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Participate in a sufficient number of CES exhibitions, and a distinct sense of déjà vu becomes inevitable. This phenomenon is rooted in the fact that numerous concepts unveiled at the annual consumer electronics trade show are essentially glimpses into the future – prototypes serving as proof of concept designs. These concepts resurface repeatedly in different iterations as they inch closer to becoming tangible products. Among these recurrent innovations is Samsung’s Ballie, an AI-driven personal home assistant that first captivated audiences in 2020 and has now made a return appearance at CES 2024, boasting a more impressive range of household functionalities catering to all family members, including the four-legged ones.
Contrasting with its initial simplistic spherical design, the newly updated Ballie robot from Samsung takes center stage with a significantly refined and capable 3-wheeled mobile structure. Departing from the largely featureless appearance of its predecessor, the latest iteration adopts a form reminiscent of Pixar-designed robots, with a hint of vibrant aesthetics reminiscent of the popular game Among Us.
The most prominent transformation is the introduction of Ballie’s front-facing monocular visage, which serves as the AI-powered assistant’s “face.” This feature also acts as a port from which Ballie can project images, facilitating communication or functioning as a mobile video projector that can be directed towards walls, floors, or ceilings via an integrated projector.
Positioned as an autonomous personal home assistant, Ballie is designed to greet inhabitants at the door with the warmth of a cherished canine companion. While your pet may possess a certain charm, Samsung aims to elevate AI robot companions to indispensable household members by integrating them into a network of home appliances and leveraging their capabilities as a mobile monitoring system.
In Samsung’s CES presentation, scenarios are envisioned where Ballie dispenses treats through a connected pet food dispenser (a cool feature!) and engages in entertaining pets with projected videos (a somewhat questionable endeavor). A compact remote control emerges from the top of Ballie, facilitating the management of lights, air filtration units, laundry, and other smart home devices.
Beyond its role as a pet-friendly assistant, Ballie is showcased as a valuable addition to the home office, summoned to assist in video conference calls and project images during collaborative work sessions. Drawing a parallel to earlier forays into robotic companionship, such as the Sony Aibo, Samsung’s AI robot signifies the evolution of AI and robotics, marking the rise of an emerging market filled with AI-powered home assistants and partially-to-fully autonomous robots that seamlessly integrate with various devices and appliances. As for whether the charming yellow Samsung droid will find its place in households, the verdict is pending, with the Korean manufacturer yet to disclose pricing, specifications, or availability.
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