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The Voice of the Smart Home

Jibo aims to be a robotic Siri, only cuter

Michael Cruickshank
The Voice of the Smart Home© 2019 Jibo

In the last few days a device called ‘Jibo’ has been setting the tech world ablaze. Despite still being in a conceptual stage, and not being officially launched until at least 2016, Jibo has nonetheless managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars through crowdfunding, and attracted large amounts of media attention. But what exactly is it about Jibo that has everyone so excited?

Part robotic companion, and part voice assistant, Jibo markets itself as a “family robot”. While in the past, household robots (such as the Roomba) only were for simple chores, Jibo aims to provide “hands free” assistance to family members through voice interaction.

Part robotic companion, and part voice assistant, Jibo markets itself as a “family robot”.

Housed in a cute white plastic casing, the robot bears a passing resemblance to the Pixar logo lamp. Its hemispherical ‘head’ can swivel with three axis of movement, and is equipped with a digital display which uses minimalistic graphics to rapidly communicate information and ‘feelings’ to the user. This head, as well, will contain a face-tracking camera which is able to detect individual family members and respond to them in different ways.

As well as this, it connects to your home WiFi network, and acts a virtual assistant in a similar way to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. Jibo’s creators show it undertaking tasks such as helping a user with a cooking recipe, or ordering food online at request. In addition it can act an advanced form of telepresence, enabling someone from far away to video-call to Jibo, and control its camera/display head, allowing the caller to talk to multiple people at once.

Further solidifying the robot’s family credentials, it can interact with different people in different ways. To an adult it can be a useful assistant, while to a child it can act as both a friend and even an interactive educator.

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