Friendly family robot Jibo is coming in 2016 (Wired UK)

JIBO: The World’s First Family RobotJibo The World’s First Family Robot

Jibo, your family’s first robot friend and personal assistant,
is obviously in demand. Just two days into its Indiegogo crowdfund launch and it has raised more than $500,000
(£390,000) — $400,000 (£230,000) more than it was asking for. The
key to its explosive success? For one thing, it has been created by
MIT Media Lab’s Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor of media
arts and science. Then there’s its cute demeanour and whimsical

“Jibo is a very different concept of a personal robot where the
focus is on human engagement and bringing content, apps, services
‘to life’ beyond flat screens,” Breazeal tells us. “Most of
robotics views robots as a labour technology rather than a
technology for human engagement and empowerment around family.”

Hence in the video for the crowdfunding campaign — which seeks
to bring the friendly guy to market in 2016 — Jibo is seen reading
(and animating) stories to a young girl, letting a mum busy cooking
know who’s messaged her, and swinging into action to take a family
photo as soon as he’s been verbally instructed to.

Breazeal has been working on the robot since 2012 with her team,
iterating on the protoypes. She believes they are now far enough
along to get the developer community onboard. This is why two of
the funding options come with a developer’s kit as a “perk”. The
Jibo developer edition, expected in the third quarter of 2015,
comes with the JiboAlive SDK and early access to the JIbo store.
For $5,489 (£3,210), a bidder will get the 11-pack research
developer kit, snagging a Jibo for a team of 11.

For now, contributing $499 (£290) to the crowdfund will reserve
you one of the robots, but when they come to market Breazeal says
they will be pricing it as a high-end tablet computer.

The Wi-Fi connected, Linux-based helper comes with a “core set”
of six skills, for now. These include: assistant to help with
reminders, messenger to help deliver messages to people in your
family, cameraman, storyteller, companion and telepresence avatar.
Developers can of course expand on these in the future, and each
Jibo can be connected with others, as well as household devices.
“You can coordinate with Jibo and friends/family wherever you are,”
Breazeal tells us.

The video, however, does over-promise somewhat. “Not everything
in the video will necessarily be there at launch,” the Indiegogo
blurb admits further down the page. Breazeal does say that its
three-axes movement is impressive though, adding “you should see it
dance”. When pushed to explain exactly where the robot is at now in
terms of functionality, Breazeal said: “Jibo’s skills are presently
in various levels of development right now as prototypes.
Much of the core tech exists and we will continue to
refine and develop according to our development plan.”

With the developer community onboard, however, she is adamant
that the Jibo we see on the pitch video, is possible. “Robotics is
a systems integration challenge,” she says. “And we are bringing
together technologies that typically do not come together. This is
why we have a uniquely qualified, stellar team with the distinct
set of skill sets and experience to make Jibo a reality. And we
want to grow a strong Jibo developer community so that we can
empower others to help make the personal robots revolution

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