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.