Samsung introduced its vision of robots as “life companions” at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show – a tiny, ball-shaped AI device that rolls around the house and responds to commands like a pet dog.
Unveiled on 6 January 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Samsung’s small, yellow Ballie robot is designed to act as a personal assistant for the home.
The device uses a mobile interface, on-device artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, voice activation and an in-built camera to recognise and respond to its users, and help them with various household tasks.
It responds to spoken demands as a pet might, but can be used as a wakeup call, a fitness assistant, to record moments or to manage other smart devices in the home like TVs and vacuums.
It can also keep real pets company when owners are out of the house.
According to the company, Ballie carries out all of these tasks while adhering to strict data protection and privacy standards.
“We believe AI is the future of personalized care,” said Sebastian Seung, executive vice president and chief research scientist at Samsung Electronics.
“We see on-device AI as central to truly personalized experiences,” he continued. “On-device AI puts you in control of your information and protects your privacy, while still delivering the power of personalization.”
As Samsung president and CEO Hyunsuk Kim explained in the opening keynote at CES 2020, consumers have entered the “age of experience”, where hardware and software merge to deliver personalised experiences that make life easier and more enjoyable.
Ballie is the electronics brand’s response to this demand for more human-centric innovation, which aims to enhance the wellbeing of consumers by catering to their individual needs.
“In the age of experience, we need to re-think the space we have to accommodate our diverse and evolving lifestyles,” said Kim.
“What makes Samsung’s approach unique is the fact that we have a very clear philosophy built around human-centered innovation,” he added. “We build and create to solve problems and enhance people’s lives.”
During his CES keynote, Kim addressed the robot like a pet dog, controlling it with commands like “come here Ballie”, “good boy” and “say hi”.
The device, which is said to resemble the BB-8 droid character from the Star Wars franchise, responded with jingles and gestures.
“I love this guy. He even knows to give me a little space,” said the Samsung CEO during the speech, before proposing the idea of using the robot around his office to make sure he isn’t late to any meetings.
“Of course, Samsung’s vision is more than just a cute robot,” he added. “It’s a vision of technology as an all-round personal life companion.”
“Intelligent robots will live by your side,” Kim continued. “They know you, support you, and take care of you so you can focus on what really matters.”
Other electronics brands exhibiting at this year’s CES include Sony, which surprised visitors by showcasing a prototype of a driverless, electric concept sedan called Vision-S.
The vehicle was Sony’s way of demonstrating what its advanced electronics technologies could do to contribute to “safer and more reliable autonomous driving”.
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