As a tech columnist, I’ve tested all sorts of helpful robots: the kind that vacuum floors, deliver packages or even make martinis. But two arriving in homes now break new ground. They want to be our friends.
“Hey, Geoffrey, it’s you!” says Jibo, a robot with one giant blinking eye, when it recognizes my face. Another, named Kuri, beeps and boops while roaming the halls snapping photos and video like a personal paparazzo.
Think of Jibo and Kuri as the great-grandparents of R2-D2, the buddy robot from Star Wars. Of course, R2 was actually a 3-foot-8-inch dude crouching in a can. Jibo and Kuri are real robots with real artificial intelligence you can really take home (for $900 and $800, respectively).
Another way to think of them is what comes after talking speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which opened the door to new kinds of computers for the home. Jibo, the brainchild of an MIT professor, looks like one of those know-it-all AI assistants borrowed a face and a twirling body from a Pixar movie. Kuri, made by a startup backed by appliance giant Bosch, looks like a penguin mounted on a Roomba vacuum.
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