Asus launched many products at its high-profile Zenvolution press conference at Humble House in Taipei,Taiwan. A total of 10 new devices were launched. The star of the show however wasn't the company's flagship ZenFone 3 Deluxe or even the Surface Pro 4 competitor Transformer 3 Pro. It was Zenbo,its first-ever smart robot or as Asus likes to call it its first ever smart home assistant.The robot can sing songs, dance to music, and tell stories, even promising to work as a tutor to children. The device stands about knee height to an average adult, comes equipped with a robotic voice that's somehow already grating, and will cost $599 when it rolls into homes.
The Zenbo is as cute as it is smart. Priced at $599,the Zenbo doesn't look any different from the slurry of Chinese smart robots that have crept up in recent times. But there's an inherent innocence about the Zenbo that makes it,well,instantly likable. As narrated by Zenbo itself,it is a robot capable of many talents. At the same time,crowds make it nervous. That's your human element thrown it that is so necessary if it has to sustain in a viable household amid children,amid senior citizens.
Zenbo looks like an iMac G4 riding a Sony Rolly, but appears to work like Amazon's Echo, providing recipe recommendations and similar services in response to voice queries. Users can also Zenbo to buy goods online, logging into accounts and inputting passwords with their voice, and take photos like an autonomous selfie stick.
Asus also emphasized the robot's usefulness for older users. An awkward video detailing Zenbo's features showed a grandfather figure falling over alone at home. Rather than try to help him up, the miniature robot acted as a kind of invasive paparazzo, snapping a picture of him in his vulnerable state before sending it to his granddaughter. To her credit, rather than laugh at his misfortune, she informed her parents, allowing them to rescue the gentleman from his predicament.
The Zenbo -- according to Asus-- is the result of chairman Johney Shih's "ambition to enable robotic computing for every household." And going by the demo,it's safe to say the company hasn't screwed things up for a first attempt.