iReviews’ Top 5 Disruptive Social Robots

Deep learning robots, whether it’s Rokid’s Melody or JIBO, are designed to understand your family’s habits and preferences. Through consistent two-way engagement with each individual family member, the social companions are able to pinpoint specific content and lifestyle patterns. Simply put, they become smarter with more human interaction. This is the true essence of artificial intelligence and if programmed correctly, personal home robots can seamlessly integrate into the home and grow with your family.

The top deep learning machines have one common design feature: there’s no limit to the skills a third party developer can create. They are all fully customizable and their intuition depends entirely on creativity within an SDK ecosystem. Whether it’s learning a new language, connecting to smart home devices, or reminding you of upcoming Doctor appointments, the digital assistant is more than just a smartphone that can recognize your face, it’s a collaborative member of the family. The more skills it develops through daily interaction, the more helpful it becomes.

The world is now ready to accept an in-home robot companion. Whether it’s connecting to Nest Protect to activate your home security system or getting a quick weather update, personal robots become intuitive information portals. Because of disruptive technology such as voice and facial recognition, these social companions can interact with family members in ways that Amazon Echo or Google Home do not. They know if your daughter needs help with her French homework or if your cat is due for its next Rabies shot. Like most innovative technology, it’s designed to make your life easier.

Whether it’s dimming your Phillips Hue light bulbs or assisting with the latest Yoga routine prior to work, this is iReviews list of the top 5 most disruptive deep learning social home robots ready to hit market in 2017.

#1: JIBO

Pioneer of Social Robots and MIT Professor Cynthia Braezeal calls JIBO, “the world’s first social robot.” Designed specifically to help everyone out in your family throughout the day, JIBO is a three-dimension socially communicative device. This friendly, helpful, intelligent robot snaps family photos, acts as a digital concierge, reminds grandma to take her meds, reads a bedtime story to the kids, you name it. Since JIBO is a platform, there’s no limit to the skills a third-party developer can create. In other words, JIBO is a customizable robot with tons of upside.

So what makes JIBO so special? JIBO is very different than most robots mostly due to its humanized, yet distinct appearance. With a large blinking eyeball at the center of its HD screen and the ability to reposition itself, JIBO can recognize and track faces. He is also armed with two high-res cameras that can capture photos and stream emersion video calls.

JIBO recognizes personal preferences for each user. That means he quickly becomes integrated into the family. JIBO communicates and expresses using natural social and emotive cues so you understand each other better. With a 360 degree microphone and natural language processing, you’re able to chat with JIBO from anywhere in the room.

#2: Rokid’s Melody

Rokid’s Melody is a stationary family robot capable of omnidirectional voice recognition, facial recognition, and comes with a multi-dimensional interactive display that can show moving graphics like colorful album art. Similar to Amazon Echo or Google’s Home in its ability to integrate with home automation systems, Melody separates herself with a powerful voice and facial recognition technology. Melody, just like JIBO, has the ability to distinguish you from other family members and at the same time, can act as a hub for the Internet-of-things at home.

Honored with the 2016 CES Innovation Award, Rokid’s creation is a smart family technology device that delivers timely information and performs tasks whether it’s turning on your Phillips Hue smart light bulbs, adjusting your Nest Thermostat, or activating your iKettle prior to work. Rokid, Inc., the deep learning technology start-up, designed Melody to seamlessly integrate with your family and can say words she was never taught by patching together composite sounds. In other words, Melody gets smarter and more engaging the more she interacts with people.

With its patent-pending internal projection and visual lighting system, Melody’s miniature projector enables a “borderless” 3D visual effect for all functions. The creators combined innovation with human-like visual stimulation with pretty much all of Melody’s design features.

