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Consumer Lifestyle
Published: 21 Jan 2015

Rise of the Domestic Robots

At last week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, US start-up Robotbase launched an artificially intelligent robot it claims can act as a stylist, security guard, personal assistant, babysitter and photographer.

The Personal Robot can link with any connected device – such as the Nest thermostat or a smart coffee machine – to become the central hub of a smart home. It also has a variety of "talents" – specially designed apps that can be installed to allow the robot to perform different tasks, from patrolling the house as a security guard, to acting as a photographer at a party.

Like Jibo – the world's first "family robot", which raised more than $2m in crowdfunding on Kickstarter in 2014 – the Personal Robot uses deep learning to get smarter over time. Both bots offer consumers a humanoid interface and contextualised, personalised responses – key attributes for successful consumer robots, according to global robotics company Aldebran.

Robotbase's sophisticated technology enables the robot to complete tasks proactively and with little supervision. For example, if the Personal Robot is reading a child a bedtime story and notices they are falling asleep, it can dim the lights and exit the room.

Robotbase says it deliberately refrained from giving its creation a humanoid name, as it wants owners to create their own identity for their robot.

The Personal Robot reached its Kickstarter target of $50,000 in just five days, and will begin shipping in late 2015, with a retail price of $1,995.

As the prospect of artificial intelligence (AI) draws closer, our electronics will become more personalised and intuitive, and more like people. For more on the potential of mood-reading machines, see Beyond Wearables, part of our latest Macro Trend Post-Digital.

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