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"Age Of Companion Robots: Jibo, Pepper And Now Buddy"
Age Of Companion Robots: Jibo, Pepper And Now Buddy
Jennifer Hicks CONTRIBUTOR
APR 25, 2015 @ 5:29 AM
An early stage French start up, Blue Frog Robotics, joins the list of growing robotics companies that wants you to have a companion robot in your home.
Their prototype robot, Buddy, soon to be available for “adoption” on Kickstarter, is being billed as a companion robot for kids, seniors or the family.
Blue Frog isn’t the first and won’t be the last. The French godfather of robotics Bruno Maisonnier, founder and CEO, Aldebaran, brought the NAO robot to market in 2006. This small, 22.8 inch (58 cm) humanoid robot will talk to you, sing to you or with you or just be your companion around the house.
Since that time, more and more companion or social robots have entered the space. One look at RobotShop and you’ll see 21 robots billed as companion robots.
According to a recent study by Business Insider, the consumer robot market will grow seven times faster than the market for manufacturing robots, 17% between 2014 and 2019.
Take the much anticipated Jibo created by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, who is considered one of the first social roboticists. Jibo is the companion robot that takes photos and videos and does some serious multi-tasking from being a ”hands-free” helper to an education and telepresence device and smart platform.
Jibo, a Boston-based company, had a successful crowd sourced fundraising campaign raising more than $2.2 million USD on Indiegogo in 2014. Jibo is expected to ship in 2016.
Boston has long been a hub for robotics in the US – from iRobot and Rethink Robotics, to Boston Dynamics (acquired by Google), Empire Robotics (Forbes: Sept. 2014) and 4Moms which raised $41 million in for its robotic strollers.
But most recently, there was the 48-inch tall Pepper, who will be able to read your emotions and then react according to your mood. Pepper is a joint venture with Aldebaran Robotics and SoftBank which acquired Aldebaran in 2012.
Pepper, listed at $1900 USD, listens to your tone of voice and reads your 🤬 expressions to figure out how you are feeling. Pepper is loaded with sensors, high-end voice recognition software and hardware, two cameras, Wi-fi and ethernet networking capabilities and double the amount of microphones on its head.
Back in France, the country has placed a strong emphasis on engineering and science education. Despite the country’s start up and funding culture challenges, start ups like Blue Frog, push forward looking to the first generation of connected device and robotic pioneers, Withings, Aldebaran and Parrot, who have gone global and mainstream to open doors and help put them on the global stage.
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