Wall-E, eat your mechanical heart out. A Boston-based entrepreneur has created a real-life, robotic personal assistant. And it looks pretty cool.
The device is called Jibo. It was created by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she founded and directs the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab. Jibo is intended to be a "family robot," able to take photos, remind you of important dates and events and, more importantly, interact with you and learn about you.
"The mobile computing revolution has paved the way for social robots to come into the home, both from a technological price/performance perspective and a consumer readiness perspective," Breazeal tells Entrepreneur.com. "People are already talking to their smartphones and computers. They are anticipating that social robots for the home are coming soon."
Sound a bit creepy? Sure it does. But take a look at the video below to get a better sense of Jibo's capabilities.
Today, Breazeal is launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in hopes of generating $100,000 or more to help get Jibo off the ground. Jibo Inc. was founded in late 2012 and has already raised funds from investors including Boston's Charles River Ventures and others.
"Jibo is a social robot that comes with a core set of skills," Breazeal says of the sleek-looking contraption, which stands at approximately 11 inches tall and weighs 6 pounds. "Jibo can perform these skills for you through natural and intuitive interaction -- speech plus other inputs such as vision and touch. Jibo learns from interacting with you in the context of his skills to personalize them to you. Jibo also can learn who you are by recognizing your face and voice."
So it talks, learns and comes with facial-recognition technology -- along with all the usual motors, cameras, microphones and speakers. Tech geeks are sure to rave. Others (those who are already freaked out about spying and the security of their personal information), well, maybe not so much.
The consumer version of Jibo will cost $499 and is expected to begin shipping to the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in late 2015.