Yes, It’s True: Sophisticated Robot Companions Have Arrived

We’ve been waiting for robots to do our everyday chores ever since the Jetsons introduced us to Rosie the Robot Maid in the 1960s. We are not quite there yet, but one thing is clear: we are getting close. 

With artificial intelligence becoming more prevalent in this modern day, we humans are welcoming the idea of letting robots into our homes. Consumers are embracing the idea of investing in this technology to not only help us make life better, but to also improve our overall well-being. It’s a hard notion to argue when you think about all the things that robots have been created to do. Robots are already being used for manufacturing, automation, medical procedures, and for assisting in combat. But now a significant number of manufacturers are creating these devices for the home and office, developing robots that can help people with their daily lives. Androids, for example, have been designed with very human qualities. It’s not surprising that some have chosen them as replacements for companions and some clinicians have even suggested them as caregivers. An android can mimic such a lifelike appearance with automated movements that it may seem to convey a sense of responsive intelligence or even appear to possess thoughts of its own.

But let’s dial it back a little and look at what is becoming available to us in the common marketplace. Let’s take a look beyond the home assistant systems like Amazon Echo and Google Home, focusing instead on fun, interactive, and adventurous robot helpers.

Jibo

 

Jibo made headlines back in 2014 and raised over $3 million US dollars from excited backers. Developed by MIT founder and chief scientist Cynthia Breazeal, Jibo was announced to the press as the “world’s FIRST social robot.”

Despite the multiple cameras around its face and a body littered with sensors and speakers, Jibo is a non-threatening, white shiny cylinder with no legs and a head that can move so naturally, it looks like that of a lively cartoon character. Behind his circular black face, a single white orb moves around the screen, blinks, and smiles at you. When Jibo speaks to you in his toddler boy voice…you just can’t help wanting to play with him.

Powered by face and voice recognition technology, Jibo remembers people and builds real relationships with everyone he meets.

Sphero BB-8

This Star Wars-inspired droid is app-enabled and also changes personality as you play. With this adaptive personality, BB-8 will exhibit a range of expressions and even perk up when you give voice commands. Set it to patrol and watch your droid explore autonomously, make up your own adventure and guide BB-8 yourself, or create and view holographic recordings.

 

Kuri

Kuri is the perfect home roving robot with a lovable personality. Kuri is instantly likeable and acts as your home assistant, companion, photographer, eyes and ears when you’re not home, and much more.

Kuri was created by the Bosch-backed startup Mayfield Robotics. It can act as a security camera, set reminders, and use its Wi-Fi connection to tell you about the weather. It’ll also work with IFTTT, the online rule-maker with a ton of smart home partners, to control some connected devices. Kuri can recognize faces and context, and adapt its responses accordingly. These responses include chirps and nods; Kuri doesn’t talk, though it will play podcasts, music, and tell stories.

Cozmo by Anki

Anki, renowned for its high-tech remote control race cars, released a palm-sized robot companion called Cozmo. This pint-sized gem is as adorable as it is intelligent. It rolls around on its tank treads, using its arm to interact with the environment and a built-in camera to recognize you or even your pets. With its playful and functional design, it offers a wide selection of games and is smartphone compatible.

Leka

Leka is a social and interactive robot designed for children with special needs, such as autism and other developmental disabilities.

Leka is a tool for parents and therapists to support education in an easier, more efficient, and more constant way. Leka is an interactive and multi-sensory smart toy, offering children with special needs the ability to play fun and educational games that motivate social interactions and stimulate autonomy, as well as increase motor, cognitive, and emotional skills.

Based on papers published in peer reviewed sources, Leka has been developed hand-in-hand with parents, therapists, and caregivers to aid in a variety of settings. From the office to schools to home, Leka is making therapy easier, more efficient, and more accessible.

Robots Will Change The World

While the increasing presence of robots in our lives may feel unnerving—consider, for instance, Sophia, the first AI robot to actually become a legal citizen—there are endless advantages to consider. Robots can change the way we interact with our environments, learn, work, store information, travel…and this is just the beginning. With rapid-fire advancements in technology, there is no telling exactly where the coming years will take us in terms of an AI-integrated society, but one thing is certain: the robots are here, and they’re here to stay.

 

 

 

 

Kate Shelton
Kate has led a diverse career in both the arts and business management. From dancing with the prestigious National Ballet of Canada to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at Ryerson to then taking on the entrepreneurial role of running a small business, Kate’s wide range of experience has allowed her to develop a keen eye for art and design. As an avid Crossfitter, Kate has a true appreciation for leading an active, healthy lifestyle. She currently lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and their wonderful son.