Once linked to your various email and phone accounts, Jibo can relay texts and phone calls to you. Today the Jibo team is accepting pre-preorders and launching a round of crowdsourced funding so it can bring Jibo to market in 2015. Sure there are a variety of apps that will alert you with a ping, but Jibo will actually talk to you. “Excuse me, Ann,” Jibo says in a demo video. Then he waits for Ann to respond before delivering a reminder that a friend is coming to pick her up
in half an hour
Jibo is a Cynthia Breazeal project. Breazeal directs the Personal Robots group at MIT’s Media Lab and developed the emotional robot Kismet. She’s worked on humanoids and other robots, but her real interests lay in robots that can communicate like we do, and she’s brought together a pretty amazing team to bring her vision to life.
Todd Pack, who has brought several robots at iRobot to market, is Jibo’s Chief Robot Architect; Roberto Piericcini, the team’s Director Advanced Conversational Technologies, has worked at IBM T. J. Watson Research Labs; Andy Atkins, VP of Engineering, has worked for both Android and Apple and developed a streaming platform for Netflix; and Chief Cloud Architect Rich Sadowsky hails from Symantec, which suggests that the company is making security of its cloud services a priority. Also Jonathan Ross, who’s designing Jibo’s software, has developed toys and games at Disney and company Zynga.
Breazeal says that Jibo differs from other attempts at personal assistance, like Siri, because it draws from multiple sources of sensory data. “Siri’s input is voice only, so if voice fails how can it help? Jibo is not trying to recognize everything that you say. Jibo’s not positioned to be that kind of entity,” she says.
Jibo is being dubbed the “World’s First Family Robot” by his creators, but from prior reporting we know there are other emotibots on the market like Softbank’s Pepper, which is also coming to markets in 2015. What Jibo offers is an approachable new device, like a tablet, but with a lot more functionality and (potentially) personality.
The goal of this funding campaign is to reach $100,000. Contributors will be able to get a Jibo for $499. Developers interested in creating new applications for the Jibo Network can snag a Jibo for $599.