,000.00. When it comes in December 2015, Jibo's prices vary: the Jibo "Home Edition" costs $499.00; and the "Developer Edition" costs $599.00. It has been reported that the makers want the consumer version to be available for Dec. 2015, and the expected price is $499.00, The New York Times reported.
Pioneers like Breazeal and Brooks, and these other companies that are going to bring "home" robots to the mainstream culture, will have some technical obstacles to face.
Tandy Trower, an engineer who led Microsoft's robotics group and most recently founded Hoaloha Robotics (an elder care robotics system for the home), says that the robot has to be able to "replicate human interaction not just for a few hours, but day after day," The New York Times reported.
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