Kuri robot

New companion robot Kuri captures home video

Image credit: Mayfield Robitics

Designed by Mayfield Robotics, the small, self-driving, burbling robot records video footage of domestic life and can learn to identify moments worthy of being captured.

Kuri was first revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. It has now been announced that the robot will be updated with shock-absorbent track wheels, structural updates and most significantly, an automated video capture programme called “Kuri Vision”.

Behind each of its eyes, a 1080p camera is installed. These cameras record eight five-second videos every day, based on factors such as time of day, location, and who is present in the house. According to its manufacturer, the robot is capable of recognising members of a household – including pets – by appearance.

In order to avoid disrupting a moment, Kuri does not give any clear indication that it is recording, unlike, for instance, Snap’s Spectacles, which shine warning lights around the frames of the glasses when capturing similar short videos.

The short videos are sent to a cloud-enabled app. When a user selects some clips and deletes others, Kuri uses its machine-learning and image-processing software to refine its skills, potentially beginning to capture only videos that its owners will enjoy.

Although the robot can be prevented from filming in specific rooms – such as the toilet – or at particular times of the day, its ability to capture any footage and store it on a cloud-based app could cause concerns regarding privacy and security, as some internet-connected children’s toys have done.

Kuri uses a laser sensor array to build up a floor plan of a home, and uses this map to recognise and navigate around different rooms.

The robot is just half a metre tall, and has a “cute” appearance designed to appear non-threatening in the home, especially around children. Kuri has been designed to have a “cheerful” character, which is conveyed through a multi-colour chest light, and a language of beeps, chirps and bloops, much like a ‘Star Wars’ droid.

Communicating by “speaking robot”, Kuri’s manufacturers likely hope to avoid the common and frustrating difficulties that many machines have in communicating in human language; for instance, in comprehending abstract or metaphorical language. The robot is, however, capable of responding to some spoken commands, such as to play music or to read an audiobook to a child.

Although Kuri’s first production wave has sold out, the robot will be available for $799 from spring 2018.

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