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Jibo, the Family Robot

Touted as the “world’s first family robot” and looking more like a Cyclops than a machine, the latest version of a sociable robot has been described as ‘a desk lamp crossed with something out of Pixar’s Wall-E.’

Jibo is the innovative pet project of MIT social robot pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, who believes that the humanized technology in this robot has the potential to strengthen family bonds, as well as assist children with education and help the family with elder care. How?  Well, Jibo is designed to perform everything from taking photos, reading bedtime stories to reminding elders to take their medications. The article goes on to explain that this robot is advertised as an “attentive companion” for seniors and a “responsive playmate” for kids. Jibo even swivels to look at you when addressed; is that creepy or thoroughly modern?

According to Lance Ulanoff, Mashable“JIBO isn’t an appliance, it’s a companion, one that can interact and react with its human owners in ways that delight instead of disturb.”

What can it do?

From the Jibo website;

  • Photographer – High resolution cameras are equipped with face recognition and it is able to track faces, capture photos and enables immersive video calling.
  • Assistant – ‘politely’ reminds you of important tasks and events to help keep you and everyone in your household organized.
  • Messenger – recognizes each member of the family and delivers the right message to the right people at the right time and place.
  • Storyteller – sound effects, graphics and physical movements make a responsive and interactive storytelling experience.

And the best for last…

  • Companion – physical presence with helpfulness and heart! Jibo will make you smile and feel better.

See full article on Jibo from the Globe and Mail

In an interview for the article, Breazeal says “if you design technology to provide social supports, people actually do better… Social robots are designed around a principle of partnership and have real emotional value to people as part of family life. They play a role for you but they have autonomy, versus being a tool that you use.”

She continues,” The fact that Jibo is so obviously a robot and not trying to be a human is important because we’re not trying to compete with human relationships. Jibo is there to support what matters to people. People need people.”

And that includes elder care. Breazeal expressed the benefits of Jibo to busy families, and those sandwiched baby boomers that are taking care of their children and their parents at the same time. Jibo can provide elders with a companion, one that is interactive, organized and useful. Jibo can make video calls on demand to keep everyone connected, make medication reminders and store important information on voice command. “It’s the pro-active helping, that’s what’s so game-changing about this. I see Jibo as helping to support family connection in a richer way.”

Are you still unsure about this new family robot? Well, when they decide to combine the Jibo with the iRobot vacuum, I want one!

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