Jibo was built and developed by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal a pioneer of social robotics and MIT professor. She is the founder and CEO of JIBO, Inc. The robot itself is a strange looking two piece affair and kind of looks as if its head has been put in a cone by a veterinarian so it doesn’t take out recent stitches. It has a cute voice and a decent sense of humor.

Jibo

“Wake up, Jibo,” activates the family robot after a little tinkle and a yawn are emitted by him. He won’t vacuum your house like a Roomba, but he will have a conversation with you, answer your calls and messages and will connect to your phone via Wi-Fi. One of the coolest features is Jibo’s ability to recognize faces and take pictures and video allowing everyone to get on the action rather than one person needing to act as a photographer.

Jibo: First social robot

He can also dance, connect with tabets, TVs and game consoles and as an open source project, additional features will be offered by developers in the near future.

“I would say this is the first social, personal robot,” says Illah Nourbakhsh, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. While his head and body movements are near human in their emoting, Jibo cannot move on his own and needs to be moved around the house by his “owners.”

Jibo turns to whomever is speaking and makes a great facilitator to video chats. “With Jibo, you feel like you’re really part of the group dynamic,” says Breazeal.

“I think that’s enormous, I love it,” says Ken Goldberg, a roboticist from the University of California in Berkeley.

“Right now, the most state-of-the-art robot still takes a good 20 minutes to fold a small towel,” Goldberg says when praising the socially saavy butler functions of Jibo.

Additional functions on the way

“Jibo doesn’t replace people and human relationships; rather, it is designed to support, complement and extend what we need from others in an affordable, effective and delightful way so that we can succeed, thrive and grow,” Jibo’s creator Breazeal said in a recent interview.

As soon as the SDK (software development kit) is released, Jibo’s functionality will grow even further.