Perhaps the cutest robot to date

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Responsive and fitting into the home for multiple ages works. Cute makes it a ‘want to buy’. JIBO may not be the first operative ‘family robot’ (the EU/UK MOBISERVE/Kompaï companion robot [TTA 23 Aug 2013] likely was), it’s not child-sized like the ‘Robot’ of ‘Robot and Frank’ nor the mini-me of ‘Jimmy the Humanoid Robot’, but it’s got the Cute Factor in abundance. It’s a robot designed along the lines of ‘social robotics’ that doesn’t try to look humanoid. It stands at a non-threatening 12 inches high, suitable for tables or desktop. It’s white topped by a large orb serving as a screen that plays videos, reminders and teleconferences. It also speaks. But the big difference is that it responds to touch–dramatically. JIBO moves like a dancer and its ‘face’ follows you. Its response is framed in a companionate way and it’s not a toy–it also does practical things like deliver messages and two-way conversation. It’s easy to think of this not only as a natural companion and connector for various ages in a home, but also where someone lives alone.  The development team headed by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is delivering this at an attractive price point–$499 for a December 2015 delivery. It’s flown past its $100,000 Indiegogo goal (currently past $500,000) which is a gauge of its appeal. Can you, our Reader, imagine this in your home? Glowing article in Mashable, YouTube video), an grumpy review in Time (which maintains that wearables and smartphones are far more practical. No, it’s not The Gimlet Eye freelancing!)

Categories: Latest News.


  1. The only thing making this a robot is that the inventors decided to call it one — if it doesn’t move from the table on which it is placed, then it is a funny-shaped telepresence (teleconferencing) computer with facial recognition. vGO more useful because it can be remotely directed and moves on wheels. iRobot moves — and your floors are vacuumed.

    And let us reflect back just a bit at breathlessness from the media. This search on just my own website for items tagged as ‘robotics’ has 51 items going back to 2009.

    They are going to be smaller, cheaper, more useful, provide care, solve the Japanese caregiver ratio problem, be ready in just a few years, help us with everyday tasks. Not quite yet — always just ahead, like Jibo, available at the end of 2015, and seriously, taking orders now? For what — a pet rock?

    Meanwhile, what really happened is phones and tablets became ubiquitous, have cameras, can remember stuff, have facial recognition and cost little. Yay!

  2. Donna Cusano

    JIBO and vGo can’t be compared because they are two different types of robots–popular versus professional. JIBO is to my knowledge the first robot designed as a ‘social robot’–to have physical response along with function, yet not to be humanoid. The developers didn’t say this, but it’s like a pet which can also do all these telepresence things, thus non-threatening. You want to touch it, talk to it to see how it will respond and what it will do. Contrast it to vGo–a 4′-5′ duty robot with a tablet ‘face’ for professional use in work environments like hospitals. I had the experience of being followed around by them near their booth on the ATA show floor, and frankly it was kind of creepy–like a giant telescreen with someone else’s face on wheels. vGo has a place in remote telemedicine and (unexplored) education, but it’s not meant for the home. And there’s a big price differential: $500 versus $6,000.

    It’s like the early discussion around tablets. Why get an iPad or tablet when you can get a laptop for the same price and it does more? Yet it created an entire new market. (Hey, remember netbooks? Yet their central idea of portability and lightness (and not having DVD drives) prepared the way for tablets.) I expect that JIBO will be the first of many.

    I agree with you re smartphones/tablets having many or most of the same capabilities, but you have to poke at or swipe them–or program them with speech. They are ubiquitous, thus a little ordinary, and no one thinks of them as a friend or cute. If JIBO does what it says it does, it’ll have a niche, perhaps a faddish one, but it’ll be the first introducing not-so-simple robotics in the home.

    Care and assistance robots (e.g. lifting) are another development track, one which seems to be foundering on cost factors, functionality and staff acceptance. Like you I am discouraged here but what’s been seen are less robots than single-function units with high upkeep. Developments in exoskeletons for assistance such as ReWalk and Ekso are encouraging but still a long way from becoming the vision of ‘put on this suit and you’ll walk like you’re 35 again.’