The future is now closer with the reveal of Zenbo your personal talking, walking, listening robot companion from Asus at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan. Asus is a 414.4 billion dollar conglomerate based in Taipei that specializes in notebooks, netbooks, motherboards and graphics cards.
Zenbo is a cute little 2-foot tall bugger whose appealing persona, if you can call it that, reminds me of the Star Wars movie series droids. I’m sure that this isn’t just a coincidence. One of the problems of introducing robots into our society is that we’ve been conditioned from decades of low budget science fiction movies, books and comics where robots go amok and generally destroy every human in sight.
But not Zenbo. This robot is “friendlied” up. Thwe robot’s face is actually a 10-inch touchscreen with a sensing camera right above it. It’s large display shows information when it isn’t being occupied by Zenbo’s eyes and mouth.
Because the robot has sensors throughout its body, it’s able to avoid bumping into objects as it wheels around. It combines key features from a tablet, a smart home hub and a home speaker like the Amazon Echo into a single device that’s huggable and far more appealing than any similar robot rolling around.
Zenbo do as Zenbo does
Zenbo rolls about on 4 wheels, recognizing people and objects, it can move its head, and participate in voice interaction. It is able to learn because of integrated natural voice language processing that improves over time. Zenbo has a curious personality complete with cute blue cartoon eyes and a sweet, innocent voice. Think “E.T.” with microprocessors.
It’s able to adapt to personal preferences using artificial intelligence, “express” emotions with different facial expressions, and recognize faces. Additionally it plays music, controls smart home devices, and does remote monitoring,
According to Asus chairman Jonney Shih, Zenbo make’s a wonderful friend for children, a personal assistant to parents and a carer for the elderly — all for $599, less than the cost of a new iPhone.
Check out this video of Zenbo in action. And no, it’s not yet available on Amazon. I’ll let you know when.