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No Ifs, Ands or Bots

Courtesy of  Flickr
By Carl Weiss

If you think that household robots are a thing of the future, think again. Robots are starting to poke their heads up everywhere.  Whereas little as a few years ago. The only personal robots were those that swept up after you, the next generation of bots are being primed to do everything from entertaining your children, to performing surgery.  More importantly, the rise of artificial intelligence means that before you know it, you could be competing with bots for jobs.  If you don’t know your droid from a hole in the ground, stay tuned as I part the curtains to show you what’s what with bots.

Robots that Rocked the Millenium
Courtesy of Wikipedi

1998 Furby

While everyone in the 20th century was familiar with movie droids like R2D2 and 3CPO, by the turn of the century, household robots were little more than toys.  Take the Furby, for instance.  Looking like a cross between a gremlin and an owl, this robotic plaything sold nearly 2 million units in 1998 alone.    While these furry bots don’t do much more than blink their eyelids, wiggle their ears and talk, their appeal was in the fact that they came out of the box speaking only Furbish and you as the owner, would teach Furby English.   They also had various pressure sensors such as on their belly and inside their mouths that when pressed would elicit a response.  The unit also came with an infrared sensor that allowed it to communicate with other Furbies.  While amusing, these turn of the century bots didn’t have any practical applications other than entertainment. ( Furby later went on to sell more than 40 million units.)

1999 Aibo

So if you can’t have a robot friend, how about a robotic variant of man’s best friend?  Sony Robotics launched Aibo, the robotic dog in 1999.  This little doggie wagged its tail, did play bows, walked on all fours and did a little doggie dance.  While it won’t fetch your slippers, it also doesn’t need to be house-trained.  It also likes to play with a ball.  While it doesn’t bite or bark, it will give you its paw.  Sony stopped making them in 2006 when they shut their robotic division down.  But you can still find them for sale on eBay and Amazon in the $500-$700 range.  Good dog!

2000 Asimo

Courtesy of  Wikimedia Commons
That’s not to say that super cool robots weren’t being developed at the turn of the century.  They were.  They just weren’t being sold to the general public.  2000 saw the birth of Asimo by, of all things, Honda.  Yeah, the same company that makes cars and motorcycles.  While most people think that the robot got its name by shortening the monicker of I Robot author Isaac Asimov, Asimo actually stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.  And the Step part of the title is the key, because Asimo walks, trots, climbs stairs and even kicks soccer balls. 

Looking like a 4-foot tall astronaut, Asimo was designed with service in mind.  Made of magnesium covered with plastic, this bipedal droid was created to assist its human owners.  The rub is that to date; Honda has never offered the unit for sale, which is a shame since this is exactly what the average homeowner wants.  The problem is that each unit costs 6-figures to produce.  As a result, Asimo has served as a kind of robot ambassador by going on a worldwide tour during the years 2003 to 2005.  So if you are in the market for a robot maid like Rosey the Robot, you’re just going to have to wait. 

Courtesy of  Wikimedia Commons
2002 Roomba

While not exactly a maid, the Roomba was made to sweep floors all by itself.  Once activated, the droid which looks like a rolling floor scale navigates your home by using sensors to detect dirt, as well as change directions whenever it encounters an obstacle.  It also keeps an electronic eye out for steep drops to keep it from taking a tumble down the stairs.  (As of 2016, there have been seven generations of Roomba.)  When one considers that more than 10 million units have been sold, then one would have to say that iRobot, maker of the Roomba, is the one that really cleaned up.

Designed by Mark Tilden and produced by Wow Wee Toys, was an advanced remote controlled robotic toy that walked, talked (sort of), danced, picked up objects (sometimes) and tried his best to do his owners bidding.  Standing at just over a foot tall, the bipedal bot sold more than 1.4 million units in 2004 alone.  When you consider that each unit costs in the neighborhood of $100, this is a lot of bot for the buck.  Another first for Robosapien was its participation in the world’s first soccer tournament for humanoid robots that took place at the German Open in 2005.

2007 Pleo the Dinosaur

For all of you waiting for a real live Jurassic Park moment, how does a robotic baby dinosaur grab you?  While he won’t menace you and your family, Pleo does have a tendency to nip at fingers.  He also likes to be stroked like a cat and tickled. Like any respectable baby Dino, he will also toddle around the floor.  ($639 on Amazon)

2010 World’s 1st Robot Chorus Line
While they may not give the Rockettes a run for their money, on June 21, 2010, twenty nao robots strutted their stuff on stage to Rabel’s Bolero.  Similar articulated robots are available on Amazon for $420 that dance, do yoga and perform kung fu moves.  Can you say robotic Bruce Lee?

