A new generation of androids is about to knock on the door of the house. Meet with these new companions.
We dreamed of it cyber majord ome or multilingual assistant way C-3PO, housekeeper or intelligent auxiliary as in I, Robot. And we get there little by little. Tomorrow, thanks to the progress of the research, everyone will finally be able to afford a domestic robot. For now, the only models that invite themselves at home, except for the culinary appliances that usurp this denomination, are robot vacuum cleaners (iRobot Roomba, Samsung, Neato, etc.) and robot mowers (Husqvarna , Bosch, Evo, etc.). Or others who know how to wash tiles (Winbot) and clean floors (Scooba).
There is a lot of expectation from the public, but it will still take a few years for products to offer a value for money, said Bruno Bonnell , CEO of the company Awabot, specializing in robotic solutions and administrator Robopolis, the main distributor of the sector. For now, we have the choice between robot toys sold between 50 and 1,000 dollars, and humanoids reserved for research or companies, which cost at least several thousand dollars.
A robot that detects emotions
The same goes for Aldebaran, which manufactures the Nao and Pepper robots. The robots that do the housework, clear the table and react intelligently to your orders are out of reach today. The ones we see in the lounges or on the Internet videos are concepts, like the concept cars of the car manufacturers.
The Pepper robot sold 6,000 copies in 6 months.
Impossible, therefore, to buy a smart robot? Not exactly. We can already go to the other end of the planet, in Japan, where Aldebaran decided to sell its Pepper model. “The success is such that we are limited to sales slots of one minute every month, says Julien Seret. Six thousand copies have been sold since six months. “The price? The equivalent of 1500 dollars, plus a subscription of about 200 dollars per month (maintenance, associated services, access to applications). Pepper is a nice, wheel-mounted 1,20m Android that can detect human emotions based on facial expressions and the intonation of their voices.
He knows how to play riddles, perform some dance moves and can get rich using apps. Customers love Pepper because of its design, its gestures and its ability to dialogue. As it is programmable and can be expanded with applications, anyone can adapt it to their needs. Most buyers use it for entertainment, learning English and music, and communicating with other family members. He is a domestic companion.
“With the seniors, he will remind the drugs to take”
The Buddy robot will be marketed at the end of 2016.
Another domestic companion, the Buddy of the company Blue Frog Robotics will not be available before the end of 2016, for a price of about 750 dollars. He displays his face on a tablet and moves on his wheels independently. “It can be used in many situations,” says Maud Verraes, marketing director of the company, but it is safe to watch the house, detect intrusions and send an alert on my smartphone in case of water leak or fire. He also knows how to sympathize with children, play them music and offer different pieces according to the faces he recognizes, or help them learn or revise a subject. With the seniors, he will remind the medications to take and will remove the doubt in case of a fall or if no activity is detected.
Just as promising, the robot Jibo (planned for May 2016 for $ 750) is more of the bedside lamp than the humanoid. But his functions are impressive: equipped with high-resolution cameras, a microphone and a system of voice synthesis, he can take photos automatically, during a reception, identifying faces, tell children interactive stories, state the messages from family members, remind you of upcoming appointments, etc. Not so bad!
“From my office, I’m my grandmother via webcam and she sees me on the screen that is located at the height of man.”
If Pepper, Buddy and Jibo are intended for a wide audience, other robots as evolved are particularly aimed at the elderly or disabled, as Kompaï created by the French company Robosoft (around 5000 dollars) or Beam plus of Suitable Technologies (2900 dollars). “The Beam Plus is used for telepresence,” explains Bruno Bonnell. From my office, I can travel remotely in the form of an avatar to accompany my grandmother to her house, talk to her, and find out about her health. I am by webcam and she sees me on the screen that is located at the height of man.
The Tipster robot from WowWee.
On the toy side, the choice is wide. Starting with WowWee products. The youngest will love the Tipster (49.99 dollars, from 3 years): mounted on four wheels, it is controlled using a remote control. Among the activities offered, the child must stack as many objects as possible on the robot’s arms, before the music stops or until Tipster loses balance. We can also watch him do the balancing act on a kind of barrel and guide him freely. More sophisticated and larger (18 cm), the MiP Robotics Companion of the same manufacturer (99.90 dollars, from 8 years old) moves on two wheels in perfect balance thanks to a gyroscopic system and is piloted either by hand or from an app for iPhone or Android smartphone.
Robosapien masters dance and martial arts.
But the most spectacular remains the Robosapien X (99.99 dollars, from 8 years), a 36 cm humanoid that moves on his legs and is controlled by remote control or iOS or Android smartphone. You can control your arms, your forceps and your legs, but also program sequences and combinations of gestures, and have fun watching him dance, practice kung fu or kick in a ball.
More educational, the Lego MindStorm box allows you to make and program yourself robots. “In the past, we offered the small chemist’s box, now we are offering the Lego MindStorm box,” observes Bruno Bonnell. It allows all children, from primary to university, to learn about robotics. This kind of product prepares the robotics of tomorrow.