A family robot sounds like an unfulfilled retro-futurist fetish. But actually owning one, after so many years when the entertainment industry offered us sketches of it, might be different. A family robot will probably not look like Futurama’s Bender. The first family robot will have a functional design. The age of robots already started, but people are more fascinated about the anthropomorphic ones, like the android developed by Hitachi.
This week, Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor at MIT, introduced Jibo, the family robot concept. On Indiegogo, the project already reached its $100.000 target. On Friday, it reached more than $600.000. Jibo is available on Indiegogo for “$99 now, $400 later”. The family robot will be shipped in December 2015. A developer option is available for $599 and a “Buy one, give one” for $799.
The first family robot will take pictures and act as companion
Jibo is eleven inches tall with a six inches base. The robot will support a whimsical approach, meaning that it will not resemble the human body. Social robotics means that the robot does not necessarily need to replicate human gestures. Cynthia Breazeal worked for a long time personal robots development. Replicating the human gestures would require far more unnecessary efforts. Why would we need a robot resembling a human? A question we should take some time to think about. “A social robot does not need to be humanoid or to locomote to engage people and bring content to life beyond flat screens. This adds a lot of unnecessary expense and complexity,” Breazeal revealed to CBS news.
Jibo is preceded by Leonardo. Breazeal developed Leonardo in collaboration with experts from Stan Winston Studio. Leonardo, a 2.5 feet robot was whimsical as well. To get the best out of the new technology, people will have to accept robots as creatures different from humans.
Despite its retro-futuristic appearance, Jibo will feature the most up to date technology like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The thing is that people already have access to devices with similar technology, the smartphone. Jibo will be able to act different roles. For example, the first family robot will take pictures of everyone, including the person who had to sit behind the smartphone. Breazeal asks for good reasons why the iPad was so successful if the smartphone had similar functionality. Jibo will act as assistant, storyteller, photographer, messenger and, overall, as a companion.