At the Computex trade show in Taipei, Asus has revealed on Sunday, May 29, a cute talking robot for the home called Zenbo.
According to Computerworld, Asus presented Zenbo as a personal assistant that can read stories to the kids and help looking after elderly relatives. The robot is priced at $599.
Zenbo rolls around on wheels and is about 2 feet tall. It features a display that can be used for streaming movies and making video calls or just to show its animated face.
On Monday, Jonney Shih, Asus CEO, presented Zenbo at a press conference in Taipei, asking it questions and giving it voice commands as the robot rolled around the stage. He also asked Zenbo to take his photo on stage, with the audience in the background.
Zenbo understood the command and took his picture. Assuming the Zenbo was not being remotely controlled from backstage, this was an impressive demonstration.
A big part of Asus' pitch for Zenbo is caring for the elderly. In Japan, the country struggling with an aging population, this could prove especially popular.
By allowing the senior citizens to make video calls, Zenbo could help bridge the digital divide between generations. In case that the elderly relative has a fall, the robot can also alert relatives via a smartphone app.
For children, Zenbo can show videos, read them stories and play interactive games. It can also turn off the TV, dim the lights and control household appliances.
The robot can be seen as a kind of Siri or Amazon Echo AI assistant on wheels. These capabilities were seen before in other robot models, but what is impressive is the fact that Asus offers them at just a price of a PC.
According to Engadget, even the recently elected President of Taiwan "talked" to Zenbo at the Computex show. This was just one more impressive live demonstration of its capabilities.
It is unknown yet when Zenbo will go on sale. An Asus spokesman said that the company does not yet have a shipping date. For the moment, Asus is offering a software kit to the developers for building applications for the Zenbo robot.