Pioneer of Social Robots and MIT Professor Cynthia Braezeal calls JIBO, “the world’s first social robot.” Designed specifically to help everyone out in your family throughout the day, JIBO is a three-dimension socially communicative device. This friendly, helpful, intelligent robot snaps family photos, acts as a digital concierge, reminds grandma to take her meds, reads a bedtime story to the kids, you name it. Since JIBO is a platform, there’s no limit to the skills a third-party developer can create. In other words, JIBO is a customizable robot with tons of upside.
Hoping to raise 200K in their initial crowdfunding campaign, JIBO, Inc. ended up with $2.3 million in backing. JIBO is very different than most robots mostly due to its humanized, yet distinct appearance. With a large blinking eyeball at the center of its HD screen and the ability to reposition itself, JIBO can recognize and track faces. He is also armed with two high-res cameras that can capture photos and stream emersion video calls.
So what makes JIBO so special? For one, the creators wanted to make a social robot that is not only intelligent and hands-free; but more importantly, a collaborative partner that fits seamlessly into a home. JIBO is really about using him for very specific things. Whether that is teaching you how to cook, making sure you stay on a very strict diet, or teaching your kids a second language. This is not a robot that does everything you command, which is a common misconception. Braezeal, when asked the reason for its creation said, “It’s a profoundly engaging medium for human interaction. Jibo is a technology that brings content to life in an entirely different way.”
JIBO’s timing could not be more perfect, according to Braezeal. She feels as if the mobile computing revolution had to happen first before the world could accept a social robot in their homes. “It’s now possible to build a sophisticated social robot at a mass consumer price point.” Adding to the world’s acceptance of an in-home robot companion is its ability to connect to all smart home devices. Whether it’s checking e-mail messages or placing an order for takeout, JIBO recognizes personal preferences for each user. That means he quickly becomes integrated into the family. JIBO communicates and expresses using natural social and emotive cues so you understand each other better. With a 360 degree microphone and natural language processing, you’re able to chat with JIBO from anywhere in the room.
As mentioned previously, knowing JIBO’s capabilities is critical to seamless interactions. Designed to bring content to life in the most collaborative way, the user needs to break down the barriers of using JIBO as a physical laborer and consider him a collaborative partner. That may be difficult at first but once he learns your unique communicating style, exchanges become easier. It’s not about asking him for anything but instead, working with his skills especially at first. Once JIBO’s skills (applications) become more and more advanced through its ecosystem, he will be able to grow as your in-home digital buddy.
Jibo is a piece of cake to set up:
Step 1: Connect him to your WiFi network
Step 2: Teach JIBO to recognize your face and voice
Step 3: Learn what you can ask JIBO to do (with the applications you have)
Step 4: Download the JIBO mobile App (Android & iOS) and connect to your mobile devices.
With an October 2016 ETA for developers and early adopters, the world’s first social robot is set to launch and start integrating with families across the U.S. There’s really no telling how far developers can take JIBO’s skills. One thing is for certain: JIBO’s ecosystem is an ideal setting for content creation. Does it have what it takes to make social robots an in-home staple? We shall see.