tech2 News StaffMay 30, 2016 14:12:09 IST
Announcements from tech companies are usually dull affairs. You’re normally subjected to the routine of hardware upgrades and minor tweaks to design. Words like “revolutionary,” “amazing,” “transformative,” and more are thrown around with gay abandon, but it’s a rare occasion indeed that we see a device that fits that description.
At COMPUTEX 2016, ASUS unveiled the usual assortment of upgraded hardware and devices in the form of the new ZenFone and Transformer Book lineups. But they also announced "one more thing:" The ASUS Zenbo.
What is the Zenbo? It’s a robot. After a fashion. The “robot” itself looks like an iMac G4, but with a smaller screen and larger body. Oh, and it’s got wheels. Think of it as Alexa or Siri, but embedded in an actual robot. You can ask Zenbo questions, get it to tell you jokes, ask it to follow you around and even read instructions. It’ll also inform you of your daily agenda and reminders if you want it to. Kids can play with Zenbo and it can tell them stories, complete with animations, dancing and a voice-over.
If you’re already excited for Zenbo, you can have the device for $599 (around Rs 43,000).
ASUS’ Zenbo is powered by Intel and while specifications are scant, the device seems to have a tracking camera of sorts (maybe even a 3D one, to aid navigation) and includes a tablet-like touchscreen with expressive “eyes.” It does seem to have WiFi and internet connectivity, as well as support for cellular networks as it can make calls and wirelessly control various ASUS smart devices around the house.
We’re not sure, but Zenbo might even function as a glorified universal remote as the demo video shows the robot going up to a TV and “looking” at it to turn it off. We don’t know how long Zenbo’s battery will last and neither do we know if it can climb stairs.
ASUS chairman, Jonny Shih was certainly very excited when announcing the device, going so far as to get it to tell a joke, take a selfie with the crowd and follow him off stage.
But that’s not really what Zenbo is about. You can do almost all of the above on your smartphone with the equivalent of Google Now and Siri anyway, not to mention the likes of Alexa and Google’s hub speaker. How many of you will really spend upwards of Rs 40,000 for a robot equivalent of Siri?
ASUS wants to get people involved, they want developers to developers and designers to partner with them and build the next-generation of IoT devices. As Jonney Shih himself puts it, “Zenbo partners is ASUS biggest venture yet.”
Zenbo is just the face of an IoT and smart home revolution that ASUS wants to usher in.
Disclaimer: Our correspondent was invited for COMPUTEX 2016 by ASUS India. All travel and accommodation expenses have been take care of by ASUS India.
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