...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Have you heard of Indiegogo? I was recently introduced to the global crowd-funding platform which is democratizing the way people raise funds for projects. If you’re an entrepreneur or a do-gooder, you can present your idea, product or cause to the public for funding. Or, if you’re a potential supporter, you can browse all kinds of campaigns and make monetary contributions to the products and ideas you’d like to see through to fruition. Basically, it’s a simple way to make ideas happen. Sounds pretty cool, right?

One particular campaign driven by Indiegogo caught my attention. Meet JIBO, the world’s first family robot. JIBO can take pictures, vocalize electronic messages, read bedtime stories, welcome you home, order takeout and so much more. Essentially, the robot acts as your family’s personal assistant. It’s been dubbed the “robot with a little humanity.” If it sounds like a product worth backing, you can contribute as little as $10 or go all out and pre-order your own JIBO!

After watching the JIBO campaign video, I couldn’t help but think of The Jetsons‘ Rosie, The Transformers‘ Bumblebee, Small Wonder‘s V.I.C.I., Her‘s Samantha and Apple’s Siri. Obviously, we humans have been thinking about the concept of a family / home / humanistic robot for a while. What should it be able to do? To what extent should it interact with us? Should it be personified as “he” or “she” or not at all?

I showed JIBO to Steve and, of course, (as an engineer) he finds the idea of a family robot fascinating. He says the human-robot relationship is inevitable. I have mixed feelings. I do find humanistic robots interesting (this TED talk on the subject is intriguing) but, honestly, I’m a little weirded out by the idea of them, too. I mean, they aren’t real. We’re just starting to see what happens when human-technology relationships replace human-human relationships. But I’ve never been the first to jump at new technological advances either. (I clung to my flip phone up until I was pregnant with Mabrey. Steve forced me to upgrade when only a few wires were holding the two halves of my phone together. I started texting just last year!)

Who knows? Maybe family robots will be commonplace in a few decades. Maybe sooner.

jibo

I will say JIBO is pretty cute…for a robot ;) FYI – That image is a mock-up.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on family robots. Yay or nay? Won’t it be fun to look back at this post and the commentary twenty years from now? If they still exist, that is.

P.S. – Check out a few more home technology-related campaigns currently running on Indiegogo: the TouchPico turns any surface into a projector and Reemo allows you to control your world with gestures. Steve wants to try them both.

*This post sponsored in part by Indiegogo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

media: 1) JIBO 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

24 Comments

09.September.2014

Oh I hope not! It saddens me to see humankind more and more reliant on technology to do everything for it. Our brains are rotting. Our health is declining. The recent phone commercial where the man asks it to remind him to say Happy Anniversary to his wife?!?! Come on!

(And I still have my flip phone.)

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replied on September 9th, 2014

we think the same thing about that phone commercial. my husband says “if he’s relying on his phone to remind him to tell his wife happy anniversary, he should also ask it to look up the nearest divorce attorney.” ha!!

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09.September.2014

I think it’s adorable and it really makes me think of the Jetsons. However I think I would be really concerned about my privacy being invaded. The next thing you know people will be hacking into these things to watch you and your family. If they can hack into a baby monitor I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for them to do the same here. I could see where it might be a nice companion for an elderly person but it shouldn’t be a substitute for anyone’s family.

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replied on September 9th, 2014

It really reminds me of Weebo from Flubber too only it doesn’t fly, lol!

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09.September.2014

Technology really is such a double edged sword, isn’t it? I found the film Her both interesting and concerning. I can’t imagine how society would operate if /when robots replace human interaction like in the film. I only see negative outcomes in that regard. I think people would become more self-serving.

It seems we may be on the brink of weird-ness. Ha! On the flipside I would love a Rosie. I could play with my kiddos while some”one”, else does the dishes and cleaning. Who could say no to that?!

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09.September.2014

The tone of the video reminded me of SNL parody commercials. I kept waiting for it start shooting lasers or inoculating them against HPV or ordering them mom jeans.

I don’t really see this catching on mainly based on something they don’t show — how you have to pick the thing up and move it around with you. While it’s designed to move beautifully, it doesn’t look like it’s optimized for portability, yet the use scenarios assume that people are doing just that. Seems like a pretty big gap in the user experience.

If you look into beacon technology and the internet of things, I think a lot of what’s realistic in this video is going to be better covered there — like a sensor in your foyer turning on the lights because it sees your phone (or maybe a bracelet you wear) approaching. It does not play your messages, however, because it instead calls Ashley to warn her to stay away from this guy because no normal single man in his thirties takes booty calls on a landline.

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09.September.2014

Long live the brick phone! I never even upgraded to a flip phone and just went straight to a smart phone like two years ago.

I’m a little torn on this. While I could see this really making life easier, I can also see how it can get really invasive. A couple of the features are basically the same as a phone (reminders) or apps (reading with child) so how do you justify the cost for something that you basically already carry around with you. I’m normally not that paranoid about this, but you have to think about the privacy issue and hacking.

