One step closer to The Matrix

Little robot Jibo isn’t just a pretty face; it walks, talks, and thinks

Ambient objects have been slowly infiltrating our homes. Simple innovations like The Clapper, an electric switch that responds to sound, may have started the revolution of leaving our households in the capable robotic hands of artificial intelligence. Technology has evolved since The Clapper, though. The first household robot, bunny-shaped Nabaztag, came around in 2006, and could give you the weather and time, aggregate your RSS feeds and even retrieve your email. The little rabbit never did gain a ton of popularity, however, and came upon hard times when the central servers ran into crippling slowdowns in December of its launch year.

Now that we control speakers, lights and door locks with tiny computers and smartphones, the world of ambient objects seems to be going silent… Or is it?

Meet Jibo, a robot that’s set to do a bit of everything. Unlike other artificial intelligence of its kind, it is compatible with apps that can improve its functionality. All things said, Jibo’s a little creepy. With the ability to take pictures, track faces and the option of remote control from a smartphone or tablet, Jibo’s list of features aren’t just useful, they’re downright terrifying.

We all remember the media scare that came with remote-hacking into laptop webcams. Walk around campus and look at how many students have a post-it note over their webcams, or have otherwise blotted them out. Being able to take photos without pressing a button or a timer is great, but how much privacy and safety are we willing to sacrifice for convenience? The truth is that, despite the scare tactics, few people become the intentional targets of hackers. The worry here comes more from the software used to improve Jibo’s functionality, and the nefarious purposes regular people could put it towards.

Face-tracking and movement-tracking aren’t new in automated devices. Microsoft’s Kinect is another example of the impressive technology little Jibo showcases, and its only downside is the lackluster selection of games it supports. Jibo could easily become a household name, then, even with a hefty price of $599 US.

But fear-mongering aside, the potential of these ambient objects is limitless. Imagine having Jibo act as a security camera for your apartment, reporting to your smartphone any unauthorized entry and catching it on video. Sure, there are already ways to set this up with basic webcams, but ease of use would increase the adoption rate of these security measures. Like all things tech-related, keep your credentials safe and your password lengthy and complex, and you’ll avoid trouble.

We’ve come a long way with tech in the past quarter-century. That being said, I’d love for Jibo’s voice to sound like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Creepy? Sure! But think of the geek-potential!

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