Meet JIBO, The Adorable Social Robot Who's Hoping To Become Part Of Your Family
So it's begun. We're one step closer to the robot takeover, but maybe there's no need to panic just yet. Meet JIBO, a social robot that wants to be part of your family. If you're like me, then any mention of the word robot sends chills down your spine, but upon closer examination, it looks like JIBO is harmless. Okay, maybe he's even kind of cute.
Created by social-robots pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, JIBO is a talking, moving, artificially intelligent device with an animated screen for a face. Breazeal created JIBO to bridge the gap between humans and technology in a totally groundbreaking way. "What if technology treated you like a human being?" Breazeal asks in a video introducing JIBO. "What if technology helped you to feel closer to the ones you love? What if technology helped you like a partner rather than simply being a tool? That's what JIBO's about."
I know what you're thinking: "I don't need technology to treat me like a human being — that's how the robots get you!" But before your thoughts turn to ominous images of robot slave drivers, give JIBO a chance.
Unlike the usual robot stereotype, JIBO is not rigid, monotone, or made of all right angles. And this is my favorite part: it's not at all attempting to be humanoid. (There's nothing worse than a robot that lives in the uncanny valley.) Instead, JIBO is simply made up of a round head on top of a cylindrical base, kind of like a desk lamp. Its movements are fluid (the head can rotate a full 360 degrees), its voice is friendly, and though it can engage well with humans, it's not trying to be one of us.
"It's a robot, so let's celebrate the fact it’s a robot," Breazeal told Mashable.
And as it advertises, JIBO wants to be a contributing member of your family, which means not only helping around the house, but also interacting with you with emotional intelligence. I'm not going to lie: I've tried to talk to my Roomba before, but every conversation was one-sided.
In the introduction video, JIBO lives with a typical American family and is shown helping out in ways that your little brother never did. Take a look at all the things that make JIBO a welcome addition to any family — and totally not a threat to the future of the human race.
It's the Ultimate Digital Camera
JIBO takes pictures for you better than any digital camera or iPhone. Its facial recognition technology follows family members around and takes snaps in real time, so every human can be in the picture rather than in charge of documenting the action.
It's Like a Personal Assistant
When it comes to receiving and sending messages, JIBO blows Siri out of the water. JIBO will let you know when a new message comes in and read it to you without being prompted. It even politely says, "Excuse me" so it's not interrupting you. And while it can't physically go out and retrieve a latte for you, it can order takeout for you and stores your favorite cuisines in its memory.
It Acts as a Mobile Screen For Video Calls
How annoying is it when you're Skyping with your family and only one full face is within frame while Grandma and Grandpa are just the tops of their heads? Well JIBO can act as a moving screen that pans around the room to reveal everyone, but not like an electric fan. It actually knows to swivel its head to show whoever is speaking, just like a human would.
It Provides Endless Entertainment
Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of JIBO is its emotional intelligence. This little bot actually has a sense of humor and a personality. Through interactive applications, JIBO can tell bedtime stories or teach educational lessons, proving that it's great with kids. It even responds to your touch, so when little Julie in the video says goodnight and pats its face, it shows a heart on its screen.