Talking mobile personal robots in our homes such as the robot seen in the movie “Robot and Frank” may be in our future but they don’t presently exist except in research labs around the world. Recently however, many new artificial intelligence breakthroughs, hi-speed Cloud services, and software apps for speech recognition and processing are enabling new companies to build low cost devices that provide some of the services we can expect 10-20 years from now.
EmoSPARK, a UK start-up, just completed a successful IndieGoGo crowdfunded campaign for their new home artificial intelligence console. EmoSPARK is an Android Wifi/Bluetooth cube with which users can interact through conversation, music, visual media and from any type of remote device.
Cubic Robotics, a St. Petersburg start-up that recently displayed their device at a robotics conference in Moscow, is competing with a similar device, but only in Russia at first. The CUBIC is an electronic assistant that can understand and recognize voices and commands from distances up to 10 meters (they have a 16 microphone beam array) and can provide services such as reading news, reporting traffic conditions, providing tutoring and wake-up, and calendar reminders. It also has a social personality.
EmoSPARK and CUBIC offer spoken communication and both have worked on voice recognition up to and beyond a 1-2 meter range while compensating for noise and reverberation. Both are then using the Cloud to parse through the spoken commands, determine the contextual intent, and then process those commands. Both have developed the voice capture, speech recognition, and command interpretation software themselves.
ADAM is a mobile personal robot designed and produced in Milan, Italy by Hands Company SRLS. Their goal is, through design, to produce a low-cost personal robot. ADAM can communicate with home devices so you can control lights, appliances and thermostat. It has an autonomous navigation system and can move independently inside your home. It can act as an entertainment console, be used as a mobile telepresence device and do video surveillance.
GIRAFF is also a mobile personal robot but it is designed to work with and monitor senior citizens in their home or care facility. Using a network of sensors in and around the home, as well as on the person, blood pressure can be taken and the system can detect whether the person has fallen down. It also has a Skype-like telepresence capability to allow relatives and caregivers to virtually visit with the senior. GiraffPlus is an EU-funded project to develop a robust network of environmental and physiological sensors and provide intelligent services that can extract from incoming data and provide alarms to enable timely responses, all the while providing similar telepresence, entertainment and calendaring services such as those described above.