Jibo, “The World’s First Family Robot,” raised more than $2 million on the
crowdfunding platform Indiegogo,
making it one of the most funded
projects in the site’s history.
Turning to crowdfunding with the hope to raise Jibo awareness, as
well as the social robotics movement as a whole, Jibo founder and
CEO, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal has been overwhelmed by the positive
“There is clear desire for a new, more humanized way to interact
with intelligent technology in the home, both in the context of enlivening digital content with greater personalization and engagement, as
well as a more friendly way to interface with home automation,” says
Currently, Jibo can be an assistant, messenger, photographer, avatar, storyteller, and companion. However, Breazeal describes a much
“As the world’s first open social robotics platform, Jibo is uniquely
positioned to be that humanized experience with technology in the
home that is helpful, highly engaging, and extensible by third party
developers,” she adds.
Joining Breazeal in the development was
a team of business developers, architects,
designers, and programmers, combining
expertise in social robotics, interactive character design, and animation. Rounding out
the team was Huge Design, a San Francisco-based industrial design firm.
Jibo was designed on the premise of creating an affordable, adaptable, and aesthetically pleasing robot. To do this, the design
team began with a mix of contrasting qualities, including sophisticated hardware and
high quality interactive animation.
According to Bill Webb at Huge Design,
one of the first major design decisions was
to make the robot stationary, reducing cost
and increasing usability for a wide range of
technical abilities. Adding to Jibo’s simplic-
ity, all that is required for operation is power and a Wi-Fi connection.
“You then follow the instructions to teach Jibo to recognize your face
and voice, learn what he can do, and download the Jibo mobile app to
connect it to your mobile devices,” explains Webb.
Weighing six pounds, the robot stands 11 inches tall with a six-inch
base. The team experimented with a variety of glass, metals, and
plastics, to achieve a sturdy and lightweight design. The final iteration
uses aluminum, ABS plastic, and glass for the face/screen. Sitting on
a charging pad, it can run on battery power for up to 30 minutes. So
if the grid goes down, hopefully you’re not too reliant on your personal robot assistant – although increased battery life is already being
developed. Additionally, two high-resolution cameras see-and-track for
facial recognition, photography, and video calling, and a 360-degree
microphone allows for operation from any angle.
While these are some of Jibo’s current abilities, the company
designed the robot with an imbedded Linux-based software so developers can customize, adding new capabilities in the future.
“If you buy a developer kit, your Jibo can be programmed for your
exact needs,” says Webb. “We want this to be an open community
where programmers can continuously contribute to the design and
The best place to set Jibo is
where most of the household
activities happen, such as in
the kitchen or family room. (All
images courtesy of Jibo, Inc.)