May the robots be with you! That’s the saying, right? Next year, two robots will be available to buy (at an actual buyable price) that have striking resemblance to the early robots of the Star Wars universe. Meet JIBO and Pepper.
Still, C-3PO hasn’t learned to walk yet, so instead he glides like a floating mermaid. And R2-D2 can only move 360, although very awesomely, and look at his beautiful LCD face. What we have coming next year though are the very beginnings of a world that will see robot assistants in our homes and in our workplaces, that are able to do just about everything we are. Take a look at our article all about the upcoming robot revolution (opens in new window).
JIBO creator Cynthia Breazeal says that at ten-years-old, Star Wars shaped her perception of robots, “in many ways those droids were full-fledged characters; they cared about people. That was what, I think, really sparked my imagination.” She describes JIBO as the “world’s first family robot.”
There are mixed opinions though: Time magazine has questioned why you’d actually need one, saying it works just like Siri but with a better personality and slightly more functionality. Others point to the potential of JIBO, and how it can inspire future developments, acting somewhat as a stepping stone to greater things; a stage in robot evolution.
We will have to wait until 2015 to envision the potential, when it will be released to developers, who will be developing apps, and finding ways to integrate JIBO into our lives. Fingers crossed for apps that will connect with our Android based devices, our TV’s, our smart thermostats, and our smart LED lights. Of course though there will be no hope for integration with Apple devices, unless they buy JIBO’s company and keep its potential for themselves.
2016 is the year that we will see consumer release of JIBO (or perhaps even late 2015). Find out more on JIBO’s website.
“Jibo is almost like the meta of everything I’ve learned and all the insights I’ve had at MIT, and the huge need for technology to go beyond information,” – Breazeal
Here is Pepper, warning off the sith with his lightsabre. Ok, he is actually conducting an orchestra (training to fight the sith, I’m sure), Either way, pretty cool. Pepper is a humanoid robot, made by Aldebaran Robotics. What sets Pepper apart from other robots, and therefore makes him perfect for mass production, is his ability to read emotions. He is described as cute and kind – much more than a robot; a companion in life.
So the appeal is in Pepper’s ability to understand humans, and therefore communicate realistically and compassionately. Check him out in action in the video below
It doesn’t offer us help around the house – no manual labor or cleaning, but it definitely offers a glimpse into the sociable future of robots. On its platform, apps can be built to allow you to control devices simply by talking to Pepper. Maybe there will be an apps to connect it with Google Now and Cortana. What we essentially have is a walking talking smartphone, which has the added ability of providing a friendly and understanding link between us and our technologies. Just like with the endearing and friendly nature of C-3PO, Pepper will be preparing the world for the future of robots. Pepper is set for consumer release in 2015. Find out more about Pepper.
Along with JIBO, pepper will be laying the foundations of a middle ground – in the merging of humans and technologies. They are coming to say, “welcome to the robot future”. What then becomes interesting is, what’s next?