Jibo Could Usher the Start of the Personal Robotics Market

Founded by Cynthia Breazeal, Jibo is exactly the type of robot that will usher in the age of personal robotics.  The reason for this is simple - the price will be about $500.  This is in line with a task robot like an iRobot Roomba.  It combines many of the features that are important to robotics - cloud robotics, social robotics that adds an emotional level to communications, and the leveraging mobile device trends that have drastically brought down the cost and increased the capability of mobile processors, sensors, and other components.  Think of these simple personal robots as embodied smartphones - they are embodied in that they have moving parts for a purpose.  In this case the purpose is to aim the camera sensor and communicate with emotion.  Adding mobility adds more complexity and cost.  Adding manipulation adds even more complexity and cost.  All these things will be commercialized, but they will start with personal robots like this that are much more affordable.  Mobility will be built off platforms that telepresence robots use, and manipulation added onto that.  As the personal robotics market progresses, people will see the value in them.  The value in Jibo and other products to come like it will be family-wide communications and reminders around the home, telepresence, something to automatically take pictures and videos or do so on voice command, and more.  A completely stationary device could do much of this but wouldn't be able to aim the camera sensor(s).  Jibo combines functionality with a new UI (social robot) to create a product that is fun and useful.