At Computex today, Asus revealed the Zenbo home robot. Kind of like Echo meets Keecker with a bit of Pepper sprinkled in the mix, it's been created to offer busy modern family members a helping hand with everyday tasks like keeping the kids entertained, controlling connected smart devices and providing recipe inspiration for mealtimes. The company also sees it acting as a remote guardian for the elderly.
The Zenbo is being pitched as an entertainment center, personal assistant and home automation controller. It's able to move around the home on its own thanks to large wheels on its sides powered by electric drive, or listen out for voice commands from its owner. For homes with more than one floor level, however, it might be an idea to check where the home bot actually is before calling out for assistance, unless a Zenbo rolling, bumping and crashing down the stairs is something you particularly want to see.
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When it's not displaying family photos or videos taken with its built-in camera, or acting as a touchscreen interface, its tablet-like display shows emotive expressions. It sports "high quality" integrated speakers for playing music or interacting with users, and is capable of recognizing natural speech and responding appropriately.
The Zenbo will be able to connect to home smart devices wirelessly – adjusting the air conditioner, turning lights on or off, controlling the family television, seeing who is calling through a front door cam and unlocking the smart lock remotely, and so on. Asus says that the home robot is able to learn and adapt to user preferences thanks to cooked-in artificial intelligence.
It could also announce appointment or medication reminders to seniors, and send out an SOS to a family member's smartphone if an elderly relative gets in trouble, and offer a live video feed for peace of mind comms.
When home-owners are away, the Zenbo's camera feed can be accessed remotely via a smartphone app. And the call has already gone out to developers to help expand Zenbo's feature set, by signing up for access to the free SDK via the source link below.
Asus hasn't offered any technical information on the robot at all, though chairman Jonney Shih did demonstrate a working model at a press conference in Taipei earlier today. The release date is also something of an unknown, but the price is something we can tell you. The Zenbo will cost just US$599.
You can see the cheerful home bot in action in the rather cheesy video below.