21.07.14

A robot helper for your home

AUTHOR: Inavate

Science fiction has been peddling the idea of humanoid robots for a long time. The concept has been a staple of many movies and books over the years. While robots and robotics in general have revolutionized industries and automation, their advent to the end user's side has been slow. Cynthia Breazeal, professor at MIT as well as founder and CEO for Jibo Inc is attempting to change that.

Jibo is an 11-inch tall, 6 pound humanoid robot that is targeted at the end user to be used as a companion. Jibo’s capabilities include seeing with the help of high resolution cameras, hearing with the help of 360 degree microphones and speaking with hands free reminders and messages. On top of these capabilities, the robot will also be able to learn and adapt.

With this list of features, Jibo can serve multiple roles. It can be a personal assistant and a messenger, for the household as it is able to differentiate between users and provide customized service based on this information. The video demonstration of Jibo shows it reading to a child, delivering messages to a lady and taking photos.

It is obvious that in its current iteration Jibo is intended to be a completely commercial product. But much like other consumer products, tablets for example, it is not hard to imagine its commercial applications. The main feature of the Jibo is the fact that it can gain information regarding users. Imagine a world where the Jibo serves as the control panel for residential or building HVAC, sees and ascertains whether the user is feeling cold and asks if they would like the heat to be turned up all on its own accord? Connecting to the wireless network is one of the basic requirements for the Jibo to function. When something is plugged in to the network, the possibilities for control and automation open up.

At present Jibo is still in the development phase. Cynthia Breazeal is crowdsourcing the project using the site Indiegogo. At present the project has 1,868 supporters and has raised US$874,362. According to the timeline the finished article will ship in 2016, which is still some ways away. Developers however can see how they can get their hands on a kit at Jibo’s Indiegogo site.