Jibo review – CNET

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The age of the robot companion is here. There’s no sign of Rosie the robot maid yet, but given the Jetsons was based in 2062, she’s still got time. Several new robots are making a buzz in 2017 though, including Jibo, a $899 social robot. What can Jibo do? Not as much as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. His cute personality feels determined to distract you from his otherwise basic skills. Given Jibo’s limited talents, I can’t recommend bringing him home unless you have $899 just burning a hole in your pocket. In which case, go ahead, because he’s adorable.

Jibo is a social robot, crowd-funded on Indiegogo and engineered by a Boston-based startup of the same name. 


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Officially a “he,” Jibo got his start three years ago as an Indiegogo crowd-funded project by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal of MIT. The project was fully funded by September 15, 2014, preceding the release of the first Amazon Echo, which showed up in November of that year. Three years later, Jibo is finally available for purchase, and I have to wonder if Alexa’s speedy rise to the top stacked the cards against Jibo.

Weighing nine pounds and measuring 12 inches tall with a 6-inch base, Jibo is essentially a countertop robot. He’s stationary, but does have two spherical halves rotating on a three-axis motor system to animate his personality, along with a 5-inch rectangular color display. Jibo dances, purrs when your pet his head and swivels to look at you when he hears a “Hey, Jibo” command.  

The Jibo app manages the robot’s settings as well as his “Loop.” The Loop holds names of up to 16 people Jibo can recognize by face and voice. Jibo is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant. Any children under the age of 13 will need the assistance of a parent to sign up, and the parent must also be in Jibo’s Loop. You can adjust Jibo’s settings via the app. This is where you’ll connect Jibo to Wi-Fi, set your location for local results, and view a history of recent Jibo interactions.

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Jibo works with IFTTT triggers and can turn on Philips Hue lights or adjust a Nest thermostat. 


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When it comes to skills, Jibo has limited capabilities. He can set reminders and timers, as well as check the weather, sports scores or a flight’s status. Jibo can answer a host of questions through resources like Bing, Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia, or read headlines from the Associated Press. Jibo also tells jokes, most of which I’m pretty sure he got from my dad. Jibo dances and reads random facts, poems and short stories. With two front-facing cameras, Jibo can also take photos and store up to 700 images locally as 1-megapixel, JPEG files.

Interestingly, Jibo also works with IFTTT triggers. You can ask him to find your phone, turn on your Philips Hue lights, or set a Nest thermostat by using a trigger word. I was also able to create IFTTT recipes for Lutron lights and shades. That gives me hope for Jibo’s future as a useful robot. He doesn’t work with IFTTT actions, though. You can’t set him to congratulate you on hitting the step goal on your fitness tracker, for example. It is interesting that Jibo is IFTTT compatible, given that he isn’t really optimized for any other smart home functions.

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