Samsung showcased an unexpected AI powered IoT personal assistant during CES 2020 held in Las Vegas. Rather than an update to its Bixby voice assistant, the company introduced a cute, spherical yellow robot called “Ballie” on stage during its presentation on 7 January 2020.
It’s undeniable that the first thing that comes to mind is none other than Star Wars’ BB-8 droid, or at least the commercially available Sphero version of it. However, that’s not the case as Samsung presents Ballie to be more of an assistant rather than a toy. That’s right – your own personal droid.
As mentioned earlier, Ballie is… a ball that rolls in order to navigate its environment. Unlike BB-8, which moves around via its spherical lower body, Ballie rolls around by using domed rollable motors on its side while its centered main cylindrical module stays in place while moving.
Samsung didn’t go into the device’s hardware specifics, but its demonstration during CES 2020 did showcase some of Ballie’s capabilities. Samsung CEO H.S Kim presented the robot as a device that “understands you, supports you, and reacts to your needs.” It’s shown to accept voice commands, as well as featuring an ability of recognising its user’s identity via its optics. During the presentation, Ballie is shown following Kim around as he moved on stage, and even acknowledges his voice commands with R2D2-like sound effects.
Samsung also previewed the device’s potential IoT capabilities in a video, where it shows Ballie controlling various smart home features and devices such as automated curtains, smart TV, and robotic vacuum devices – all for the convenience of its user, even when they’re not at home. The video also showed the device’s proficiency of taking care of the user’s pets.
Ballie sounds like an ideal robot to own but the product is still currently in its concept stages for now. Samsung has not disclosed on an expected release date or pricing for the device just yet, but we’re interested to see more of it soon in the near future.