Welcome Home Jibo; The First Social, At-Home Robot

Morgan Englehardt
Contributing Writer

From Siri to Cortana, artificial intelligence has become an important part of our lives. Now, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal wants to welcome the first home robot named Jibo who can socially interact with its owner. Dr. Breazeal started a fundraiser for Jibo back in 2014 and has raised over $38.6 million since. It has been stated that the first robots will be sent out in March or April of this year to those who preordered Jibo when the fundraiser was still open. A preorder cost $750 and was so popular, preorders were closed by August 2015.

jiboJibo is a small robot made to accomplish tasks around the house while interacting with children and adults. Jibo can create your schedule, make to-do lists and even take pictures at family events. Jibo can also answer questions when prompted. It can even read stories to children and make phone calls.

Dr. Breazeal stated, “Now that we have all this data, let’s focus on the experience and the human engagement.”

Jibo is meant to socialyl interact with everyone around it and is considered an “emotionally engaging machine,” according to Dr. Breazeal. The robot is supposed to be a social and personified version of Apple’s Siri.

However, Dr Breazeal’s robot Jibo is not the first attempt at a social robot. A company called Softbank in Japan originally came up with a robot named “Pepper,” which was designed to entertain people. The Blue Frog Robotics group in France also made a similar robot called “Buddy.” The French version, however, has wheels while Jibo does not. These are just two of multiple companies who have attempted to sell personal robots for the home. How will Jibo stand out in a crowd of personal home robots?

Jibo has already received positive reviews. Frank Tobe, from the Robot Report, says that Jibo will be a “gamer changer.” He attributes this to the company’s use of robotic engineering and inclusion of animators, speech recognition specialists and game creators. Jibo got more positive reviews after a promotional video  showing how the robot works was released. The video gave pre-orderers a show of what Jibo is capable of.

There have also been some negative reviews of Jibo, however. Time magazine has even dared to say they “wouldn’t know why you’d actually need one.” They stated that a smartphone could do what Jibo could do, but in a less expensive way. One of the tech writers at GeekWire said they wouldn’t dare leaving Jibo in his daughter’s room, due to the fact that Jibo has a camera installed in it.

With the number of preorders Jibo has received, at-home robots may become a norm in the modern household.