BY SANDY STRASSER
Cute voice, smart design and equipped with a load of soft skills, this is Jibo. The mini robot reminds us a bit of the endearing ET, the only difference being that ET was an extra terrestrial and therefore a living being. Jibo on the other hand is fully automated. Nonetheless, he doesn’t appear to show any less intelligence.
Jibo is one of many projects that are aimed at making robots for use at home and not just in factories and universities, and it could definitely be a chance for a breakthrough in this field. The reason for this, is among others, Cynthia Breazeal – a real expert in the subject – who has dared to work in this field and become Founder and Chief Scientist. She was already very well known beyond the realms of the tech scene in the 90s because of a humanoid robotic head called Kismet. Kismet became a popular object with various different types of media and through this gained international fame. In 2000, research work with Kismet ceased and since then, he’s been functioning as an exhibit in the MIT Museum.
Her newest project, Jibo, is the first social robot for the home with very special characteristics, as far as can be said for an electronically controlled machine. Jibo is friendly, helpful and intelligent. He can feel, reacts to things that are said to him and learns from interaction. Thus, he reminds us for example of things we have to do, or appointments we have made and with this function, generally helps us to structure our everyday life more efficiently. The cuddly robot has two high-resolution cameras that recognise faces, can take photographs and make comprehensive video calls possible. 360° microphones mean you can speak to him from anywhere in the room and additional sound effects, graphics and physical movements facilitate a communicative and creative form of interaction. For all-round connection he also contains an integrated network that enables him to make contact with other mobile devices, computers and of course, other Jibos. This sophisticated technology means the likeable robot should be able to replace so-called ‘living-room technology’, such as the iPad in the future.
It is estimated that Jibo will be available in Germany from May this year. You can also put yourself on the waiting list on the manufacturers website.
“Creating a robot capable of navigating the social landscape of a home is arguably much more complicated than designing a robot to navigate the Martian landscape.”
Cynthia Breazeal, Founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q1 2016. Picture credit © Jibo