Despite its chatty demeanor, Amazon's Alexa personal assistant has, up until now, remained faceless. That has now changed courtesy of a family focused robot by the name of Yumi, which manufacturer Omate claims is the first robot to be powered by the artificial intelligence platform.
Yumi stands 11.7 in tall, 6.9 and 6.4 in along either side (29.5 x 17.5 x 16.2 cm) and features a rotating head up top and wheels down below. It is powered by Alexa, the brains behind the Amazon Echo and its related devices, but runs Android too, allowing users to pull up apps on the robot's face that doubles as a display (though much of that functionality can presumably be achieved hands-free using Alexa's voice control functionality).
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The device is powered by a 1.3-GHz quad-core ARM Cortex processor and runs Omate's Robotics Artificial Intelligence (ORAI 1.0) operating system, which is built upon Android. With access to more than 3,000 Alexa skills, users can ask it about the weather, news, traffic or a Wikipedia entry, as well as use services like Uber to book cars, Hive to control their smart home devices and Spotify to listen to music.
An ARM Mali graphics chip is employed to run a 5-in HD 1280 x 720 capacitive touchscreen display, which can be used to browse the web, watch videos and play games. The display is accompanied by a front-mounted camera for making video calls, dual stereo speakers and five embedded microphones that allow the Yumi to pinpoint where a voice is coming from and turn its head accordingly. The camera can apparently be accessed remotely from an accompanying mobile app to see what's going on in your home.
There's 1 GB of on-board memory and 8 GB of storage. Connectivity comes in the form of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as USB and HDMI ports, the latter of which means you can connect the device to a TV. The whole thing runs on a 3,500 mAh battery, which is smartphone territory, though there is no word yet on how long Yumi will run on each charge.
It must be said, Yumi does appear to be little more than Alexa with a face. Judging by the announcement, neither the Alexa or Android platforms appear to gain a great deal by virtue of being deployed as the Yumi robot, but having both baked into the one device may prove useful. What other functionalities will the mobile app allow for? Will its wheels be used for autonomous movement? Does Alexa run constantly or does it need to be launched from the Android OS?
Omate will look to raise funds on Indiegogo for the Yumi beginning on November 15th, and perhaps these kinds of details will emerge as the campaign kicks into gear. Pledges beginning at US$250 will be rewarded with one of the robots, assuming all goes to plan. Otherwise, the device is expected to be made available for a cost of $599 in the third quarter of next year
The video below provides an introduction to the Yumi.