#3: Omate’s Yumi

Omate, the California-based hardware and software designer of IoT products, has created Yumi – the world’s first family robot that connects to Amazon Alexa’s Voice System (AVS). Whether you want a personal assistant, music hub, smart home control system or surveillance camera, Yumi seamlessly integrates with over 3,000 Alexa apps. As your in-home information portal, Yumi can provide you with real-time news updates, sports scores, weather – you name it.

From asking to shuffle a playlist from Pandora to requesting that the “heat be turned down by five degrees,” your wish is Yumi’s command. With five embedded microphones and a front camera controlled by a companion app, you have an instant home surveillance system capable of not only moving around your house but listening to it as well. Housed in Yumi’s tiny robot body are powerful wireless speakers audio certified by Arkamys – allowing you to crank a Spotify playlist or adjust the early morning traffic report to your listening preference. Capable of either connecting to your TV via HDMI or browsing the web, the only thing the Bluetooth compatible Yumi needs is a home Wi-Fi network.

#4: Vinclu’s Gatebox

Japanese technology company Vinclu created Gatebox – a virtual home 3D hologram robot that automates your life and is designed for companionship. Azuma Hikari is the character that lives inside Gatebox’s glass tube, resembles an anime character, and is connected to your home network. According to her website, she’s 20 years old and can’t stand insects.

Gatebox can be positioned anywhere in your house – nightstand, coffee table, kitchen counter, etc. and with built-in microphones and cameras, Hikari is able to recognize your voice and face when you walk in the door from a long day of work. “Hikari,” meaning “Light” in Japanese, is a fully interactive 3D hologram that controls your smart home gadgets. Whether it’s turning down the heat via your Nest Thermostat or dimming your Phillips Hue Lightbulbs, Hikari is there to help. Whether you need appointment reminders or the latest weather report, Hikari works just like Apple’s Siri except that she comes to life as a 3D character.

Gatebox’s Hikari only speaks Japanese at the moment and even though shipping is available in the U.S., once a pre-order date has been announced, Vinclu’s virtual companion is expected to fly off the shelves in minutes.

#5: UBTECH’s 2 Robot

UBTECH, a pioneer in robotics, created this 17” tall, 9” wide, 5 lb smart robot that can walk around, talk, and make gestures like a person. It’s almost as if Apple’s Siri came to life and is now part of the family.

With its built-in intelligent voice system, the Alpha 2 has chat capability, simultaneous interpretation, voice search, voice relay, gives verbal reminders and receives verbal commands. In other words, the Alpha 2 can have a back and forth conversation about the three-day forecast. “Don’t forget your umbrella, there’s a 40% chance of rain today.”

If that wasn’t human enough, the Alpha 2, with its 20 moveable joints (meant to simulate movements of the human skeleton), has a touch sensor, gesture sensor, and acceleration sensor. If your kids want the Alpha 2 to read “Little Red Riding Hood” as a bedtime story, the robot will not only narrate the story but will make gestures during the tale. As James Chow, UBTECH Founder and CEO so eloquently put it, “the Alpha 2 offers a brand new kind of interaction between human and computer.”

Final Thoughts

According to Pioneer of Social Robots and MIT Professor Cynthia Braezeal, the mobile computing revolution had to happen first before the world could accept a social robot in their home.

“It’s now possible to build a sophisticated social robot at a mass consumer price point.”

With that being said, social family robots need to separate themselves from the ever-growing list of smartphone applications that integrate all of our smartphone devices. The separation depends entirely on getting these social robots’ open interface platforms into the hands of developers.

Creators of the Alpha 2, for example, claim that its social robot is “smarter than your smartphone,” but the technology is not yet superior to the thousands of available companion apps ready to be downloaded on your iPhone. In its role as a personal assistant, Alpha 2 is able to make calls, check voicemails, read and send text messages, operate the printer/fax machine, and even post to social media. Are we not able to do that with any of the office applications currently available on the market today? With greater access to the wealth of Big Data information, creativity inside SDK’s, and groundbreaking recognition technologies, social robots will someday surpass the capabilities of smartphones.