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Trough of Disillusionment

It seems like after about a year of personal robot hype, we’re in the bottom of the Trough of Disillusionment when it comes to social robots. Three years ago, Jibo rocked the scene and was the darling of both investors and crowd funders. They even managed to have a second crowd funding campaign that garnered more backers.

The price point for the Jibo was high. This inspired dozens of cheap knock off Jibos to flood the market. When I visited CES Asia last May in Shanghai, at least ten were on display. These could be manufactured for under $50 per unit.

However, the market did not seem to embrace these devices. There’s now been an atrophying of “moving tablets” being marketed (at least at the HK shows this past week). Even Jibo had shifted from being a robotics company to being a character company.

When you look at the robots that are being displayed, within two seconds it’s apparent that they’re not really ready for the home. They are a mountain of “meh”. The speech recognition in choppy, they have a large lag time, and they can’t do more than a roomba.

What’s missing and needed are appendages and accurate computer vision to make a jump in usefulness of these devices. It’ll probably be two years before the first game changer home robot is ready.

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