At International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas, the world's tech giants and start-ups unveiled ground-breaking—and some not so impressive—concepts and gadgets. Robots, especially, appeared to be the stars of the display, with droids of all shapes, sizes and functions filling up the bustling exhibition space.
From AI home assistants to self-driving luggage, we round up 10 robots we want in our homes in the not too distant future.
Some of us may remember Aibo, the boxy robot dog that Sony debuted back in 1999. Considered groundbreaking for the 20th century, the mechanical pet was received with much fanfare, but was eventually discontinued in 2006. Now, Aibo is back and more life-like than ever—whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?—featuring expressive OLED eyes, fluid movements, and deep-learning AI that allows it to recognise and form emotional bonds with members of the family. Aibo’s debut at CES 2018 had the crowd oohing and aahing over its adorable puppy-like behaviour, and we can’t wait to give it a home.
2. iPal Smart AI Robot
Perhaps what our kids need these days isn’t an iPad, but an iPal. A companion robot that debuted in CES 2017, the humanoid bots were seen at CES 2018, this time dancing and performing calisthenics. Measuring about one metre tall and glossy in white and an assortment of pastel colours, iPal is Avatarmind’s answer to children’s education, elder care, and surveillance at home. Like other tablet-based children’s devices, iPal can interact with your child to boost language learning and encourage interest in science and technology.
Furthermore, it allows children to connect to social media and chat with friends safely. For elderly who are living alone, iPal is a nursing assistant that reminds them to take their medicine, supplements personal care, and a safety net for any medical emergencies.
3. CLOi Hub Robot
With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), LG has been steadily increasing its robotic lineup, with robots designed for airports, hotels, and supermarket. But it is the adorable Hub Robot that has found a place in my hearts and eventually our homes. Featuring a circular LCD display and a sleek round body, the home assistant reminds us of Eve from Pixar’s Wall-E.
Like its name suggests, the Hub Robot will be the “hub” of your smart home, monitoring and managing your SmartThinQ appliances. We got a glimpse at what CLOi could do—until she decided to fall silent—at CES 2018, and we think she would make a good addition to our homes, on a good day, that is.
4. Winbot X
The Winbot X may not have an emotive LCD face or a voice for that matter, but what it lacks in personality it makes up for in functionality. The nifty window-cleaning bot was even honoured at the CES Innovation Awards this year for its outstanding product design. So what makes the Winbot X so special? It is the first cordless automated cleaner, allowing it to glide freely across your windows as it scrubs, polishes and cleans.
And if you’re worried about accidents, Ecovacs has it covered—the bot is fitted with safety features, that adapts and tethers to your window regardless of its shape, and is also to scan and map the best cleaning route for your window. Winbot X is slated for a release in mid-2018.
Remember 60s cartoon sitcom The Jetsons? Aeolus may be the millennial’s answer to Rosie the robot maid. Despite its appearance—utilitarian and decidedly not as cute as its robot counterparts, Aeolus is able to do what the other robots cannot yet—hand you a drink. The housekeeping droid features cameras above its smiley LED eyes, allowing it to map your home as it travels on its wheels, and recognise faces, objects and locations where objects belong. And with modular attachments to its arm, this robot can even vacuum and mop, on top of gripping objects and returning them to their rightful place. The robot will hopefully roll out by the end of this year into out homes.
If you never thought you needed a laundry-folding robot, now you do. Designed to blend seamlessly with your furniture—it looks like a rather sophisticated closet—Laundroid analyses each item in your unfolded laundry for the best fold, and can recognise and sort clothing according to members of the family.
Fashion enthusiasts who have trouble keeping track of their wardrobe contents will appreciate Laundroid’s dedicated app, an online closet that inputs and organises the clothing you have at home. The laundry-bot is slated to be equipped with voice controls for its release, so we can say good-bye to folding clothes and hello to Laundroid.
Self-driving cars may not be just yet, but at least we have self-driving suitcases. Perfect for the jet-setting traveller, Travelmate is a fully autonomous suitcase and robot companion that follows you everywhere, so you never have to lug a luggage or push a bulky trolley around the airport again. The smart suitcase syncs to your phone so it knows who to follow, and uses cameras to scan and navigate crowds and obstacles vertically or horizontally. And if you are afraid to lose your baggage, the Travelmate app allows GPS tracking, remote control functions allowing you to direct the suitcase. A speaker also helps inform you of Travelmate’s location should it wander out of sight. As for air travel regulations, Travelmate is TSA-approved and features removable lithium ion batteries. With the first batch waiting to ship this month, we can’t wait to take this everywhere.
Not just another humanoid robot that flooded the halls of CES 2018, Buddy is one of the honourees of CES’s Best of Innovation awards. Touted as a social robot, it is a personal assistant, educational companion and home security device all in one. In trend with the wave of adorable robots, Buddy is glossy in white, and features a customisable, emotive, face on an LCD screen. Cameras above the screen allow it to scan, detect, and recognise faces and locations in your home.
Besides helping out around the house—waking up the kids, playing music, suggesting recipes, taking photos, and managing your connected devices, to name a few—Buddy also keeps your home safe, providing surveillance when you are out, and detecting any falls or medical emergencies for elderly who live alone.
E-scooters and hoverboards were all over the streets in 2017, and Segway’s Loomo one-ups that with an AI-powered companion. Part self-balancing vehicle and part robot, Loomo can go from ferrying you to the grocery store to becoming an automated droid that carries your groceries and follows you home. This is made possible with its localisation and mapping functions, as well as facial recognition. The two-wheeler robot boasts a boxy silhouette, with a rectangular head and a 4.5 inch LCD screen for its face.
When the sleek black—a practical choice for its outdoor use—bot is not carrying out tasks, it will wander and explore the vicinity or socialise with other Loomos, much like a pet dog. One that can take photos and videos of you on its 1080p camera, of course.
Big Hero 6’s Baymax meets everyone’s favourite droid BB-8 (Star Wars) in Kuri, arguably the cutest home robot at CES 2018. Monochromatic in white, black and grey, the spherical droid features two large round eyes from which it emotes. A touch point on the top of its head allows it to react to touch, like a pet. Unlike other voice assistant-integrated bots, Kuri speaks robot, responding through adorable chirps and tweets—not that we are complaining, of course. It also plays music and recordings via built-in Bluetooth speakers that are loud enough to fill a room.
A camera behind its eye helps it to recognise faces and expressions, as well as record video and take pictures, and a scanner allows it to map your home so it can avoid obstacles and steep descends. Kuri functions much like many of the robotic concepts pushed out in recent years. It is a virtual assistant, entertainment device, and home security. The bot has begun shipping out in small quantities since late 2017, making it the most consumer-ready robot that will hopefully enter our homes sooner.