MIT prof creates first family robot; sells 4,800 units

The robots of today can be a little bit underwhelming.

Mention robots and people think cold machines, mechanical movements, and rigid arms churning out consumer goods on the factory floors every second.

Military robots such as the Big Dog and Atlas, while encouraging, lack the human touch and civilian appeal, both of which they were not meant to be built for.

The smart home envisioned by many technologists is at best, still in its nascent stage, with smart thermostats (Nest) and robotic vacuum cleaners (Roomba).

Enter the JIBO, a mini 'family robot' equipped with artificial intelligence that can remind you about your appointments, read your messages, and even take photos for you!

Measuring 28cm tall and weighing approximately 2.7kg, JIBO is the brainchild of social robotics pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, who is also an associate professor at the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology.

Two hi-res cameras with facial-recognition and tracking technology allows JIBO to identify faces and engage in video calling while 360° microphones allows for all-round interactivity.

With two speakers as the mouth and artificial intelligence as the brain, JIBO is able to communicate at an emotional level.

The lynchpin to JIBO is probably its artificial intelligence, allowing the robot to recognise different voices and interact accordingly, such as delivering the right message to the right person.

The interactive feature of JIBO allows it to be more than a smart robot assistant. According to its crowd funding website on Indiegogo, JIBO offers 'companionship' through its smart features like storytelling, taking photographs for the family, and even ordering takeaways.

The makers behind JIBO has cautioned that while not all the skills may be available at launch, most of them will be part of its inaugural 'core set' to be released in 2015. 

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