The age of robotic butlers and Jetson's-style automation is yet to be delivered, but the team behind Jibo believes it has a more relevant, usable alternative. A robot that integrates into the family, as well as one which could spawn a family of its own, Jibo aims to humanize domestic robotics but without dropping us into an Uncanny Valley of creepy pseudo-skin. I caught up with company founder and MIT robotics expert Cynthia Breazeal to find out how the Jibo you see today is the gateway to a life peppered with electronic companions.
Domestic robots have been attempted before, but a new company, Jibo, believes it has what it takes to deliver something more autonomous than a remote-control toy, but less complex and more affordable than something like ASIMO. Standing 11 inches high, the WiFi-connected robot can automatically snap family photos or video, work as a personal assistant with voice controlled messages and reminders, and read stories to kids.
Robots are all after our jobs! If you're not convinced entirely yet, then Japan's latest technological marvel just might. Japanese scientists have revealed to the public a new kind of eerily human-looking android that will be announcing news, arriving in real-time, in near pitch-perfect and fluent Japanese.
Research and entertainment robot NAO is getting faster, smarter, and strong: in fact, it's a good job he only comes up to your knees, as otherwise we'd be worried. NAO EVOLUTION, the handiwork of Softbank acquisition Aldeberan, takes the hobby-bot and boosts its awareness of the surrounding environment - including its emotion-recognizing abilities - as well as how well it can interact with it, thanks to things like defter hands.
SoftBank plans to sell an emotion-sensing humanoid robot, Pepper, in Japan next year, putting the sensor-toting 'bot into customer services duties in stores from this week. Expected to go on sale from February 2015, Pepper can track the emotions of the humans around it through their expressions and voice tones, and then react accordingly depending on what apps and cloud-data are available.
Come the smart home revolution, everything will have a brain, and the humble ceiling fan is the latest to get blessed. The handiwork of comically-named Big Ass Fans, Haiku with SenseME takes the ceiling fan and gives it LED lighting, WiFi, a smartphone companion app, and the ability to track temperature and room use and adjust itself accordingly.
A group of MIT researchers have set out to make you a bit more robotic, adding a few extra limbs along the way. Their design offers up robotic arms, which sit on your body like a backpack. The goal is not to take the place of your arms, or replace limbs in any way. Instead, the concept is to give yourself a helping hand with heavy lifting and the like.
Toyota is rolling out new versions of its assist robotics, updating its "bionic leg" and balance-gamification system for rehabilitation and testing them out in Japanese hospitals. The Walk Training Assist and Balance Training Assist hardware aim to help paralyzed or recovering patients to regain their mobility skills, and are now more responsive to different degrees of rehab.