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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

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Jibo on its way to a crowdfunding record
AFP
July 24, 2014
First Published: 11:13 IST(24/7/2014)
Last Updated: 11:26 IST(24/7/2014)

The Indiegogo campaign for the little family robot has already passed the $1 million mark -- 10 times its initial funding goal, making it one of the most successful crowdsourced tech products in the site's history and there are still 24 days remaining and demand shows no sign of slowing.

Experts and consumers alike were less than sure that there was a true demand for smartwatches until the Pebble landed on Kickstarter in 2013.

And until now, the jury has also been out on the pros and cons of the household robot. But the fact that Jibo has attracted support from over 2300 people and raised over $1,077,319 within six days of its 30-day crowd-funding campaign suggests that the world is both ready and waiting for android acquaintances, especially ones that can help out around the home.

"We knew Jibo was a powerful concept and it seems consumers agree that the time has come for a friendly robot in the home," said Jibo founder & CEO, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal. "If Jibo hits the $2 million mark, we will release something truly exciting at no additional charge."

Developed by a team packed with MIT robotics expertise, Jibo is much more Pixar than Terminator in appearance, and is described as "a bold, new way to interact with, coordinate with, and nurture those that matter most in your daily life" -- in other words, your family.

It's best to imagine the little robot as a smartphone, camera and tablet replacement around the home and one that can respond vocally to natural language -- ask him a straight question and he'll give you an answer. What's more, he'll be able to look you in the eye when he does respond as he has a multi-axis moving body and 360° hearing.

He's also packed with stereo cameras and powerful facial recognition tools, meaning he can step in as the cameraman so that everyone is always in group photographs and videos. He'll even start shooting automatically when he detects people are smiling or coming together to pose for a picture.

And as well as recognize individual faces, Jibo will also learn individual voices so he can keep track of every family member's to-do lists, text messages and missed calls. He can even read the kids interactive bedtime stories with sound effects and graphics.

And that's just the start, as well as the robot itself, Jibo's creators are also building a platform for other apps and uses so that other developers can bring new features and functions to the party. For example, integration with connected home devices.

Why fish your smartphone out of your pocket when you can tell Jibo to turn the lights on or lock the door? Better still, as the robot gets to learn the household's routine, he could start doing those things automatically, without needing to be asked.

All 250 early bird versions of Jibo, priced at $499 and destined to ship in 2015, have been snapped up, as have all of the initial developer editions for anyone wanting to create applications and features for the platform. As a result its makers have added a new option of a Jibo for $499 that will ship in 2016 or the option of making a $199 down payment now, followed by a further payment of $349 in 2016 in order to guarantee delivery of one of the first official full public release versions of the robot.


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