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Asus Zenbo – Your Smart little Companion

  -   19. March 2017
Source: OpenClipart-Vectors/

With the development of the Zenbo, Asus branches out to home robotics. Announced at the Computex electronics show in Taiwan last year, the new innovation from Asus was presented. Besides new notebook and smartphone models, the Taiwanese company came out with the creation of an adorable home robot with the name Zenbo.

ASUS chairman Jonney Shih introduced the new product at Computex. “Our ambition is to enable robotic computing for every household,” he said before revealing Zenbo the home robot,” it’s aimed at older people in particular, with the goals of “assistance, entertainment and companionship.

Will you let a robot live with you?

As a home security assistant, Asus Zenbo can monitor the home for emergency situations and alert family members on their smartphones who can access Zenbo to navigate around the house and keep a track of things using its built-in camera. As a home care assistant, Zenbo provides reminders of medication, doctor’s appointments, and exercise schedule. It can also run few errands like make video calls, control lights, air conditioning, use social media, tell you recipes in the kitchen, shop and stream TV shows and movies. All of these by using voice commands.

But it is not solely designed for elderly people. Zenbo is a fun companion for the whole family and educational playmate for kids who entertains them with interactive stories and learning games that foster their creativity and logical thinking skills. Zenbo includes a built-in library of stories that he tells in a variety of different voices, while displaying accompanying images on his screen and controlling the room lighting to add a new level of interactivity.

The main features of the Asus Zenbo are:

  • Move: With its built-in camera, it is able to move around the house freely
  • See: It can take photos, videos and phone calls
  • Speak: It can react to commands or questions, remind you of important appointments or be a storyteller
  • Hear: It can hear and respond to questions and requests
  • Sound: It can play music through high-quality speaker
  • Connect: It can connect and control smart home devices or other online items and interact with connected services
  • Learn: It can learn and adopt to your preferences with proactive artificial intelligence
  • Express: It can express emotions with different facial expressions

ASUS Announces Zenbo to be available for Christmas

In order to increase the possibilities and to make the Zenbo more user friendly, Asus launched a free Zenbo Developer Program that provides members with access to a Zenbo platform and a library of information that is needed to bring the creative ideas to life. The home robot Zenbo is predicted to be available in 9-12 months with a price of 599$, which is more reasonable that for example its competitor model “Pepper” from Japan. Asus CEO Jerry Shen explained: “It’s a long time for sure, but announcing the product early is deliberate on Asus’ end. It hopes to attract developers to work on apps for Zenbo, to have a robust ecoystem before the robot becomes available.”

Smart Helper or dangerous Toy?

Besides these advantageous features there are also threats and disadvantages to come along with the Asus Zenbo and home robotics in general. If the Zenbo gets hacked for example, every smart home device can be controlled, monitored and manipulated. All the household appliances can be affected with malware and there is a possibility that private data can be leaked and sold. People will fear that they will have a lot of privacy issues with such a device like having data leaks, recording of your voice commands, etc. but all that could possibly happen through mobile and smart home devices as well.

Some critics say the Asus Zenbo is just a combination of the the Amazon Echo or Google Home features with the appearance of an iMac G4 on wheels and that the Zenbo will have to further develop in order to overcome major obstacles. There were different tests conducted that showed that manipulating a robot can be just as frustrating as working with pets and children. Sometimes Zenbo didn’t react properly or didn’t go where it was told. On other occasions, Zenbo failed to pick up on camera gestures, or it simply stopped and did nothing.

However the model is still at an early stage and the company will continue to refine its behaviour and sensitivity. Together with the Zenbo Developer Program and the support of many creative thinkers the Asus Zenbo will pursue its final stage and may be our smart little companion in our homes in the near future.

Who wrote it?

Silas Nikolaus

Silas Nikolaus studies at the European Management School in Mainz.


Sandra Bleher
22-03-2017 22:28

I really enjoyed reading your article and learning about Zenbo. As soon as the technology for Zenbo is fully developed especially for elderly people this might be a helpful device, as you already mentioned,because this way they can keep their independence and their families can stay calm, because they know that in case of an accident they will be able to get in touch through Zenbo. I guess in the worst case you would also be able to call an ambulance by using Zenbo. However such as with smart homes I'm not sure if the security problems are too massive to really decide to buy it. Because it provides a whole new level of cyber crime. If someone would really hack into Zenbos system he could even move around your house and this way easily plan a burglary, spy on you and take pictures of you and your belongings. Still I think this is a really interesting innovation and I will definitely stay informed about Zenbos development.

Julia Ursu
22-03-2017 16:02

Your article was so nice to read. I did not even know that something like this even exists. This is something really cool. Your article is interesting and your topic is nice. To have a little companion that helps you to remember to take your pills and that helps you to manage your daily tasks is very helpful. Especially for the older generation would it be very helpful to have a daily help. But what about the safety? With all this technological innovation, that makes it easier for cyber criminals to commit crimes. How can I as a user for example protect myself against cyber criminals?

Thorben Theis
22-03-2017 11:01

I really enjoyed reading your article because I have never heard of such an innovation before. While the robot may not work perfectly now it has great potential to come into every household as a smart helper. Especially for the elders this innovation can change lives. Zenbo can help them with their daily task and can even control if they take their medicine or that they go to the doctor. Nevertheless I think that there is a danger by criminals. It gives them the opportunity to have a look at a house before robbing it making illegal actions easier for them. Besides that I thing this innovation has many positive effects.

