It’s about time we put a face to the name of Alexa. Amazon’s popular personal assistant, whose compatibility with a wide range of services and smart home products has made her one popular artificial (intelligence) lady. She is heard by plenty of folks around the world, but has yet to really be seen (because let’s be honest, the Amazon Echo hardly counts as a believable body for her). But now, smartwatch brand Omate has introduced a rather adorable robot that just might be the physical manifestation of Alexa we’ve been waiting for.
Meet the new Alexa-enabled robot Yumi, effectively a wheeled Android tablet that you can control with your voice. Featuring a 5-inch 720p display as a face that can show a number of different expressions, Yumi comes fully equipped with a microphone (so you can talk to her), a light ring for notifications, speakers (so she can talk back), and a 3,500mAh battery. Standing 11.7 inches tall, it would be fair to call this bot a mobile Echo Dot, but it’s much cuter.
Yumi starts at $349, which makes the bot cheaper than a similar home robot from Asus, the Zenbo, which retails for $599. That said, it does have some limitations — for example, while Yumi has wheels, it’s not all that mobile. It’s really only meant to turn towards you when you speak, because if nothing else, this robot has excellent manners. Moreover, the Yumi doesn’t have object avoidance and drop avoidance sensors, which means that you can’t just leave this bot unattended. Otherwise, it might take a tumble down the stairs or off a table. And because Yumi doesn’t really have a mobile neck, the 5-megapixel “ultra pixel” (2um) front-facing camera — handy for video calls and surveillance — can’t be tilted. So you’ll have to keep Yumi a bit above ground for it to be useful.
The Yumi features a 1.3GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor, 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 8GB of onboard storage, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, an HDMI port, and a micro-USB port (with OTG support). And because Alexa relies heavily on the cloud for her functionality, you’ll have to make sure your home Wi-Fi system is solid.
The home bot will launch on Indiegogo on November 15th, and the current estimated ship date is March 2017. And if you simply must have one sooner rather than later, you can check out Omate’s website for an early bird discount.