Whether it's a matter of price or functionality, robotic assistants have never really caught on. The Roomba is a genuine cultural movement, but no such luck for little bots with serious brains, the kind that sit on your desk, patiently waiting for you to come home, and ask about your day when you stroll through the door. Jibo could finally change that.
A promotional video shows it modifying takeout orders
The robot, which can be pre-ordered starting today, is ambitious. A promotional video shows it conversing with humans, scanning them with facial recognition, and even making (and then modifying) takeout orders by voice. Maybe it's partially the strength of that marketing, but Jibo looks like something out of the future that you'd actually want in your home. It's cute and intuitive, although expensive: $499 if you pre-order. (That puts it between the $2,000 Pepper robot and the $149 Romo.)
An impressive pedigree doesn't hurt, either. Jibo was created by Cynthia Breazeal, an MIT associate professor who specializes in personal robots. Jibo seems like a more consumer-friendly robot than some of the past projects she's pioneered, like the Furby-reminiscent Leonardo robot, but more importantly, a developer's kit version of Jibo will give people a chance to expand the robot's functions. Since the real test for Jibo might not be getting in homes, but finding something to do once it gets there.