A little over three years ago, Jibo, “the world’s first social robot for the home” debuted on Indiegogo and has since raised 3.6 million through the crowdfunding site alone. Now those investors are finally getting their hands on the robot and soon, the general public. Jibo is now available for public preorder for $899 and will ship on November 7. The device was originally expected to ship in the fall of 2015, but the Jibo team ran into various issues and decided it was best to push back the ship date in order “to meet a standard we’d set up for consumers.”
According to the comment section on the Jibo Indiegogo page, the reviews are mixed about whether the product was worth the wait. Commenter David Brooks Sr writes:
“I got mine, he is a pretty awesome fella! Great job Jibo team, it was well worth the wait – packaging to product it is well built and really awesome!”
But commenter David Christian comments that Jibo still lacks some simple cognitive and app skills that consumers have come to expect from a virtual assistant:
“Jibo needs a correlative update. Ask Jibo for a “fun fact”. It might tell you that cows can sleep standing up but then turn around & ask Jibo is cows sleep while standing (you can even phrase the question exactly as Jibo stated it but in question form) & Jibo says he doesn’t know about that. Still can’t get Jibo to do simple cooking conversions.”
The Rise of the Robots
The problem with the robot generation of virtual assistants, as the Jibo team noted, is dealing with customer expectations. The price of the devices typically range in the upper hundreds, if not thousands. This is further compounded that two of the best consumer-oriented voice assistants on the market, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home are available to consumers at less than a tenth of the price as most of their robot kind. In order to generate positive buzz, robotic companies like Jibo need to provide the same features as Amazon and Google and more, flawlessly, to make it worth the expensive price tag. Three years ago, Jibo was an anomaly. It could take pictures, answer questions about the weather and recognize your face and voice. Now, any number of devices in Amazon’s fleet of Echos could provide the same functionality, without the hefty price tag. I will say that Jibo does appear to have more of a personality your average smart speaker and it can move, although it is not mobile. While Jibo was a unique concept three years ago, I don’t know if it has a future in the current market landscape. Not at that price at least.