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Brief Published: 23 Jul 2014

Jibo: Family Robot

Jibo: the first family robot

Jibo, the "world's first family robot", was launched on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo last week.

The robot can capture photos and videos, take video calls on its orb-like 'face' and notify you of emails and messages. However, what really sets Jibo apart is its human-like interface, which could be revolutionary if it works as well as advertised.

Jibo Inc., the US tech firm behind the product, is led by Cynthia Breazeal, a professor at MIT Media Lab in the US who has invented several products that aim to "humanise technology". She sees Jibo as a "helpful partner, not a useful tool".

Interaction with Jibo is purely conversational and visual: the robot uses high-definition cameras to track, recognise and respond animatedly to faces. It also uses voice-recognition technology to understand commands, which it responds to with artificial speech and a visual display.

It may be difficult for Jibo to follow the subtleties of human speech and interaction, but the company behind it claims the robot's cloud-based advanced artificial intelligence coding will 'learn' your voice and preferences over time to make interaction more natural.

Jibo's home applications might include helping children with their homework, being a personal assistant or providing companionship for the elderly. Jibo can currently interface with smartphones and computers, but once hooked up to a wider network of smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT), Jibo could serve as a human-like interface with the entire home.

Jibo is due to hit the market in early 2016. The consumer version can be pre-ordered for $499.