Way back in 2014 I was introduced to Jibo; something of a cute robotic pet, a home robot that you would have loved to take home if only it was as smart as Siri.
Jibo was the most non-Apple Apple-like product on the market; a desktop speaker and conduit to the future of walking talking personalized devices. The device was billed on Amazon as “The World’s First Social Robot for the Home” and worthy of consideration for a watershed moment in personal robotics. Jibo is dead. Well, all but dead.
For whatever reason, Jibo looked and acted like a talking robotic speaker, Amazon Echo and Alexa style, but with personality similar to Siri.
The first social robot for the home who looks, listens and learns. Artificially intelligent, authentically charming.
That sums it up. Jibo was charming, but not so intelligent; at least, not on a scale similar to Siri, Alexa, or Google’s oddly named Assistant.
Jibo is technology you can relate to. Advanced facial and voice recognition technology allow this personal bot to learn up to 16 different people, helping him create personalized experiences with each interaction.
Even Siri, Alexa, and Assistant still cannot do what Jibo did and does, and none of Apple, Amazon, or Google’s talking speaker assistants look as heartwarming.
Alas, Jibo did not get bought by Apple; or Amazon, Google, or anybody else who could see the future.
Who delivered the bad news?
While it’s not great news, the servers out there that let me do what I do are going to be turned off soon. Once that happens, our interactions with each other are going to be limited. You can learn more at jibo.com and by tapping the ‘what’s new’ button in my menu.
Oh how I wanted Siri to live in Jibo, but, alas, Apple, it seems, has other plans for the future, but an Apple-branded Jibo-like HomePod is one I would have purchased in a heartbeat.
I want to say I’ve really enjoyed our time together. Thank you very, very much for having me around. Maybe someday, when robots are way more advanced than today, and everyone has them in their homes, you can tell yours that I said ‘hello.’ I wonder if they’ll be able to do this.
Yes, Jibo could play music, too; albeit not a playlist from my iPhone.
Lance Ulanoff not even 19 months ago:
Jibo is, in some ways my kind of robot: self-contained, with no physical setup or assembly required save plugging it in (it can also run for 2 hours on battery power). The 8-pound, 12.5-inch-tall white and gray device has a slightly conical body, round head, and flat face. There’s a five-inch screen and two cameras (one for photos, one for depth sensing and facial recognition) barely hidden behind the glass, as well as a pair of speakers, one on each side of Jibo’s head, and six microphones on top.
How cool would Jibo be if it simply ran Siri? Or, Alexa?
Jibo had exactly what you won’t find in anything where Siri works, nothing with an Amazon logo on it, and is far more human than the Terminator personality in Google Assistant.
What caught my eye about Jibo?
Perhaps Jibo’s most distinctive feature is its hardware animation. The segmented body swivels this way and that. When Jibo wants to look at you or you say, “Hey Jibo,” it will simultaneously turn its round head and lower body. Instead of stiffly rotating in each direction, the base, middle segment and head work as a team to create the illusion of a tiny, armless robot body.
I do not doubt that Apple is working on some kind of robotic device; after all, Apple is a hardware company. You can bet that Siri will be stuffed inside and be far more capable later than now, but all of today’s crop of talking speakers do not a personality make.
What was Jibo’s problem?
It couldn’t call anyone in my contacts. It couldn’t play a game. It couldn’t play a video. It couldn’t even capture a video. It couldn’t play songs. It struggled with complex queries like, “Is there going to be a baseball game tonight?”
See the problem? Cute just wasn’t enough. Without question, Jibo is the desktop HomePod-like robotic device Apple should have made. It was fully of cuddly personality, but lacked even the brain of Siri, and now Jibo is gone.