The Best Bots of 2015/2016

Robomow RC306

If you thought the Roomba was a great way to avoid the drudgery of vacuuming, wait until you meet Robomow, the robotic lawn mower.  For 1,200, you get a lawnbot that not only knows its way around your yard, but it knows its way home to its charger.  It even comes with an app that you can use to phone home to tell Robomow when to do its thing.  Your teenager will thank you.

iRobot Looj

Here’s a solution to another dirty job, cleaning out the gutters.  iRobot, the same company that makes the Roomba has created the Looj, the gutter cleaning robot.  I am not making this up.  All that is required is for you to climb a ladder and place Looj on the gutter so it can do its thing.  Looking like a cross between a tiny toy tank and an alley cat, this $300 handybot.

Gourmia GCR-1700 10-in-1 

Programmable Multi Cooker with Exclusive Robotic Hands-Free StirrerYou’ve heard the old adage, “A watched pot never boils?”  Now kitchen appliance maker Gourmia has developed an automated cooker that purportedly can stir and cook all kinds of meals for you at the touch of a button.  While it won’t put the likes of Emeril Lagasse out of business, if you’re all thumbs in the kitchen, you might want to check out this robot chef. ($129 on Amazon.)

Coming to a Store Near You

While all of these bots are interesting, entertaining and even useful, they are still a far cry from being anywhere as intelligent as the movie version of R2D2, not to mention 3CPO.  So when can we expect to see droids that can truly interact with us?

JIBO (Pronounced Gee-Bow)

Touted as the world’s first family robot, Jibo is different from every bot that has come before.  While he doesn’t get around, he moves around, able to swivel his head 360 degrees to track you and yours.  Why would you want him to do that?  He is a terrific cameraman that can capture those magic moments in stills or video.  He’s also the ultimate digital assistant, capable of keeping you up to date with your busy schedule. He’s a storyteller and a digital valet that can order take out and turn on the lights when you enter a room.  So when can you get a Jibo of your own?  Soon, if the folks at have anything to say about it. All you can do for now is sign up for their prelaunch waitlist.

Autonomous AI Personal Robot

Here is a Jibo on a stick that was crowdsourced on kickstarter.  Purportedly able to do most everything that Jibo can and then some, this $1,499 personal digital assistant on steroids is touted as the world’s first artificial intelligence personal robot, she can get around on wheels as she interacts with you throughout your busy day.  She can wake you up in the morning, start the coffee and help you plan your day.  Heck, she can give you fashion tips, keep track of your vital statistics and participate in office meetings, if you can believe her press releases.  She’s supposed to start shipping on April 30, 2017.

Courtesy of Pixabay
No article about bot would be complete without mention droids from Star Wars. In fact, R2D2 was one of the first take home droids to follow voice commands to scout your house or act as a guard to warn you when someone was coming. Ofcourse it could also follow prorammed routs and routines. New StarWrs fan will be happy to know that the cute BB8 droid is has been available to take home since last Christmas when the new episode came out. Like its prediseor R2D2, it can accept programs to perform many different type of task. The coolest thing is it rolls around just like the one in the movie. Here is a list of features from VAT19 website;
  • Controllable and interactive spherical droid
  • Bluetooth-enabled RC droid compatible with iOS and Android 4.4.2+
  • Listens and responds to voice commands
  • “Projects” holographic communications via augmented reality
  • Autonomous behavior and adaptive personality
  • Officially-licensed Star Wars product
  • Includes: BB-8 droid, inductive charging cradle, USB cable
  • External material: painted plastic

The bottom line on personal bots is that while Star Wars fans might have to wait a bit longer before they can have a smart droid of their very own, at this juncture the prospect isn’t in a galaxy far away.

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In this article, I have discussed the current state of bot technology, especially for personal use. I have covered what I believe are the 12 best personal bot develop since 1998 through the present. Lots of detail, pictures and video are provided for the reader to view and explore.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family, and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 11/01/16. I recommend checking out "The Next Generation - Putting Your Best Robot Forward" and "Praise the Borg and Pass the Ammunition".  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “typing in robots or androids” in the search box top of this blog. Also, don't forget to plus us on Google+.  

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Carl Weiss is president of a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida that routinely works with bloggers and other online marketers

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