An invisible robot invasion in our homes

Kuri, a loveable robot that communicated through beeps like R2-D2, passed away last month: Mayfield Robotics, a unit of Bosch, killed the project just as the first machines were due to ship. Jibo, which has been billed as “the world’s first social robot for the home”, may also not have much longer to live. The company behind the device has laid off most of its workers and cut the price by nearly half as it looks to raise more money or “pursue an exit”. The struggles of two of the most prominent recent attempts to introduce robots into everyday life have left a sense of mourning in the robotics world… But while Kuri and Jibo fall by the wayside, a less visible robot invasion is starting to bring intelligent agents into a larger number of homes. It involves machines that are often not thought of as robots: these are starting to infiltrate the home through a number of different routes, and experts forecast that some could turn out to be the forerunners of a coming wave of more sophisticated artificial helpers and companions. One is the robotic vacuum cleaner… A second dimension of the home invasion takes the form of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home… A third route into home has been through artificial pets and toys.

 

Richard Waters

 

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