JIBO

10:21 AM




Shoppers looking to beat next year's holiday rush for the hottest tech might want to put their order in now.

Scheduled to be available by December 2015, Jibo will be capable of interacting with its owners; for now, it is just a prototype, but that could soon change. Launched on Wednesday, the crowdfunding campaign for Jibo -- which creators are calling the "world's first family robot" -- has blown through its $100,000 funding goal on Indiegogo.

Social robotics - that's the idea behind Jibo, and Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has worked in the field for years. Involved in MIT's Personal Robots Group, she has been focusing on developing the principles, techniques, and technologies for personal robots.

Perhaps the best known social robot is Leonardo, which Breazeal helped create, in collaboration with the world-famous special effect experts at Stan Winston Studio. The 2.5 foot furry robot was meant to be whimsical -- not imitating any living creature -- to demonstrate the lab's idea that robots will never be animals or humans. "Robots will be their own kind of creature and should be accepted, measured, and valued on those terms," noted the team on the project's website.

"A social robot does not need to be humanoid or to locomote to engage people and bring content to life beyond flat screens. This adds a lot of unnecessary expense and complexity," Breazeal told CBS News in an email.

Breazeal and her team adopted the same whimsical, simple approach towards designing Jibo. At first glance, the 11-inch tall robot -- with a six-inch base -- resembles more of a retro television than a 21st century robot. But rest assured, it will be loaded with all the amenities of current technology, such as Bluetooth and WiFi.

Come next December, Jibo is expected to be able to have the following capabilities that will allow him act as an assistant, reminding you of upcoming events; a storyteller, complete with sound effects, graphics and physical movements to boot; a photographer, noticing smiles to automatically take a photo; a messenger and telepresence avatar, allowing users to communicate; as well as act as an companion.

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