Very interesting to see where the world goes with this in the future.

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09.September.2014

Clearly, you’re not a fan of the Terminator movies.

This is how Skynet starts. . . .

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replied on September 9th, 2014

:)

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replied on September 9th, 2014

That’s exactly what I thought of. We don’t want to go there. Although, Eureka had a pretty cute whole house computer…she eventually had a relationship with the robot deputy… Oh my!

ohh, and what about bicentennial man, the robot that wanted to be human. Or Star Trek with computers running everything until it cut of oxygen to the ship and only Data, the android can save them. Or the Matrix, where we are all living in a computer program…

Arguments for both sides, perhaps we will need the robot people to save us from our computer houses. ;)

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09.September.2014

I love the idea. Yes, a lot of us are way too consumed with our technology (using Facebook as a crutch instead of relying on real relationships, is just one example). However, if technology like this can actually be helpful and save us some time and energy, then we have that time and energy leftover for other things. More important things like focusing while working because you aren’t worrying about the family schedule. Or actually spending more time with your family instead of worrying about your work schedule. In that sense I think technology might actually save us. I heard a great TED talk (wish I could remember the name) about how we aren’t doomed as a society, technology will be our next renaissance period, but not in the way we use it now. Imagine technology being able to save a scientist so much time that they actually have more time to dedicate to curing cancer. The TED speaker obviously stated it more eloquently that I did, but you get the point.

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replied on September 9th, 2014

I’d love to listen to that TED talk if you happen to think of it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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09.September.2014

I love the idea! I think if it had wheels / a way to transport itself and go to different family members (so you don’t have to buy one for everyone) I would really want one!

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09.September.2014

I’m hoping the robot from Robot and Frank exists by the time I get old and loose my mind.

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09.September.2014

This sounds need, and I’m a big proponent of crowdfunding, but be cautious about telling people they can “preorder” an item. Because in an actual preorder, you get the item…or you get your money back.

With crowdfunding, you DONATE your money, and the donation recipient agrees to TRY to give you certain gifts as a reward. However, sometimes things don’t get made, and you don’t get your money back in these cases.

Crowdfunding is an amazing and powerful tool, but too many people don’t understand what it is and it’s causing problems for a lot of people on both sides.

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09.September.2014

IDK…kind of makes me think of that Disney channel movie Smart House!

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09.September.2014

I have a Roomba (automatic vacuum) and I feel like it’s me and him vs. the rest of my messy family. So yeah, I could get behind a family robot.

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replied on September 10th, 2014

On a tangent…do you like your Roomba? I love the idea of it but haven’t known anyone who actually owns one. I’d love to hear the pros / cons from someone who uses one in their house.

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09.September.2014

I’m always kind of surprised that people seem to really hone in on the security aspect of this device. Do you guys really think it will be less secure than your laptop or tablet computer? Most of those have built in cameras too. Is it just because it can pan around? This robot is more or less a tablet on a pan tilt base. Most of the value will come from the apps or whatever they are calling it. I think it’s a neat idea, but it will need lots of developer support to do well.

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10.September.2014

Creeeeeeeeepy!

I’d be unnerved knowing that thing was watching me all the time. Not to mention the horror if someone managed to hack into it.

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10.September.2014

I really do not like the idea. Disney’s “WALL-E” comes to mind. Everything is automatic and we are all lounging around in our futuristic chairs slurping our meals. Of course I would love help scrubbing my floors, bathroom, tubs, picking up after the dog and cat etc. so I could have more quality time with my young family. However, I don’t believe this would be done to my liking or preferences with a robot. I would rather hire a housekeeper.

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replied on September 10th, 2014

I totally thought of all of the humans lying around in WALL-E!

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10.September.2014

I’m also a late-adopted of technology and just got a smart phone a little over a year ago (and my hubby is a software engineer!). His take is generally to wait to see how the next new “thing” plays out, and I’m sure in this case we’d be waaaaaaaaaaaay late adopters. I’m already worried about (and limit) the amount of technology time my boys get, but also realize that they’ll need to know just as life skills for their future. There’s no way they won’t be using a computer when they start working, unless they become Amish. Even the hand-crafted makers of the world have to market and ship their goods.

I think robots in the home, at least ones that have the capacity to “think” for themselves and recognize people and situations, are going to come with some major problems and implications that we can’t fully fathom yet. Our society is already rather lazy and self-centered, and I can only imagine what having a “friend” in the house who talks to you and orders your take-out might do. I keep thinking of all those movies like Wall-e and The Net, where people have no human interactions. Creeeeepy.

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17.September.2014

I grew up with a house robot and I turned out okay ;) We had a Hero Jr. and I have fond memories of playing Cowboys and Robots and other games with it. I still have it.

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