Jibo Is Finally Ready for Sale

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Jibo has finally announced the official public launch of its eponymous interactive, voice-enabled family robot. Product testing was originally slated to begin in the summer of 2015, a developer edition was due for release that fall, and the full public release was slated for summer 2016, but delays pushed back the launch until now.

Owners can ask Jibo nearly anything, such as the weather forecast, the score of Sunday's football game, or fun trivia questions on a variety of subjects. When they walk into a room, Jibo might greet them, ask a question, or tell a joke. He's happy to play the role of family photographer, snapping photos one at a time or in bursts.

Jibo can learn to recognize up to 15 users' faces and voices as he settles into his new home. Jibo uses advanced natural language understanding and speech and facial recognition to get to know the people around him. The more his family interacts with him, the smarter he becomes and the better he will understand the people around him and will be able to personalize his interactions.

"We set out to do something bold and groundbreaking with Jibo's creation. We want to fundamentally redefine the way people interact with technology by building a new category—the first social robot for the home," Steve Chambers, a former executive at Nuance Communications who took over as CEO of Jibo in early 2015, said in a statement. "Today's announcement marks a major milestone for our company and the history of robotics, and we're so excited for consumers to welcome this charming, helpful, and humble little guy into their homes."

A team of experts in social robotics and artificial intelligence, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and industry pioneer Cynthia Breazeal, were directly involved in Jibo's creation. Jibo applied Breazeal's research into human-machine interaction dynamics to inform everything from Jibo's design and movement to his distinctive voice and personality.

"Since I began my work in social robotics at MIT over 20 years ago, my goal has always been to introduce social robots into the home in a natural way, to help improve peoples' daily lives," said Breazeal, who founded Jibo and launched its initial Indiegogo campaign in 2014. "With the official launch of Jibo, this is finally a reality, and the future of social robotics has never been brighter and filled with more potential. I am beyond proud of the Jibo team for bringing this incredible social robot to life."

Jibo's long-term vision is ambitious, including applications in early childhood education, eldercare, health and wellness, and much more.

Jibo is also an inclusive platform for developers, partners, and third-party integrations to create new, diverse skills for him to learn. The Jibo platform will allow developers to create applications that go beyond the traditional flat screen into a unique 3D environment, leveraging Jibo's body movements, screen animations, and voice. The Jibo Software Developer Kit (SDK) will be available in 2018.

Jibo will deliver more capabilities in the following weeks and months via over-the-air software updates that will automatically become available.

Jibo will cost $899, weighs approximately 6 pounds, and stands about 11 inches tall. He will begin shipping Nov. 7 to pre-order customers.

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