Isabelle Hachenberg
22-03-2017 00:04

I really enjoyed reading your article! To me the topic of robots is quite new and I never really dealt with it. As innovations nowadays are getting more and more creative and kind of crazy, still the Asus Zenbo could have a future in a lot of homes. Using it as an extension to a smart home, the same critics can come up - security and privacy issues. Moreover letting the robot live together with defenseless persons - elderly or young - in case of technical problems can occur as well. I guess that this innovation is not the only one we should be critical about. Still I ask myself when the robot will be launched and when it is possible to buy it? Or is it already on the market? Looking forward to your answers.

Franziska Blum
21-03-2017 14:29

As well as Katharina, I also thought about the point of real interaction. I think a robot cannot replace this. But at the moment, it seem so like that is not what the robot is supposed to do. It might reduce loneliness when there is no one else at one moment. Of course, security issues are a concern, too. As with all electric devices, there is always this risk. When I read the article, I thought about the cultural background. Countries like Japan might adopt it easier than maybe western countries. They are more used to this type of technology, using it already with robotic dogs, for example, while this is not so common in western areas. However, I think there is a lot of potential in this invention, but we should not exaggerate the usage.

Mia Zerwas
21-03-2017 14:09

The most interesting part of these robots is the part described by you as "Learn: It can learn and adopt to your preferences with proactive artificial intelligence" Will these robots be able to achieve human intelligence in the future? According to Decartes human intelligence is a universal instrument: the ability to engage in conversations is an ordinary human ability. Decartes held the view that robots would always fall short in comparison with humans because “we can easily understand a machine’s being constituted so that it can utter words, and even emit some responses to action on it… But it never happens that it arranges its speech in various ways, in order to reply appropriately to everything that may be said in its presence, as even the lowest type of man can do.” Machines have need of special adaptations for every particular action and they lack with open-ended flexibility that humans have. This might change according to some computer scientists: 'Singularity’ is known as the point of time where we achieve human level of intelligence in a machine, but with this in their opinion there will start a new revolution where these machines start grow exponentially empower, and improve their own software design. This might sound super science fiction but would we be able to even distinguish between humans and robots?

Samantha Beidinger
20-03-2017 17:45

Wow! My grandma was the first person I thought about while reading your article. Asus Zenbo is a great innovation especially, as you mentioned, for elderly people as this little robot offers assistance and companionship. Although it would be difficult to convince my grandma of a talking robot at home. I understand the critics and, to be honest, I had the same thoughts in mind. Although it is true that it is no sorcery to manipulate our everyday-devices with the same consequences. I think Asus Zenbo has a bright future when the major obstacles are overcome.

Marie Schubert
20-03-2017 16:32

It was fun to read your article and I immediately found myself to put myself in the situation interacting with Zenbo. I have to admit, that I am rather critical towards technology having such a high importance in our daily lives, but Zenbo really seems to be likeable. The price of 599$ can be easily justified to my point of view. Reading about Zenbo and his abilities was the first time I saw me more positive towards such a robot innovation. Especially when it comes to elder people I can perfectly imagine that the robot can be a helpful assistance. Many old people are lonely and Zenbo might decrease this feeling and support them in their daily activities. However, I agree with Katharina saying that older people do not trust technology that much. In theory Zenbo would be a good companion, but honestly I cannot imagine my grandma interacting with it. In addition, I also think that Zenbo offers easily access to your personal data and I do not know how safe it is to use. To conclude, having Zenbo as a little companion for fun activities and some supporting assistance can be really exciting (for old and young). On the other hand you always should have the security issues in mind and the intensity of usage should be balanced. Zenbo should, for me, rather be an additive gadget than something replacing social interaction or other human beings in general.

Patricia Hofmann
20-03-2017 14:55

The idea of living together with a little intelligent robot in your house is a very funny but also exciting thought, allthough I would prefer dogs anyway. But especially for people with allergies who can not own a pet or old people who are not fit enough anymore to take care of a pet, I think Asus Zenbo is a great idea. In times of smart phones and notebooks, it is not suprising that the robot industry comes up with a new innovation to make your life easier with its features. The features of the Asus Zenbo can be very helpful in your everyday life and are easy to handle. The risks described in the article can occur with our smartphones and laptops as well, so I think it shouldn't stop people from buying the little gadget.

Bernd Hartmann
20-03-2017 12:49

Lieber Silas, ich habe es sehr genossen, Deinen Beitrag zu lesen. Mach weiter so! Sehen wir uns Samstag bei Tobias zum Grillen? LG Bernd

Katharina Blanckart
20-03-2017 11:24

What a great innovation! We all know this kind of idea of little robot helpers in the household or as play companions for children from science fictional movies but that this might be real in near future is astonishing. I am really fond of the concept that Zenbo will assist elders in their daily life with routines as simple as taking their medication. A thought which arose while reading your article was that this could be an alternative for retirement homes as many elderly people refuse to leave their homes for understandable reasons. At the same time this would require that our Grandparents will get themselves into this new technology which I see a little skeptical as elderly people often do not trust these “new technologies”. In additional one should be aware of the fact that the Zenbo should not replace human interactions and communications as they are a vital factor for both elders and especially children (learning how to talk etc.). I am a fan of the idea and curious how Asus will further develop the little robotic guys.

Letizia Credico
19-03-2017 22:48

I really enjoyed reading your article! Zenbo does not only seem to be a little "home robot companion", it also seems to be very helpful. In years to come, especially older people could make use of Zenbo as it will help the elderly in their everyday lives. As you have mentioned in your article, concerns are of course inevitable. Since the research and development procedures of the Zenbo robot are still at an early stage, Asus can examine possibilities to provide further improvements on Zenbo's security and its functionality. Personally, I think that Zenbo has a bright future ahead! I cannot wait to test this smart little companion at home!



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