Need to entertain the kids? No problem: There’s now a robot for that.
While we’re not quite in the age of Jetsons-style robots who will do the housework for you, Mayfield Robotics is rolling out a home companion bot that takes us one step closer. And this newest tech toy won’t break the bank.
Looking like a bit like Eve from Pixar’s Wall-E, Kuri will start shipping to homes in December. A 20-inch-tall robot that aims to help make life more enjoyable, Kuri was designed to be adorable (with, its manufacturers say, a “cheerful personality“). The robot is equipped to interact with your household through facial recognition and pet detection software, and able to recognize voice commands and play a favorite podcast or music.
In a demo, rolled around a mocked-up apartment, avoiding obstacles and responding to voice commands. (Kuri is also equipped with state-of-art-sensors to ensure it avoids hitting walls and other objects within your home.)
For example, you can tell Kuri to “read a bedtime story” to the kids by playing an audiobook, or to tell the dog to get off the couch—by playing back a voice command—while you’re at work. Kuri can also be your eyes when you’re away—through the app, you can get the robot to check whether you left the lights on, or the garage door open.
Kuri also acts as a mini family historian, automatically taking photos and five-second videos of daily interactions. The feature, called Kuri Vision, is supposed to identify significant moments and record them—a child’s first words, for example, or a pet learning a new trick. The photos and videos are sent to Kuri’s corresponding app (available for both Android and iOS), which also allows for remote operation and programming tasks.
Kuri doesn’t speak, but rather communicates in a series of lights and beeps reminiscent of R2-D2. This, say its creators, by design. “If something speaks to you in fully formed sentences, you assume at least a human-level of intelligence—at least the level of a 5-year old,” says Mike Beebe, CEO of Mayfield Robotics. “It’s actually super hard to be as smart as a 5-year-old, and getting that level of intelligence consistently is tough.”
This means when someone says, “I love you Kuri,” the little robot does a little dance and beeps, while a little light on its “torso” glows.
Unlike some of the previously announced home robots that will retail for thousands of dollars, Kuri runs about $800. The first shipment of the 14-pound robot, slated for Dec. 1, is already sold out—which means if you order today, you won’t receive your robot until after the holidays. (You’ll also need to put down a $100 deposit.)
“We wanted a lot of people to get to experience having a wonderful, joyful robot in their house and that means it has to be accessibly priced,” Beebe says.