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Move over Siri, the Jibo robot is coming

By Maggie Lake, CNN
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jibo, a personal robot, has been launched by robotics pioneer Cynthia Breazeal
  • The robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members
  • CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills
  • But the Jibo up for grabs is just a prototype -- so don't expect too much

Editor's note: Maggie Lake is a business anchor and correspondent for CNN International. She is based out of the network's New York bureau. Follow her on Twitter.

New York (CNN) -- A smartphone or tablet feature high on your holiday list this year? How about a robot instead?

Cynthia Breazeal, head of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, is launching a crowd funding campaign that will let you buy exactly that. What is being billed as the first family robot -- Jibo -- is on the way.

At $499 for consumers and $599 for developers, the price is in line with a high-end smartphone. But Jibo is intended to be so much more. Breazeal, who has pioneered work in making robots more social and interactive, believes Jibo can be an organizer, an education tool, even assist elderly family members.

"Jibo is this helpful presence that helps support your family, your human network, to be more efficient and feel more connected," says Breazeal.

I was amazed to see the way small children respond to robot interaction
Maggie Lake

We got a chance to meet Jibo and see a demo of what he can do. It is a big leap from the likes of Siri, which most of us are used to.

As a mom, I loved the fact it can snap pictures -- finally I will be in some! The reminder functions would be great for my busy family and I also think kids will engage.

I spent time with Breazeal in her lab this week and I was amazed to see the way small children respond to robot interaction, as opposed to a learning app which they can tire of quickly.

There is, however, much Jibo can't do yet, so keep your expectations in check. Jibo does not think independently. He is not going to be your personal butler, or dinner date.

If you order Jibo now you are getting a prototype, which by definition means not everything will work the way you hope. This rollout is intended for those who want to help refine Jibo.

The software running the robot is an open developer platform and Breazeal and her team fully expect that community to come up with novel ideas that will help Jibo mature. I, for one, hope someone can make Jibo mobile. Right now, he spins but can't follow you around the house.

But if you're are ready to embrace the robot revolution and invite one into your family, Jibo says he wants to meet you too.

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