Hands On With Jibo, The Family Robot

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Innovator’s Dilemma Is Real And Requires Bold Action To Overcome

While Siri and its ilk have gotten most of us used to the idea of talking to our devices, the current selection of smart assistants still feel more like tools than something with a personality. Jibo, a new robot from MIT roboticist Cynthia Breazeal, might be the gadget that finally changes that.

Jibo is designed to be a social robot that you interact with like it’s another person in your home. Hungry? Tell Jibo it’s time to order a pizza and it will go online to get your usual. Celebrating a birthday? Jibo can snap a photo of your daughter blowing out the candles on the cake. It also does the stuff you normally associate with smart assistants, like reminders or sending messages. They can also communicate with each other, so you can ask Jibo to remind your mom to pick up the kids and her Jibo will let her know the next time it sees her.

At least, that’s the promise. Jibo isn’t set for release until late next year, so many of the features aren’t in a usable form yet. As you can see in the video of our demo above, the current iteration can dance and introduce itself and that’s about it.

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Still, it’s a robot that looks like something out of Pixar‘s Wall-E and has a personality. That’s gotten a lot of people excited, with its Indiegogo campaign bringing in $407,000 with 30 days left to go, greatly overshooting the campaign’s modest $100,000 goal.

Those interested in preordering Jibo have a few options to consider. There’s a $499 preorder that gets you the consumer version in December 2015, as well as a developer edition for $599 that gets you the device a few months earlier along with access to the SDK so you can create your own features.

IMAGE BY Jibo (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)