Designed to simplify life for your family, the Alpha 2 is the first humanoid robot for your home. UBTECH, a pioneer in robotics, created this 17” tall, 9” wide, 5 lb smart robot that can walk around, talk, and make gestures like a person. It’s almost as if Apple’s Siri came to life and is now part of the family.
Intelligent, Interactive, and Expandable
Equipped with 2GB memory and a six-core processor, this tech marvel connects to your Wi-Fi and uses facial recognition to identify family members. Claimed to be “smarter than your smartphone,” the Alpha 2 can be your personal assistant, home security guard, yoga instructor, nurse, or your kid’s tutor. Using Indiegogo as the company’s crowd-funding source, UBTECH has already raised close to $1.5 Million by its backers with a shipping ETA of Q1 2017.
With its built-in intelligent voice system, the Alpha 2 has chat capability, simultaneous interpretation, voice search, voice relay, gives verbal reminders and receives verbal commands. In other words, the Alpha 2 can have a back and forth conversation about the three-day forecast. “Don’t forget your umbrella, there’s a 40% chance of rain today.”
If that wasn’t human enough, the Alpha 2, with its 20 moveable joints (meant to simulate movements of the human skeleton), has a touch sensor, gesture sensor, and acceleration sensor. If your kids want the Alpha 2 to read “Little Red Riding Hood” as a bedtime story, the robot will not only narrate the story but will make gestures during the tale. As James Chow, UBTECH Founder and CEO so eloquently put it, “the Alpha 2 offers a brand new kind of interaction between human and computer.”
Compatible with iOS and Android devices, the Alpha 2 can be controlled remotely. So if you’re interested in connecting to your smart home while on vacation, the Alpha 2 controls appliances like lights and locks. It can even enable alarms and monitor your house. The Alpha 2 has an automatic control system (Digital Servo) operating its control board, gear set, and motor. UBTECH made the Alpha 2 programmable, which has been described as, “intelligent, interactive and expandable.”
Open-Source Operating System
With its open-source operating system, developers are encouraged to make improvements to its voice applications (VAPP’s), which can be purchased at the Alpha store. As it stands right now, the robot comes with a limited number of free core verbal skills. In order to boost its skills, a user would need to purchase additional features. Developers, therefore, are instrumental in not only customizing the robot’s voice capabilities; but more importantly, its technological advancement. Unfortunately, these apps will cost customers. The plan is to create a humanoid ecosystem allowing the Alpha 2’s to interact and share things with each other. Starting to remind you of Skynet in the Terminator movies?
Critical to the Alpha 2’s success is its open interface VAPP application development. Even though the creators claim the Alpha 2 is “smarter than your smartphone,” the technology is not yet superior to the thousands of available smartphone apps. In its role as a personal assistant, Alpha 2 is able to make calls, check voicemails, read and send text messages, operate the printer/fax machine, and even post to social media. Are we not able to do that with any of the office applications currently available on the market today? Granted, UBTECH offers the experience of interacting with a humanoid robot. Is it cool? 100%. A necessity? Not so much. It’s tough to believe that Alpha 2’s gesture technology, although innovative, is able to replace the contortion of an actual Yoga instructor, whether it’s a DVD or the real thing.
To be fair, the creators of the Alpha 2 were smart enough to build an open-source operating system. The survival of its technology depends on the development community. They also figure out how to monetize it by creating the Alpha App store.
Without question, the Alpha 2 is groundbreaking by introducing the first humanoid robot to the family. In order to truly “simplify life for our family,” the Alpha 2 has to provide services that go beyond what is already available on our smartphones. With the help of its developers, it may actually do so. We shall see.