Taiwan-based computer-maker Asus has unveiled a communicative robot, Zenbo, that can assist with household tasks, serve as a playmate for children or remind the elderly when it is time to take medication.
Asus said Zenbo, somewhat resembling Disney-character Wall-E, will come with a price tag of only $599 (£457). According to some analysts, this low price, comparable to that of a PC, gives Zenbo a good chance to make household robotics if not ubiquitous then at least a common occurrence.
“Our ambition is to enable robotic computing for every household,” announced Johnny Shih, the chairman of Asus, during a presentation at Computex, an IT technology show in Tapei, Taiwan, were the cute creature was introduced for the first time to a cheering crowd.
He then called the wheeled robot onstage. They performed a little dance together before showing off Zenbo’s skillset.
The robot, with an expressive face that can turn into a touchscreen, a camera display or a monitor for watching video, reacts to voice commands and provides answers to questions or reminders in spoken language.
It can freely move around the house and monitor household appliances, read out recipes, tell stories, order purchases online, take images and make video calls.
Asus didn’t say when the robot would enter the market but invited developers to join and create new applications for the Android-powered creature to expand its functionalities.
According to Asus, Zenbo is powered by artificial intelligence software that enables it to learn from experience and fine-tune its performance based on interaction with humans.
The robot, with an in-built stereo system, could be used to play music. It can also monitor the house when no one is around or keep an eye on the elderly and call help in case of an accident.