Sunday, 5 February 2017


Robot Home Companion: 12 High-Tech Assistants Making Life Easier
By SA Rogers,
Web Urbanist, 1 February 2017.

They can’t quite measure up to R2D2, but a new array of consumer robots offer all sorts of practical advantages, including companionship, soothing babies back to sleep, playing with pets, folding laundry and making the perfect latte. All 12 of these robot home companions have passed the concept stage into fully-operational products, and many of them are already up for sale.

1. Cargo Carrier: Gita Bot

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From the same company who gave us the Vespa scooter comes Gita, a cargo bot that’ll carry your stuff for you, follow you as you walk, stop when you do, slow down when necessary and even keep up if you start running.

You could use it to haul groceries home from the neighborhood market, deliver packages or as a travel aide; a display screen lets you know when the battery is getting low. One thing that’s not clear is how it manages stairs. [More video]

2. Scooter Bot: Segway Advanced Personal Robot


Recently renamed ‘Loomo,’ the Segway ‘Advanced Personal Robot’ is a cross between a robot companion and a functional scooter, capable of recognizing individuals and following them until it’s needed. It’s able to stay in balance while carrying loads, and its microphones listen for voice commands.

Sensors keep it from bumping into objects and help it map your home and other surroundings so it can navigate itself. It’s currently still in development.

3. Cute Companion: Kuri Home Robot


The Kuri bot is a 20-inch-tall, 14-pound personal companion robot chirps that blinks and ‘smiles’ in response to your attention. It’s able to recognize specific people, understand context and surroundings, play music, read books, project video, tell you the weather and perform other useful everyday tasks.

The Kuri bot responds to verbal commands and can also be controlled and maintained through a smartphone app.

4. Pet Entertainer: Rolling Bot by LG


The Rolling Bot by LG may not have as much personality as the Kuri, but it’s got some seriously useful functions if you’re the kind of homeowner and/or pet owner who wants to keep a close eye on things while you’re gone.

The little bot is part security system, part pet toy, part smart home gadget with a built-in camera and the capability to roll itself through your home, turning lights on and off, sending you video footage, or entertaining your dogs and cats with dancing and lasers. You can control it through your phone to talk to your pets through it, too.

5. Highly Interactive: Pepper


‘Pepper’ will dance for you, make jokes, respond to your verbal and bodily cues with emotions, and can teach or demonstrate using the tablet strapped to its chest.

It’s not cheap, costing about US$2,000, but companies find it to be a valuable asset in attracting and selling to customers. Pepper made its American debut as a sales assistant in a series of California malls last year.

6. Grillbot Pro Grill-Cleaning Robot


One big benefit of having personal bots around your home is asking them to do your dirty work for you. The Grillbot Pro automatic grill-cleaning robot’s intensity level can be set between light scrub and deep clean, and it’ll find its own way around the surface of your grill, using a replaceable cleaning cartridge to eliminate grease and grime.

The Grillbot Pro will notify you with sound or a smartphone alert when it’s done, set off a ‘lifesaver alert’ if you place it on the grill while it’s too hot, and its brushes pop off and can be thrown in the dishwasher.

7. Laundry Helper: FoldiMate Folding Machine


This particular home robot looks like something that would have been cooked up by futurists back in the 1950s. The FoldiMate robotic laundry folding machine will de-wrinkle, soften, scent and neatly fold a basket of laundry.

The price will be about US$750 and it’s expected to hit the market later this year.

8. Nanny Robot: Mattel Aristotle


The Mattel Aristotle baby monitor does more than just let you peek in on your little ones when they’re in their beds. It’ll answer questions, order diapers when you run out, soothe babies back to sleep when they cry.

It’s a fully functional Amazon Alexa assistant with all the same smart home capabilities as the Echo, but instead of calling Alexa, you call Aristotle when you need kid-specific assistance. It’ll even check for deals and coupons on baby supplies, play games with kids until they fall asleep, read aloud from children’s books, sing to them and help them with their homework.

9. Buddy by Blue Frog Robotics


The ‘Buddy’ companion robot by Blue Frog is an attempt to soften the image of robots, making them seem cute and helpful instead of potentially catastrophic to humankind.

Buddy is also a smart hub robot with facial recognition capabilities and features geared toward kids, like games and songs, as well as medication reminders and fall detection for older users.

10. LG Lawn Mowing Robot


Husqvarna and John Deere have already made lawn-mowing robots a reality, and LG’s addition to the available selections just affirms that these automated helpers are more than just a novelty. The bot uses sensors and bumpers to stay on track in your yard, moving around obstacles, and there are no dangerous parts exposed if kids or animals wander up to it when you’re not looking.

11. Coffee Robot: Barista


Human baristas who make a living from their craft may not be thrilled with ‘Cafe X,’ a robot-operated café in Hong Kong that’ll soon pop up in San Francisco, too. The smart robot learns how to make drinks with the most exact proportions and methods possible for consistent results, maintains extremely high hygiene standards that most humans just can’t keep up with, and won’t upset anybody with a grouchy attitude.

Customers can order their coffee directly though an app or the iPad in the window, and it takes just 20 seconds to produce your beverage. It’s not hard to imagine this concept spreading to more cafes and eventually making it into private homes.

12. Smart Home Helper: Hub Robot by LG


A newer LG bot, the Hub, is a voice-activated assistant whose face is a screen, so you can read text or watch a video.

It runs on Amazon Alexa for its voice activation and can play music, read recipes or act as a hub for other smart home appliances.

Top image: Cafe X, the robot-operated café. Credit: Cafe X.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Some links added.]

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