Is your family ready to adopt this robot?

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by Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY

USA TODAY

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

NEW YORK — How do you feel about living under the same roof as a robot? Not a robot such as Roomba that will assume your household vacuuming chores. But instead a robot named Jibo, who if Cynthia Breazeal has her way, will become a newly adopted member of your family.

Jibo
(Photo: Jibo)

Indeed, Jibo, the brainchild or rather robot-child of MIT professor and social robotics pioneer Breazeal, is being called the world's first family robot.

Breazeal's long-term vision is to bring robots into our everyday lives. "We're about humanizing technology," she said in an interview.

Along those lines, Jibo is no toy robot. The Wi-Fi connected robot stands just under a foot tall tall and carries the weight of a really heavy laptop. My initial thought was that he would feel most comfortable hanging out with WALL-E.

Instead Jibo is all about hanging with you and other family members. He can double as an on-demand cameraman—independently capturing videos and still images by tracking the action around him. You can ask Jibo (directly or via an iPhone or Android app) to take voice messages or leave reminders—maybe alerting an elderly grandparent when it's time to take his or her medicine. He can read stories to the kids at bedtime. He can order take-out food on your behalf.

The best way to envision Jibo in action is to watch the company's promotional video here, keeping in mind that it's just that, a promotional video. In other words this is all about the promise of Jibo since I haven't seen Jibo in person yet and it remains to be seen how the robot's debut goes.

As it turns out that debut is going to take awhile. Jibo's slated arrival isn't until the fall of 2015, more than a year away. Brezeal is trying to get the development and early adopter communities jazzed in advance.

The consumer version of the robot will cost $499 under a special inaugural price—you can preorderJibo here with a deposit of $99. Developers that want to create apps for an upcoming Jibo store can pay $599 for the robot.

Robots in every home? Breazeal insists that the personal robot revolution is going to happen, with Jibo leading the charge.

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