Meet Jibo, the world’s first family bot

Turns out, your next family member may neither be flesh nor blood; it may consist of aluminum, plastic and microcontrollers instead. Created by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, Director of the Personal Robots Group at MIT Media Lab, the world will soon have its first family robot. Standing at only 11 inches tall and weighing just six pounds, Jibo makes quite a big impression.

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Stemming from her fascination with “Star Wars” and observations of NASA robots on Mars, Dr. Breazeal sought out to develop a ‘bot that could engage in human interaction.

Out of the box, Jibo has the ability to learn about those around it, recognize various voices and distinguish different faces. Designed to engage with people, Jibo takes on various roles around the house including mail deliverer, environment controller, storyteller, telepresence device, event reminder, and cameraman. Not only can it sing and dance, engage in casual conversation and complete daily tasks, its creator hopes Jibo can play an integral role in educating children, healthcare management and aiding the elderly.

“Jibo is this helpful presence that helps support your family, your human network, to be more efficient and feel more connected,” says Dr. Breazeal.

Jibo began its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo this past Wednesday, in hopes of reaching a $100,000. According to Dr. Breazeal, the crowdfunding approach is their way of getting feedback on the prototype from the most interested community of bot-enthusiasts out there. Well, it appears there are several as the project as already raised over $635,000 in a matter of days. The bot is currently selling for $499 to consumers and $599 to developers.

“Because JIBO is an open platform, his skills and applications will grow, helping and delighting in ways even we haven’t even imagined,” a rep shared on its official Indiegogo page.

As GigaOM notes”the startup would like to see developers pair Jibo with connected devices. A Nest thermostat would still do its job of tracking your patterns and adjusting your home’s heating and cooling, but Jibo would act as its face. Instead of programming the thermostat through your phone, you would just ask Jibo to take care of it.”

For those interested, key technical specs include:

  • 

Processor: High-end ARM-based mobile
  • Sensors: 2 color stereo cameras; 360° sound localization; full-body touch sensors
  • Movement: 3 full-revolute axes; high-res encoder; feedback control
  • Display: HD LCD touchscreen
  • Lighting: Full-spectrum ambient LED
  • Power: AC adaptor, battery-ready
  • Platform: Embedded Linux-based

If you’re looking for the newest (robotic) addition to your household, it looks like you may have to wait just a bit. Jibo’s slated arrival isn’t until the fall of 2015, more than a year away.

UPDATE: The Indiegogo campaign has now raised $1,194,282 in pledges.

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