A big trend right now in robotics is what we call “social robotics”, meaning the emergence of robots capable of interacting with humans on a social level.
And the little humanoid Zenbo, designed by Asus for the general public, is no exception. Soon marketed at the affordable price of $599 /540€, (the price equivalent to a smartphone or tablet pro) Zenbo could become your first home robot.
Asus’ ambition (already a pioneer in the market of netbooks and 2-in-1 high-tech products): to enable robotic computing for every household and making this a habit.
Zenbo, half-companion, half-personal assistant, was announced by Asus late April 2016 at Computex, the largest high-tech event in Taiwan.
Complete and multi-functional, Zenbo is designed to meet the needs of the entire family, from younger adults to seniors.
As a 2.0 version nanny, Zenbo is able to read stories to children (from its built-in library), to play children’s favorite songs, to dance along to the music and to teach them new things through its educational applications that foster creativity and logical thinking.
As cyber-butler, Zenbo intends to democratize home robotics, by connecting and communicating with smart home devices.
Its functionalities allow him to control smart home devices, including lights, TVs, air conditioners and appliances (turns every appliance in the house on and off, unlocks doors and controls the air conditioner for example). Zenbo also acts as a remote-controlled home camera that covers the entire home, detects water or gas leaks, displays information on the screen and notifies family members if a problem occurs.
In personal assistant mode, Zenbo can take directions through specific voice commands, converse with human language and assist the adults with their home and work tasks. It has the ability to roam around freely on its own, can detect faces and follow you around the house. It can reply with answers to your questions or alert you with a reminder.
Zenbo’s face also acts as a touchscreen and helps you with a variety of online tasks, such as browsing social media, dictating or displaying the information on the screen, placing video calls, recording videos, taking pictures and publishing them directly on social networks. Zenbo also offers assistance in the kitchen with features such as recipes reading, monitoring and the voice programmable timer.
In the evening it will entertain the family with music, movies, and videos and in the morning it will act as an alarm clock and calendar for the upcoming events.
A companion of every moment for elderly people
The company’s CEO, Jonney Shih, emphasized the robot’s usefulness and reassuring presence for older users, by watching over them via its mobile camera, offering them spoken reminders, like doctor appointment and medication cues and providing easy social interaction, access to technology and cognitive stimulation. Zenbo will also be able to send emergency messages to family members if someone falls down and they can even take control of the robot and check the situation from Zenbo‘s built-in camera.
For now, Asus keeps the suspense going with no word on availability or worldwide release but you can already discover Zenbo in this video: