Social Robot Could Enhance Family Life


JIBO is a robot that can relate to people and make daily tasks easier and more entertaining

Vashti Hallissey
  • 28 july 2014

Picture the scene: You get home from work and a friend asks how your day was, tells you about any messages that were left for you and, because you fancy a takeout, orders from your favorite restaurant which they happen to have on speed dial. But this isn’t your partner or the best housemate ever, it’s “the world’s first family robot.”

JIBO, created by Cynthia Breazeal, pioneer of Social Robotics and MIT Professor, is a robot designed take part in family life. What makes the Jibo special is that it can relate to people, understanding social and emotional cues and responding in kind.

On the JIBO blog, Breazeal explains what makes social robots different.

Social robots don’t just display like our screen-based devices and digital tools. They perceive the shared space around them so that they can respond to you — more like asomeone than a something. Because of this, social robotscan bring any content ‘to life’ in a way that is personally meaningful and emotionally engaging unlike any other technology.

JIBO stands at 11 inches tall, weighs around 6 pounds and has a swiveling circular head. Underneath its simple, rounded design is an extremely sophisticated machine which is able to recognize different people, use artificial intelligence to learn your preferences and identify voices with 360° microphones.

As JIBO is designed as a family robot, the emphasis is not on its technical specs but on what it can do for you. In the launch video and the highly successful Indiegogo campaign, which has raised over a million dollars so far, the Jibo Inc. team prioritizes the ways that it can complement family life.

The blog states:

As a platform for content – Jibo, the world’s first social robot for the family — enters the home bringing high touch engagement to high tech. It’s not just about what it does, it ishow it does it. It plays arole for you, it’s not simply a tool.

For example, with JIBO, no one has to step out of the frame to take group photos. It recognizes when people are smiling and can capture the moment, letting everyone enjoy the experience without having to worry about recording it.


JIBO can also tell stories and be an interactive study aid, using sound effects, graphics and physical movements to engage with the children or adults.


It can deliver voicemails and messages hands-free, give people reminders and make immersive video calls. The head can move around to focus on whoever the call recipient chooses.


JIBO would also be a good companion for older people who live alone, enabling them to keep in touch with their families and providing an intelligent companion to assist when needed.

JIBO is an open platform, which allows developers to add features to it. The team plans to ship the device to developers in the third-quarter of next year and to consumers in Q4. People who pre-order it now can buy it for the special inaugural price of $499.

Technology is often cited as making people more distant from each other. As people spend time watching their screens instead of communicating face-to-face, playing Candy Crush instead of having a conversation, this can seem to be the case. But JIBO Inc has turned this concept on its head, with a piece of technology that could bring people closer together. JIBO could improve family life by taking care of daily tasks and letting people focus on each other.


[h/t] The Next Web


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