Companion robots are coming to your home soon?

One of the biggest emerging trends at this year’s CES 2017 has been the number of home robots on show, all of whom are vying to be, in the words of the late Douglas Adams “Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with.” This was not limited to small players even global giants like Panasonic showed off their home robots.

Of the Androids on display, the prize for the most humanoid goes to the Lynx. Developed by industry leaders UBTECH Robotics, it has arms and legs and can walk and talk meaning that it will follow you around your home reminding you of appointments and reading out emails as they land in your inbox. And because it uses facial recognition it won’t accidentally read the wrong message to the wrong person. Lynx combines unprecedented intelligence and robotics into one consumer-friendly platform and it also features Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant so it can tell you about the weather and of course shop for the best deals on the Amazon site.

For those that prefer their robots to be cute, the Panasonic Companion is dome-shaped head and elongated neck above the others. It looks like an egg when shut down but when called into action its head extends from its body – think Pixar angle poise lamp – and thanks to AI and natural language processing capabilities, can converse with you like a person.

And, because it’s just 290mm tall and has rollers rather than feet, it’ll be right at home on a desk or kitchen counter. Or at least it will be if it ever goes into full production.

“We are showing this robot at CES as a way of obtaining feedback on its features and functions,” said Takahiro Iijima, Director, Panasonic Design Strategy Office in North America. “This is Panasonic’s latest effort in demonstrating network services in a friendly package.”

The cutest real-world robot at this year’s show is Kuri. Developed by Mayfield Robotics as a companion for the whole family, it makes friendly noises, has a range of facial expressions and can even read the children bedtime stories.

“While insanely cute on the outside, Kuri contains serious technologies on the inside,” said Kaijen Hsiao, CTO and co-founder of Mayfield Robotics. “We hope Kuri introduces people – especially kids – to the power of technology and can inspire a new world of possibilities for their future.”

Robot LQ-101 is a collaboration between SoundHound and Shenzhen Tanscorp Technology and if you ask it nicely, it will spin, dance and even perform kung fu. But away from the gimmicks this particular robot is backed by one of the most advanced and agnostic AI platforms. It’s been developed to work with potentially any device or operating system and is capable of performing everything from internet searches to guarding the home when everyone is out.

“We see Robot LQ-101 becoming a valuable family companion through its rich capabilities, including high-quality video chat, remote and smart home control, and health management, while incorporating Houndify voice technology to enable it to understand commands like a human family member,” said Douglas Zhang, Chairman of the Board at Shenzhen Tanscorp Technology Co.

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