You Have To See This Robot For The Home That An MIT Professor Started Selling Today

Renowned roboticist Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is announcing a social robot for the family called Jibo (pronounced jee-bo) and it’s available for pre-order now.

A social robot is simply one that’s designed for interacting with people and meeting their needs. Jibo’s physical appearance and movements are vaguely reminiscent of Luxo Jr., the famed Pixar lamp. Its “head” is a display with embedded cameras so that it can perceive its environment, and its segmented body animates itself by way of three swiveling sections. It reeks of adorable appeal.

Jibo doesn’t have any mobility or manipulation capabilities — it can’t pick up dropped items and you’ll need to physically move it from place to place — but Dr. Breazeal told us that this is a very intentional design for keeping its price point low. Mobility and manipulation are among the more complex parts of robot design, and a functional stationary robot may help set the stage for a time when people welcome autonomous mobile robots into the home with open arms.

Jibo runs a Linux-based system to facilitate some cool at-home capabilities. You can check them out in the video above (along with a comment from Dr. Breazeal) for more on this, but the highlights are below. Developers are also welcome to get in on the action to create Jibo apps (which are called “Skills”).

Jibo pre-orders start at $US499. Developers can order the developer package for $US599, which comes with the JiboAlive Pro SDK and access to the Jibo Developer Program. Much more on that at Jibo’s site.

Jibo can recognise faces and track you with its camera as you move around to take a well-framed picture.

It works with reminders, too — here a woman is reminded that someone is coming by in 30 minutes to go grocery shopping with her.

Jibo’s an entertainer too. It can perform stories for kids.

And that face-tracking capability comes in handy for its telepresence abilities. People conferencing via the tablet app can select which person they’d like to follow and interact with.

Jibo will interface with your house as well. Here’s a dashing lad getting a voicemail from his beloved.

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